Rare snow blankets North Bay mountains, snarling roads
Storm clouds gave way to bright blue skies Tuesday, revealing ridgelines and hillsides blanketed by a fresh and rare covering of snow from one end of Sonoma County to the other.
Pat Cruz, a wine educator at the Locals Tasting Room in Geyserville, looked out the window about 3 p.m. Tuesday and saw a dusting of snow on Geyser Peak.
“It wasn’t like you look up and you see Mt. Fuji. It looked more like a sparkling white lace across the top of the mountain,” he said. “It was lovely.”
It was the latest dramatic shift in winter weather, beginning with near 70‑degree days in late January followed by heavy downpours and cold days with highs in the 50s as February got underway, leading to the unusual snowfall.
Sonoma County missed any serious collisions from icy roadways, the CHP said. But Lake and Mendocino counties saw numerous crashes throughout the day, according to CHP and fire reports, as drivers lost control and flipped, skidded and spun.
In Mendocino County, a gas tanker overturned about 6:20 a.m., blocking Highway 101 in Leggett. By Tuesday afternoon, about 1,500 gallons of gasoline had spilled and Mendocino County environmental health workers had responded, according to the CHP.
The highway reopened to one-way traffic after 5:30 p.m.
CHP Officer Joel Skeen said ice‑related crashes continued into the afternoon across Lake and Mendocino counties, including a non‑injury crash involving a Middletown school bus. And on Loch Lomond Road and Siegler Springs Road, a vehicle and a county snow plow collided, Skeen said.
The higher grades on highways 175 in Hopland and on Cobb Mountain were especially icy, Skeen said. “Pretty much all the roads in the county have ice (and) freezing conditions.”
A fatal crash early Tuesday in Sonoma County didn’t appear to involve weather conditions. Napa County had no apparent major problems from slick roads, the CHP said.
The forecast calls for sunny to partly sunny skies through Thursday, with rain returning Friday, but no snow expected in the area.
National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Anderson said the agency heard reports of snow at elevations as low as 300 feet, and a Press Democrat reader reported a dusting of snow in Freestone, at 220 feet. The last time it snowed that low in the Bay Area was in 2011.
Petaluma resident Henry Ptasinski went outside his home Tuesday morning and snapped a picture of snow covering Sonoma Mountain. By 4 p.m., it was gone, he said.
“It’s kind of nice to see and I wouldn’t mind seeing it again occasionally,” he said.
You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 707‑521-5412 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter@rossmannreport. You can reach Staff Writer Andrew Beale at 707-521-5205 or email@example.com. On Twitter @iambeale.