Southern California storms bring some snow and fun to mountains – and some fuss

The blanket of snow that covered the San Bernardino Mountains this week left some shivering with smiling faces, and some just shivering.

While Bear Mountain and Snow Summit officials rejoiced over the more than 30 inches of fresh snow that the resorts received since Tuesday, about 19,000 people were left without power due to equipment malfunctions.

Heading to the snow? Here’s what you need to know

One downed power line closed Highway 38 just before 4 p.m. from Big Bear Dam to Fawnskin.

Utility wires through the area were drooping under the weight of the ice that had accumulated around them. Some ice appeared to be 6-8 inches thick and stretched from end to end.

More than 4,000 people in Lake Arrowhead and 5,000 people in Running Springs lost power overnight Wednesday. Southern California Edison officials estimated the power would be turned on in those areas after 12:30 a.m. today.

About 10,000 Bear Valley Electric Service customers also lost power Thursday morning. By Thursday evening, 400 customers still didn’t have power.


Mary Shockley, who lives in a loft above a business in the Big Bear Lake shopping district known as The Village, lost power Wednesday afternoon, she said.

She used flashlights to see, she buried her groceries in the snow outside to preserve them, and she endured despite having cellular service for only a few brief periods since the outage, she said.

She went down to a store Thursday afternoon hoping to pick up some medicine, but it was closed because of the power outage.

“I’m sick, but I have four walls and a gas heater,” she said. “It’s basically like camping, no biggie.”

For some locals, the storm has been like the homecoming of a long-absent friend.

“It hasn’t been like this in years,” said Carie Gorney, a school teacher from Lake Arrowhead.

School was canceled for the day – snowed out – so she and several friends spent the day on the slopes at Snow Valley.

“You look out your window and say, ‘You have to go now,’” she said.

Gorney and her friends admitted the snow does cause some inconveniences – icy walkways, tire chains, removing a white mountain of powder from the car roof – but the fun outweighs the fuss.

“You have to dig out of the snow (when leaving the house), but it’s worth it,” said Larry Chick, a friend of Gorney.

Some locals were happy the snow came during the week – the roads were far less crowded, said Mike Stanclift, a Carlsbad resident originally from Lake Arrowhead.

“When it’s only you and the snow plow on the road, it’s nice,” he said.

The lack of power and telecommunications also affected customers of Big Bear Lake businesses.

“I had to pull out cash. They couldn’t run my credit card,” said Sean Masero, 35, of Playa Vista, about a local business.


Inland valley residents got a break from this week’s rain Thursday afternoon. However, forecasters say not to put the umbrellas away.

Clouds moved through the region Thursday night, bringing scattered showers, National Weather Service forecasters said. The showers are expected to weaken through the night into early Saturday.

Late Saturday into Sunday, another wave of El Niño-driven storms is expected to hit Southern California, with more storms lined up for next week, according to a National Weather Service report.

Monday is expected to be dry, followed by a small chance of precipitation Tuesday and another round of rain Wednesday through early Thursday.

The back-to-back storms are due to conditions associated with El Niño, in which unusually warm water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean lead to both torrential downpours in Southern California and drought in other parts of the world.

Since Monday, many Inland areas have received more than 2 inches of rain – some significantly more – accompanied by gusty winds, street flooding, rock slides and power outages.

On Thursday, the rain, which had been falling steadily overnight, cleared up as the sun rose.

The total snowfall in the past three days had reached between 24 and 30 inches at Snow Summit and the Big Bear area, the Weather Service said. Six to 10 inches had fallen in Lake Arrowhead and about an inch fell in Phelan.

In Riverside County’s mountains, Idyllwild recorded 13 inches and Garner Valley received 3 inches.

Wind gusts reached a high of 21 mph in the San Bernardino Mountains and hit 40 mph in the desert.


Oscar Monroy, 20, was on his way to Big Bear Lake from Downey on Highway 330 with several friends on Thursday morning for a day of snowboarding when he hit some rocks that had slid onto the roadway.

They got a flat tire and didn’t have any tools to repair it. The group had summoned help and were waiting on the side of the road.

“We Southern Californians aren’t used to this weather,” he said.

Added Ashley Michel, 19, one of Monroy’s carmates: “First, we were scared because people said, ‘You’re going up? Good luck!’ but now (after seeing the snow) we’re excited.”

They did come prepared for snow: they had tire chains at the ready.

Chain controls were in effect throughout the San Bernardinio Mountains on Thursday night. Check the Caltrans traffic map,, for the latest information.


Juan Cervantes, 17, came to Big Bear Lake with three friends from the City of Orange to play and sled in the snow.

“It’s amazing. It’s pretty. It’s beautiful,” he said.

“We didn’t expect this,” said his friend, Priscilla Gayton, as they climbed mounds of powder in a lakeside parking lot.

Miguel Guerrero, 51, comes from his Los Angeles home to Big Bear Lake often, but he’s never seen the town like this, he said.

“Almost every year we come up here and we didn’t expect this much snow,” he said. “It’s too much. It’s so cold.”

For his 7-year-old daughter, Mariana, it wasn’t too much. She was having fun jumping through the knee-deep fluff and having snowball fights with her adult sister and her husband.

Nearby, two other children were romping with their family.

“It’s soft and sinky,” said Emma Chavez, 6, who was playing with her 5-year-old brother, Moi Chavez.

“(I like to) make snow men and fight with sticks and fall down and eat the snow,” he said as he tumbled down a tiny white hill with his sister.

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