Snow blankets Southern California mountain and high desert communities — and more weather is coming Tuesday
Luann Pitts spent much of Saturday shoveling heaps and heaps of snow off her long, sloping driveway in Twin Peaks, a community near Lake Arrowhead.
She had a card-decorating party scheduled the next day. The snow on each side of the pavement stood 3 feet tall.
“We’ve never seen this much snow all at once,” said Pitts, who has lived on the mountain for 25 years. The day before, Pitts and her husband had returned from spending the holiday with family in Claremont on roads caked with snow.
“We felt like we were on a rocky ride at Disneyland,” Pitts said.
Despite having to wrestle with weather conditions for much of the weekend, Pitts was one of the lucky ones in the mountains. Thousands of people in the Lake Arrowhead area were still without power Sunday after heavy snow and strong winds a few days earlier caused widespread outages in the San Bernardino Mountains, officials said.
And more bad weather is on the way. One to 2 inches of rain is forecast in parts of Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties between daybreak on Tuesday and Wednesday night, as a new storm makes its way across the region.
Snow is expected to hit the San Gabriel Mountains on Tuesday at the “resort level,” or at about 7,000 feet, according to Kristen Stewart, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.
Over the weekend, about 8,000 Southern California Edison customers were affected by power outages in mountain communities, including Skyland, Twin Peaks, Running Springs, Cedar Glen, Forest Falls and Crestline, where many residents have been without power since Thanksgiving Day, according to the utility.
As of Sunday night, there were still 4,200 Edison customers without power in the Arrowhead area, the utility said. It was not clear when power would be restored.
Firewood for heating was being distributed to local residents, according to Edison. Temperatures there lingered in the mid-40s on Sunday following an overnight low in the high 20s.
State Route 18 from Lucerne to Big Bear reopened Saturday after a temporary closure because of heavy snow. On Sunday, State Route 138 east of Interstate 15 was open to residents only, the California Department of Transportation said.
Slick mountain roads were jammed Sunday with skiers headed for resorts, including Big Bear Mountain, which recorded 4 feet of snow as of Friday morning. Snow Valley Mountain Resort, on the other hand, had to delay opening day until Sunday because of the weather.
In the Lake Arrowhead area, State Route 18 near State Route 189 was backed up on Sunday as drivers pulled over to snap chains onto their tires.
“If you are traveling to the mountains you must have chains!” Caltrans tweeted. “Don’t be the person who closes the routes that just opened overnight because you don’t have chains!!”
Meanwhile in the high desert, heavy snow that arrived in the Antelope Valley on Thanksgiving Day made for an unlikely scene of frosted Joshua trees and rooftop solar panels dusted with flakes. It had been years since the area was blanketed in snow.
But with temperatures climbing into the mid-40s, snowmen were melting and lawns and rooftops had thawed by Sunday.
“I nearly forgot what the stuff looked like,” said Carl Gerker of Palmdale. “I hadn’t used my snow shovel in 10 or 15 years, so I threw it away. I’ve never seen a place so dry. So this was a bit of a novelty.”
Gerker, 71, who grew up in Ohio, said his neighbors had some trouble with the 4 or 5 inches of snow they got.
“They seemed gun-shy, and then others would start out too fast and go sliding all over the place,” he said.
A few blocks away, young people were scraping snow off a front lawn to make snowballs.
“We had a big ol’ snowball fight out here,” said Caleb Bobber, 20, who was warming up a new dirt bike. “We’ll take more, for sure. It’s a lot of fun.”
Snowy roads aren’t the only means of transportation testing travelers’ patience this week. Though Sunday is the busiest travel day of the year, Monday at Los Angeles International Airport will be just as hectic, said LAX spokesman Heath Montgomery. Wait times for the shuttles and bus systems will likely be longer than usual, Montgomery said, and parking is tighter this year due to airport construction.
“Whatever buffer time you’re normally comfortable with between getting to the airport and your flight time,” Montgomery said, “add an hour.”
For anybody traveling up the state, the Bay Area will also see increased rain midweek, with the brunt of the storm hitting the Monterey coastal range. The heavy rain there is expected to taper off by early Wednesday, said Duane Dykema, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Francisco.
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