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Headed for the high country? Be prepared for bad weather

An early snowfall in the Sierra Nevada gave hikers and campers a surprise, and led to the temporary closing of a high mountain pass.

The snow that fell Thursday -- as much as five inches in places -- mostly melted, but more is expected through the weekend, weather officials said. They warned those heading to the high country to be prepared.

The snowfall closed Tioga Pass Road and Glacier Point Road in Yosemite National Park early Thursday, and park officials kept the roads closed through Friday morning because of the danger of melting ice, Yosemite ranger Adrienne Freeman said.

"Conditions can change really quickly in the mountains this time of year, so travelers should be aware," Freeman said.

She said anyone heading into the park during the weekend can call Yosemite (372-0200, press 1, then 1 again) to check on road conditions.

Although early storms are not unheard of, warnings are warranted, park officials said. Hikers and climbers became stranded during an October 2004 snowstorm, and about a dozen rescues had to be carried out between Yosemite and Mount Whitney.

National park and forest officials said visitors should bring warm, water-repellent clothing, food, water, medical supplies and tire chains. They should also notify someone of their plans and destination, officials said.

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