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The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Teams are warning the public not to detour onto Dog Valley and Henness Pass roads when I-80 closes due to weather conditions, according to a press statement released Tuesday afternoon.
Since 2017, the SARS team has been called out to these areas dozens of times, with the most recent on Sunday night.
These roads are two-lane dirt roads located in the north of Stampede Reservoir. The north side of the road is a steep mountain downgrade while the south side of the road is a drainage ditch. In the winter, the hard-packed snow turns to ice, causing drivers to slide off the road.
These roads are often used by tourists, people unfamiliar with the High Sierra or those who are following GPS directions, according to the press statement.
The SARS team, which includes 125 volunteers, are on call 24 hours a day and are expected to respond immediately when called. The national average of searches are resolved in the first eight hours, according to the press statement, but some may last a week or more.
The SARS team is trained to prioritize life over property. Those who are stranded on Dog Valley or Henness roads can expect their vehicles to remain stranded until the owner can safety tow the vehicle.
The following is advice the WCSO offers to the public when driving in inclement weather:
- Leave enough time to safely reach your destination and plan your route to avoid snowy/icy areas and steep hills
- Check weather and road conditions by calling 511 in Nevada
- Wear weather-appropriate clothing
- Maintain your car: check your battery, tire tread, windshield wipers, levels of no-freeze fluid in the washer reservoir and your antifreeze
- Maintain a high fuel level in your gas tank—for EV drivers, plan your charging stations ahead of time
- Keep a basic winter travel kit in the car: pre-charged portable cell phone charger, chains, a flashlight, jumper cables, shovel, snowbrush, ice scraper, water, road flares and a blanket
- If you get stuck in snow, leave a window slightly cracked for ventilation, and make sure the vehicle exhaust system is clear of snow
Kristin Oh is a public safety reporter for the Reno Gazette Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 775-420-1285. Please help support her work by subscribing.