Snow Day for Mountain Schools

The Mountain Empire Unified School District said all schools were closed in the Pine Valley area Thursday due to snow

As strong El Niño-driven storms plowed San Diego County, snow fell in the mountains, and a snow day was declared for schools in the Pine Valley area.

The Mountain Empire Unified School District confirmed Thursday morning that all schools in its district were closed due to snow. Chris Rose, Director of Transportation for the Mountain Empire School District later said schools in that area would remain closed Friday, too.

Meanwhile, in El Cajon, classrooms at Dehesa Elementary School were flooded by the heavy rainfall, and school officials said classes there were canceled Thursday and Friday.

The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) confirmed the Dehesa School District had closed schools in its area Thursday as a result of the storms, too.

No other school closures were in effect as of 8:15 a.m. Thursday, the SDCOE said.

The SDCOE said each school district will monitor the impact of the storms across local campuses and make decisions on closures accordingly.

"The safety and security of students, faculty, and staff is of the upmost importance to schools across the county," the SDCOE said. "As the current El Nino storm conditions change, each school district will continue to monitor the local emergency situation and make school closure decisions on a day-by-day basis."

Meanwhile, the San Diego Police Department and San Diego County Department of Public Works have shut down some roads in San Diego County due to flooding. The latest updates on those road closures can be seen here.

The Department of Public Works says anyone driving to local, snowcapped mountains will be required to have chains on their tires Thursday, including along Sunrise Highway in Julian and Mount Laguna, and on Palomar Mountain.

Officials will enforce chain control along Sunrise Highway in an effort to curb accidents on the icy, slick roadways.

California Highway Patrol (CHP) officials suggest San Diegans wait a couple of days before heading to the snowcapped areas, at least until visibility improves and the snowstorms let up some.

“We’d rather you didn’t come up today, for sure,” CHP Officer Kevin Pearlstein told NBC 7. “Once the weather clears out a little bit – which will probably be this weekend, according to the Weather Service – then come out and enjoy the snow. But not today and not tomorrow, if the weather holds up.”

NBC 7 meteorologist Jodi Kodesh echoed that recommendation, and said visitors should wait a bit before braving the snow and driving conditions.

Nevertheless, many families made the drive to have a snow day of their own.

Kensington Villareal, a young San Diegan enjoying the cold, called the snow amazing "because you can sled on it and throw snowballs at your sister."

Some stopped on Sunrise Highway, before the snow got too deep. Whether there was a lot or a little, everyone loved the taste of winter weather.

"This is something that doesn't happen all the time, so take advantage of it," said Madison, Kensington's 13-year-old sister.

Officials said those who decide to head to the mountains should take several precautions before making the trek to the snow, including checking the tire pressure and windshield wipers on their vehicles. Visitors should also wear warm clothing and pack an extra change of clothing, plus adequate food and water, in case of an emergency.

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