Wednesday night, a major traffic jam occurred on Highway 74, east of its intersection with Hwy. 371. The California Highway Patrol reported that between 20 and 50 vehicles were stuck on the highway on ice and snow.
Hwy 74 remained closed until late this morning, Thursday, Feb. 21. However, chain control is in effect according to both CHP and Cal Trans.
According to CHP, calls began around 7 p.m., that cars were stuck. With the help of Cal Trans, Cal Fire, and the Riverside Sheriff's Department, drivers and passengers were taken to Riverside County Fire Station 53 (Anza) or the Anza Community Center for the night.
County Emergency Management Department arranged for the use of the Anza Community Center.
All people were safe.
A tow truck tried to move as many vehicles possible but had to stop when it became too difficult because of road conditions.
About a dozen vehicles were still trapped this morning. But as of noon, the road is cleared and Hwy 74 open to the desert, but chain control is in place.
Since the National Weather Service has no reporting stations in this area, we cannot report how much snow was on the road. However, the Forest Service's Keenwild Station has no precipitation reported in the last 24 hours, which means it is entirely snow, no rain.
The NWS station in Garner Valley recorded 0.4 inches of rain, Thomas Mountain had 0.37 inches and Anza reported 0.3 inches. This precipitation may have frozen to ice under the snow fall, causing very dangerous conditions in an area where snow and ice are unusual.
One Garner Valley resident reported the snow fall as "a lot."