SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- If you're heading over the hill and through the woods for Thanksgiving, you better leave sooner rather than later.
Nearly 50 million people plan to drive for the Thanksgiving holiday, according to the American Automobile Association. But those heading through the Sierra need to be prepared for a winter storm warning.
On Monday, Mike Bellini was getting a jump-start on his Thanksgiving.
“Because I don’t want to hit traffic. So, yeah. Get up there early and have some fun,” Bellini told FOX40.
He was heading to Nevada at the start of the week to avoid driving in the snow.
“It’s kind of the perfect storm in a sense,” said California Highway Patrol Officer Peter Mann. “A, we’re getting feet of snow. And B, it’s a holiday travel weekend.”
Officer Mann warned of heavy traffic and delays for Thanksgiving travelers in the Sierra with chain controls likely and freeway closures possible.
“We’re expecting snow levels to get extremely low, I mean, we’re talking below 2,000 feet,” Mann told FOX40. “There’s really high winds forecasted with this storm, that could lead to white-out conditions, which could also lead to holds on the freeway as well.”
He said all available officers will be on duty to try to keep traffic running smoothly.
“Hopefully you’re on the road already. Today is kind of your last, best travel window,” Mann said.
Caltrans was readying snowplows and blowers for snow removal. Crews will be working around the clock to try to keep the roads drivable -- but they need travelers’ help.
“Have proper chains, check your tires, have winter washer fluid, plenty of gas, dress warm, and just plan for delays,” said Caltrans Donner Pass Area Superintendent Greg DeAlba.
Bellini said he came prepared but was praying his extra supplies would not be necessary for the trip home after the holiday.
“Hoping for good weather that it doesn’t snow on the way back down and we won’t get stuck,” he told FOX40.
The CHP also tells drivers to make sure to have an emergency kit on them that includes water, non-perishable food and first aid supplies.
And as always, with slippery roads, slow down.
Getting ready for rain
It was a race against the weather for a gardening crew in Land Park. Demand for their services rose sharply before the rain starts steadily falling on Tuesday.
In McKinley Park, Sacramento Public Works crews were busy through the last hour of daylight.
“To get as much of the debris off the ground as possible and clear those roadways as much as we can before the storm hits,” said the city’s Director of Emergency Management Daniel Bowers.
Bowers urged residents to fill their green bins first before putting leaves in piles and keep those piles at least a foot away from storm drains.
“You’re definitely going to have the potential for some of those drainage systems to back up, clog and cause localized flooding,” he explained. “If they do encounter any sort of localized flooding or clogged drain, please call 311 as quickly as possible."