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CBS13 rides along with CHP Truckee during heavy snow, high winds

On patrol with CHP Truckee during treacherous travels along I-80
On patrol with CHP Truckee during treacherous travels along I-80 02:26

TRUCKEE - Blizzard conditions slammed Interstate 80 on Friday and CBS13 rode along with CHP Truckee to see, firsthand, the impacts of severe weather in the Sierra. 

Sergeant Bryan Yops knows the area, well, even in near to whiteout conditions. Within 15 minutes of being in the car, the CBS13 crew and Sgt. Yops came across the first weather-related issue: a big rig was stuck in the fast lane on I-80 at Donner Pass. 

The CHP vehicle pulled over and Yops got out to speak to the driver. The big rig had been cut off and lost momentum to get up a gradual hill in snow and wind, as visibility dropped. 

"We have to wait for him to build up air in his brake lines, then we'll go," Yops said.

With his foot on the gas, Yops pushed the big rig with the CHP vehicle. After three tries, he opted for back up -- the push needed more power. A Caltrans plower arrived to give the forward momentum to get the truck moving again. 

Just like that, the CBS13 crew and sergeant were on their way on I-80, where multiple cars stopped on the highway required a CHP check-in with the question, "Is everything OK?" 

"We spend 6 months a year driving in these conditions every day, we're pretty familiar how our vehicle handles and driving in the snow." said Yops.

The next weather-related issue: a Dodge Ram stuck in the snow. Cars and trucks moved past, slowly, but Yops called ahead to Caltrans for a request to hold traffic temporarily while they worked to get the driver out of the snow. 

A second CHP vehicle arrived and, attached with hook, pulled the vehicle out of the snow. 

A few minutes of this and the car was back on track with a reminder for the road.

"It whited out for a second. I was looking for a plow post," the driver told Yops who offered the advice, "Just remember brakes aren't your friend." 

In severe weather, like the consecutive blizzard warning days ahead, CHP Truckee officers may work more than 12 hour shifts. Yops said most of the time is spent responding to calls up and down heavily traveled highways, like I-80. 

It's not uncommon to push or pull a big rig or vehicle out of the snow multiple times an hour, within a shift. 

"If you don't have cell service, and you are trapped, and your vehicle becomes disabled, your only hope is us passing you by, or coming up on you." said Yops. 

CHP Truckee and Caltrans reported I-80 was closed at 5 p.m. Friday due to weather conditions. It reopened late Friday night, before midnight. 

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