A New Year's Day venture for thousands into Julian to see its heavy snow turned the quaint town into a traffic nightmare New Year's Day, backing up every roadway into town for miles and leaving it out of lodging for several days.
The picturesque town of 1,500, which saw 6 inches of snow on New Year’s Eve, is "overflowing with outsiders" as visitors flock there, said California Highway Patrol spokesman Robert Catano.
"Be aware that Julian is bursting at the seams," the town's Chamber of Commerce warned would-be visitors on its website. "Be prepared to wait in a traffic jam for a long time just to get into town. Please do not block anyone's driveway or enter private property looking for places to play in the snow."
Thursday afternoon, every major highway was backed up for miles, according to the California Highway Patrol.
To compound the problem, the town is completely out of lodging until Jan. 3, Chamber of Commerce officials said.
While state troopers told NBC 7 that the town had run out of gasoline, a clerk at Julian's only gas station said it did have gasoline and would have enough to last the night.
State troopers were dispatched to the area on Thursday after reports of gridlock traffic.
Traffic continued to worsen as the day wore on. State Route 67 had traffic backed up Thursday afternoon all the way to I-8 and the 8 was congested all the way to Willows Road near Viejas.
While Julian is known for being one of the rare places in Southern California to see snow in the winter, the amount that fell over New Year's Eve was unusual. The amount of snow that fell there Wednesday was more than twice the town's average snowfall for the entire month of December.
The average snowfall for an entire year is 22 inches and 2.5 inches is typical for the month of December, according to the Western Regional Climate Center.
Early Thursday morning, locals were in good spirits about the influx in visitors. Mom's Pie House expected to sell out of 500 pies by the end of the day.
Locals said the boom is good for their town's economy.
"People are having a great time," Julian resident Johathon Mitteman said. "They kind of lose their concept of driving rules, but that is fine."
Drivers planning to head up there on Thursday should expect major delays on State Route 79 and State 78 into Julian, Catano said.
Chains are required from the 79 to Old Highway 80 and those driving on Sunrise Highway are obligated to carry chains.