Historic snowfall in Humboldt brings road closures, power outages

Overnight wind speeds at the start of the week are projected to hit 40 mph

An amber glow from the Arcata Plaza lamps gives fresh snowfall an ethereal look late Saturday night. (José Quezada — For the Times-Standard)
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Up to 8 inches of snow fell overnight Saturday across interior areas of Humboldt County, while historic levels of snowfall up and down the coastline prompted road closures early Sunday morning.

The juncture of U.S. Highway 101 and state Route 1 near Leggett was closed for several hours on Sunday, but California Highway Patrol was able to reopen the highway on both sides by the afternoon, according to CHP public dispatch information.

As snow descended overnight Saturday into Sunday, several collisions were reported to the CHP due to hazardous road conditions.

Through late afternoon Sunday, all vehicles except for four-wheelers were required to have chains on state Route 36 between Bridgeville and Dinsmore, according to Caltrans. Those restrictions have since been lifted.

Meanwhile, storm conditions triggered power outages across the county. Over 8,000 Humboldt County residents lost power.

More than 4,200 residents were without power in Hoopa, Trinidad and Willow Creek alone, while Arcata and Garberville each saw more than 800 residents report outages, said PG&E spokesperson Karly Hernandez.

“We’re doing everything possible and have committed extra resources,” Hernandez said. “Right now, there’s no estimated time of restoration, since we have a bunch of individual outages.”

A sudden snow flurry Saturday night covered G Street, Arcata slowing traffic down to a crawl. (José Quezada — For the Times-Standard)

The tri-county division hit a peak of 11,400 reported outages. By Monday, many of them were resolved, but several communities are still without power.

PG&E spokesperson Deanna Contreras told the Times-Standard on Monday the utility is providing generators to homes in Hoopa, Willow Creek and Weitchipec as residents prepare for long-term outages.

About a half-inch of overnight snowfall in Eureka marked the first significant snowfall the city has seen since 2002. Arcata received 1 inch of snow, while McKinleyville saw 2 to 3 inches in parts of the town and 5.5 inches at Azalea Hill.

The “big winner” in Humboldt County is an area 7 miles east of Bridgeville, which reported 8 inches of snowfall, National Weather Service meteorologist William Iwasko said.

Snow is expected through the early days of the week at areas 1,500 feet and higher.

“Generally, snow levels will continue to increase (in height) a little bit as we go through the week,” Iwasko said. “We still expect numerous storm systems.”

The NWS released an emergency shelter weather alert for Monday and Tuesday. Overnight wind speeds at the start of the week are projected to hit 40 miles per hour.

The chance of showers will persist every day of the week. Low temperatures across the county will hover in the upper-30-degree range, while highs will rebound into the upper 40s.

“We may hit 50, but what’s the difference of a few degrees?” Iwasko said.

Shomik Mukherjee can be reached at 707-441-0504.

Folks on the North Coast woke to a view of the Kneeland ridge with the treeline dusted with snow. (José Quezada — For the Times-Standard)

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