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Severe weather and visitors expected in our local mountains

MT. LAGUNA SNOW.jpg
Kitty Alvarado
Fog and remnants of snow line Mt. Laguna roads on the eve of a winter storm in this undated photo.

It’s a beautiful drive to San Diego County mountains, but come Tuesday afternoon, everything will change.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Tuesday through Wednesday for local mountain communities.

Due to high winds, schools in the Mountain Empire Unified School District, the Julian Union Elementary, Julian Union High and Spencer Valley school districts have declared a snow day and will be closed Tuesday.

RELATED: Winter storm expected Tuesday and Wednesday

Division Chief Talbot Hayes with the Descanso Division of the Cleveland National Forest said this is welcome news after a mostly dry winter.

"We’re actually very excited about getting the snowfall and rain," he said. "It’s kind of a two-edge sword. We do need the (precipitation) and the water, but also that comes with additional hazards from driving."

The storm is expected to bring at least 8 inches of snow, and with it, dangerous travel conditions like icy roads and reduced visibility. Those who must travel to areas like Mt. Laguna and Julian are urged to wait for the storm to pass, take extra precautions and have emergency supplies.

Hayes said they’re preparing for severe weather to hit the mountain regions, and those headed up the mountain should too.

"I would expect icy road conditions especially if you’re going to travel to those higher elevations like Mt. Laguna or Mt. Palomar," he said. "Chains will probably be required to get up into those areas and then some of the I-8 corridor will also be hazardous to drive on, so it would be wise to reduce your speeds and just be really careful."

Severe weather and visitors expected in our local mountains

"They shouldn’t come up here without being prepared — have blankets, have water, have extra socks, have snow chains and a shovel," said the co-owner of the Laguna Mountain Lodge and Store — he goes by Tom.

He said they’re used to snow-packed storms but for visitors, preparedness is the key when they come up to enjoy the winter wonderland. He’s looking forward to welcoming guests.

"Part of what keeps us going in the winter time — because it’s pretty slow up here, but it will be busy — there’ll be people everywhere, it will make the cash registers ring," Tom said.

Severe weather and visitors expected in our local mountains

He just hopes people exercise caution and use common sense, like waiting for the storm to pass to go hiking, dressing for extreme weather and knowing their limitations.

"People go do things they shouldn’t do, go places without snow chains or, you know, we try to warn them but everybody’s gotta learn on their own," Tom said.

But mostly he just hopes those who visit have fun and respect these beautiful communities.

"Just come up here and have a good time, and take their trash home, I mean it’s a beautiful place," he said.

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