Out-of-towners expected a sunny Thanksgiving by the beach. Now they’re looking for raincoats

Vatsika Viswanathan, 8, grabs snow from the hood of a car
Vatsika Viswanathan, 8, grabs a fistful of snow Wednesday as her family stopped at a McDonald’s in Gorman near the Tejon Pass on their way from San Jose to San Diego for Thanksgiving.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The stormy Thanksgiving holiday in California took some out-of-town travelers by surprise. They expected sunshine but got rain.

“I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t pack a single coat in my suitcase. I thought I would be wearing flip-flops,” said Vy Powell, who traveled from Virginia to Orange County to visit her aging parents for the holidays.

Her flight cut into her Black Friday budget and “now that we’re stuck at home instead of lounging at the beach, I know I’m going to spend even more money eating,” said the child-care provider visiting Anaheim for the week. “We’re already going to overeat for the Thanksgiving meal. This whole break really isn’t a break. We’ll be paying for this for a while.”

Her one consolation, she said, is that she didn’t prepay for Disneyland tickets. But her younger brother, Harry Bui, did — and he now has major buyer’s remorse.


The college student, in town from Boston, said he anticipated checking out popular Disney characters on parade and sampling new rides with Park Hopper tickets for him and his friends.

“The magic of the park is taking photos of Mickey and the cool cast in sunshine. Have you ever seen a bunch of online images with rain sprinkled all over? I sure haven’t,” said Bui, who expected he would spend more than he intended because he would be ducking into stores to avoid the rain.

“Shopping is not what I had in mind,” said the business major. “I already have enough stuff. This weather is crappy.”

A cold front originating in the Gulf of Alaska arrived in portions of Northern California on Tuesday and immediately began causing headaches for motorists along mountain passes inundated by flurries of snow. In Los Angeles County, motorists had a damp drive under cloudy skies as the beginning of rain from the storm fell during the morning rush hour. The rain is expected to taper off in the afternoon, said Andrew Rorke, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.


“The real impacts will be tomorrow,” he said.

The storm was better news for ski resorts.

Justin Kanton, marketing manager for Big Bear Mountain Resort, said snow started hitting the slopes around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday and has steadily picked up since.

“I’m looking at it right now,” he said. “It looks like what everybody imagines when they think of ski resorts and winter in the mountains — everything is starting to get nice and white for when people get their first laps.”


Kanton said he was excited the storm was rolling in Wednesday because Snow Summit, one of the company’s two Big Bear resorts, is set to open Thursday. Sister resort Bear Mountain will be open on weekends starting Friday before fully opening Dec. 20.

“Forecasts are calling for flurries through Saturday,” Kanton said, adding that he would advise visitors to monitor tire chain advisories and check road conditions before heading up.

Kanton guessed that 1 to 2 inches of snow had fallen over the course of three hours.

“It’s definitely picking up, so it’s going to go up pretty significantly,” he said.


Farther north, Mammoth Mountain reported nearly 2 feet of snowfall that was “still coming down hard.” Forecasts there predicted high winds and heavy snowfall throughout the day.