Snowstorm strands 120 visitors, staff at mountain resort
February 12, 2019 - 18:35 admin
February 8, 2019
Sarah Elliott / USFS reports
Recent winter storms across the Sierra Nevada brought heavy snowfall to Sequoia National Forest, resulting in over 120 visitors and staff snowbound at Montecito Sequoia Lodge. Sequoia National Forest and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks entered unified command on Wednesday, Feb. 6, deploying heavy equipment and crews to clear eight miles of snow and more than 20 downed trees on Generals Highway, which were hampering access to and from the resort.
According to U.S. Forest Service officials, crews traveled by snowmobile to the lodge Wednesday morning, ensuring the health and safety of the snow-trapped visitors. General supplies requested by the guests were delivered Thursday morning by Forest Service, National Park Service, and Resort staff to ease their unplanned extended stay.
“Forest and Park Service crews cleared the final path to the Lodge by 6 p.m., and Park Service personnel began escorting the stranded visitors out to Highway 180 at approximately 6:30 p.m.," said Joe Gonzels, Forest Service incident commander. "The first convoy included 25 vehicles and 92 guests."
Tulare County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) recommends Forest visitors stay out of the area until it is cleared and safe for people to return. More snow is expected this weekend that could add to hazardous driving conditions.
As a reminder, while traveling in the mountains, especially in the winter, always be prepared for extreme weather conditions and for the possibility of becoming stranded.
Currently, the lodge, which offers winter lodging with snow play areas and groomed Nordic ski trails, continues to be closed due to the volatile weather that remains in the forecast.