PORTERVILLE, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Because of the heightened risk of landslides, slippery roads, floods, and other hazards due to the intense winter storms traveling through California, Sequoia National Forest officials are cautioning visitors to plan before visiting the site.

“Please travel with caution when visiting the forest and be prepared for damage-related travel delays, detours, and road closures. Forest roads are being assessed for safety concerns as soon as possible,” said the U.S. Forest Service’s Alicia Embrey.

Most Forest Service-managed roads are closed under a Forest Closure Order to protect road surfaces and natural resources. Kern River Ranger District says they will continue to monitor and respond to flooding issues by enlisting storm patrols, focusing on main roads to limit future travel impacts.

Hume Lake Ranger District says Hume Lake Road, or 10-Mile Road, at the intersection with Highway 180 is temporarily closed. While efforts are being made to stabilize the roadway, travel to the district is discouraged due to significant debris and mud flows.

Western Divide Ranger District says the Western Divide Highway between Ponderosa and California Hot Springs and Johnsondale has been closed.

Forest officials remind visitors if they stop to:

  • Park entirely off the roadway
  • Watch your children carefully so they never enter a roadway
  • Clean up after yourself; put the trash into a bin at home
  • Do not block other vehicles and prevent them from leaving
  • Snowmobiling is limited to roads in the Monument; all state vehicle code regulations apply

Forrest officials are strongly advising visitors to plan ahead to ensure personal safety. Tips include:

  • Contacting the District Ranger Station for closure information and checking Caltrans for current conditions
  • Checking local weather developments at the US National Weather Service, bring a map of the area with you, and know how to read it
  • Checking your tires and windshield wiper blades and ensure your vehicle has a full tank or is fully charged
  • If you’re visiting high elevation, bring tire chains and be prepared for black ice triggering slippery conditions
  • Bring extra dry clothes, a warm jacket and hat, gloves, and appropriate footwear
  • Pack extra food and water, a flashlight with fresh batteries, a first-aid kit, and a shovel
  • Leave your itinerary and expected time of return with a family member or friend
  • Stay calm and get out of the elements when possible if you become lost or injured. Stay put! Do not wander. Searchers have a better chance of finding you faster if you remain near your planned route.
  • Remember that while cell phones are helpful, cell coverage is spotty or unavailable in many areas of the Forest.
  • Pack out your trash and leave with everything you bring in and use.

Due to significant rain and snowfall, forest officials urge drivers to drive slowly and be aware of oncoming traffic when visibility is low.

For current conditions, you can visit the Sequoia National Forest website or contact a District Ranger Station, Monday thru Friday from 8 am to 4:30 pm for current conditions:

  • Kern River Ranger District – 760-376-3781
  • Hume Lake Ranger District – 559-338-2251
  • Western Divide Ranger District – 559-539-2607