Bear Valley Springs, CA

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Snow Plow Procedures & Winter Driving Tips

Winter brings with it a recurring set of challenges for our community, and Public Works department staff are prepared to meet these challenges.

We conduct training classes each fall with all staff to get them in the mindset of winter preparations and go over any changes to our operations.  Our Fleet staff also gear up for winter by inspecting all plow trucks and winter response equipment to make sure they’re ready to deploy at the first sign of snow and/or ice.

Bear Valley Springs, December, 2019

Winter storms are categorized into one of three classifications, as follows:

Class I Storm:

This condition represents an accumulation of snow no more than 1 inch in depth, with imminent and/or present icy conditions with temperatures at or below freezing.

Response: Treatment of the roadway with abrasives. Resources may involve anywhere from one plow/operator to a full crew depending upon the area the storm is affecting. We are unable to plow snow that is less than 2 inches in depth without causing damage to roads and equipment.  

We cannot plow ice. Please stay off icy roads if at all possible. Even after grit has been spread, traction is limited.

Class II Storm:

Weather conditions include snow accumulations from 2 to 6 inches, with current and forecasted temperatures at or below freezing.

Response: Deployment of full crew (six plows/operators) across all affected areas, with plowing and abrasives used as needed.

Class III Storm:

Weather conditions include snow accumulations of more than 6 inches with current and forecasted temperatures below freezing.

Response: Deployment of full crew (six plows/operators) across all affected areas, with plowing and abrasives used as needed. If the storm is forecasted to last across several shifts or days, a second crew will be deployed and a 12-hour shift rotation will be implemented, which will provide 24-hour coverage until the storm has abated and road conditions return to normal or near-normal driving conditions.

Road crews will not move on to lower priority roads until they are sure that the higher priority (higher traffic) roads have been made as safe as possible. Sometimes this means they must clear the roads multiple times, especially when snow is still falling. The first priority is always to ensure that the most heavily traveled roads are addressed. When conditions allow, roads will be widened, cul-de-sacs cleared, and icy areas treated with grit.

Roads may still have icy patches after being cleared!

Due to the many micro-biomes within the valley, a given storm can create different conditions at the same time. For example, many times in a Class I storm our response would include a few trucks treating the upper roads, but no response may be necessary on the valley floor.

As the storm worsens and the valley floors begin to be impacted, crews would be dispatched to respond accordingly.  Our management staff closely monitor the progression of each storm and we are ready to escalate our response to match the changing conditions.

Plow drivers are unable to pull out or tow stranded vehicles, and are not permitted to clear driveways or other private property.

Should you become stuck:

Cars parked or abandoned near the roadway pose a hazard

Should your vehicle become stuck on the road during winter weather, please make sure that it is as far off to the side as possible to leave room for snow plows and emergency crews.

Make arrangements to have the vehicle moved as soon as possible to help prevent accidents. All vehicles will be towed after 72 hours, or sooner if they are deemed to be a safety hazard.

If your vehicle is stuck within the roadway, please notify the Police Department immediately at 661-861-3110.

Whatever the storm classification may be, the District prioritizes the routes based on average daily traffic, grade, and other important safety considerations. Our main roads come first, and our plan focuses on completing them as quickly and safely as possible.

First Priority

  • Bear Valley Road
  • Lower Valley Road
  • Cumberland
  • San Juan
  • Jacaranda
  • Paramount
  • Deertrail
  • Skyline

Second Priority

  • Oakflat
  • Saddleback
  • Rolling Oak
  • Greenwater
  • Starland
  • Upper Pinedale
  • Stirrup Way

All other streets are designated as “Residential” and fall in the Priority 3 category. It’s important to understand that our approach to snow removal in plowing situations strives to open all roads as quickly as we can after the storm begins.  

This means our first effort will be an “up and back” approach, which opens both lanes on the road.  At times, snow may accumulate so quickly that we are unable to move on from the Priority 1 roads until the storm has passed. Only after we have opened all roads and made them safe for travel will we return and clear the road, which means plowing the remaining snow/windrow onto the shoulder (where possible).

We recognize that this method means residents may have cleared their driveways before our final pass, and then as we finalize our cleaning of the road later in the shift the windrow could now be in the freshly cleaned driveway. Plow drivers do all they can to minimize this impact by straightening the plow as they pass by a cleared driveway, but in many cases there will be an impact as we focus on making the roads as safe and passable as we can.  

We ask that residents not plow or throw their driveway snow out into the street, as this could cause a safety concern for drivers on the road.

Taken by a plow driver off Cedar Creek in 2018
Winter Driving Tips
  1. Slow down!
  2. Carry a shovel in your vehicle
  3. Ensure that your chains are sized for your tires and fit properly
  4. Obey road restrictions - they are for your safety
  5. Understand that office and gate staff are not able to give you an estimate when your particular road will be plowed. The worse the weather, the longer it will take but please be assured that the crews are working to clear all roads safely and efficiently
  6. Leave at least 2 vehicle lengths between yourself and other vehicles on the road. Even on plowed roads you can lose traction and control.
  7. Leave plenty of space between your car and the plow. The plows have spreaders on the back to apply grit to the road surface. This rock can damage your vehicle.
  8. Do not pull out in front of snow plows. They are very heavy and cannot stop quickly.
  9. Do not pass plow trucks. The driver will pull over in a safe spot as soon as it is practical.
  10. Park your cars safely out of the road right-of-way to avoid damage to your vehicle and creating a hazard for plow crews and other drivers.

During plowing operations please remember that the crews have been working long hours, sometimes up to 16 hour double shifts to keep your roads clear. Please be patient, give them a smile and a wave, and maybe even say 'Thanks!' if you get the chance. With a little understanding and mutual respect, we will all 'weather' this winter in great shape.

We continually focus on improving our service in this important area and do our utmost to minimize the impact these storms have on residents’ travel plans, but our greatest goal will always be maintaining our roads in the safest possible way for our community.