SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Setting up his chains for an arduous journey up the mountain, longtime big rig driver John Eric Gomez said there’s only one way you’re able to tackle heavy snow and wind on the roads.

“The only way that you can get through it confidently is slow,” Gomez said. “I’ve seen people do it fast, and it’s old timers or they’ll always tell you, you know, young fella, if you want to end up in a ditch, keep pressing the pedal to the metal.”

The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for the area and is asking to stay off the roads as much as possible.

Gomez said he’s heading to Reno over Interstate 80 and plans to come back during the storm over Donner Summit. 

“I say a prayer every morning,” he said. “Heavenly father, guide our way and give us good direction. Again, you know, father takes me all the way. This is a freightliner truck, but it’s God-driven.”

Officials are forecasting for the Sierra Region around Tahoe to receive 5 to 12 feet of snow from Thursday through Sunday, with winds gusting up to 75 mph. 

Even with those conditions, Sean O’Brien said he and his buddies felt OK not canceling a ski trip they’d planned for months. He lives in the Bay Area but said he’s no stranger to snow working ski patrol at Homewood Ski Resort.

“I’ve got plenty of stuff [supplies] in case the highway was going to be closed,” O’Brien said. “And again, we’re ready to rock in the [rental] house for the next four or five days.”

Donny Frances is the roads manager for Placer County Department of Public Works and said they are taking the weather conditions seriously.

“We doubled our staff in the Tahoe and Donner Summit area and we’ll be going on 24-hour shifts starting today at noon,” Frances said.

As someone who’s lived in the Sierras all his life, Kevin Amber said you can never be too prepared for weather like this.

“You gotta have food, propane,” Amber said. “If you have a wood-burning stove, you want wood, dry season wood. And fuel.”

PG&E said their crews are fully staffed and ready to respond.

Caltrans said they will shut Interstate 80 down if conditions call for it.

While Gomez hopes that’s not the case, he said he’ll certainly make sure conditions are safe enough before heading out.

“One of the first things that I do is check the weather, road conditions and to see if they’re plowing,” he said. “The next thing, to see how bad it’s coming down, how cold it’s going to be.”

Gomez said even with all his driving experience he’s not afraid to pull over, and hopes others are just as careful.