San Bernardino fire crews are preparing to rescue more than 130 motorists stranded in about a foot of snow, officials said late Tuesday.
The drivers were stuck on a section of Highway 138 that winds through the San Bernardino Mountains between Crestline and Silverwood Lake, said San Bernardino County Fire Department spokeswoman Tracey Martinez.
“Everyone is OK,” Martinez said. “But we need to get those people out of there as quickly as we can.”
Three snowcats were en route to carry the stranded motorists to a church, where ambulances will in turn transport them to a shelter, Martinez said.
Drivers across the San Bernardino Mountains encountered difficulty with the arrival of white powder, with the California Highway Patrol reporting calls of stranded motorists for much of the night.
The southbound 15 Freeway in Hesperia was closed just before 9 p.m. because of several cars stuck in the snow, said CalTrans spokeswoman Terri Kasinga.
Nearly all of State Route 38 -- from Forest Falls Boulevard in Forest Falls to Big Bear Dam -- was closed as vehicles became stranded in the snow.
Kasinga cautioned that drivers on the 15 Freeway should be prepared for traffic breaks and intermittent closures. Alternatively, she advised staying put, if possible.
“Tonight, I wouldn’t travel to the mountains,” Kasinga said. “Wait until tomorrow morning.”
The cold storm from Canada has brought heavy winds and several inches of snow across Southern California.
The National Weather Service forecast snow across the region to as low as 2,000 feet above sea level. The Antelope Valley and San Gabriel Mountains were expected to see a dusting, while higher elevations in Los Angeles County were expected to see up to 5 inches.
Strong winds were reported from Ventura down to the southern reaches of Orange County. Fremont Canyon in Orange County saw winds up to 57 mph, while Malibu Hills saw gusts up to 70 mph.
National Weather Service meteorologist Greg Martin said the strong winds would continue through Wednesday morning but drop off in the late afternoon.
The snow and light rain are expected to move out by late Wednesday.
“When things clear out, it should get colder,” Martin said.
The Antelope and San Luis Obispo valleys could see lows between 12 and 20 degrees Wednesday night, while the flats of Los Angeles and Ventura counties will see lows from the 20s and to the low 30s.