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Storm turns Southern California mountains, high desert into winter playgrounds

The Lopez family strikes a pose with a snowman in Palmdale during Saturday's snow storm.
Xara Olivas makes a snowman as her siblings play in the snow during a storm in Acton.
(Eric Thayer/For The Times)
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Antelope Valley residents arose from their slumber to an unfamiliar sight Saturday morning when snow blanketed parks, lawns and surrounding desert brush.

Rogelio and Anthony Medrano, a father-son duo in Palmdale, immediately rushed out to duel in a snowball fight before they grabbed doughnuts and firewood to relax during the chilly morning.

While Anthony hurled snowballs at the white grass across the street, Lancaster residents Spirit, Terrell and Laura Jones enjoyed the sights at Pelona Vista Park up the road.

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The trio attempted to go as far as Acton in northern Los Angeles County but were stopped by freeway closures, so they detoured to take in the scene in Palmdale.

“You don’t have to drive all the way to Big Bear to enjoy the snow,” Terrell Jones said. “We’re taking advantage of it.”

The sun would begin to shine in a blue sky by 11:30 a.m., but cars continued to pace up the mountain to enjoy the rare opportunity.

Don Black and Christina White couldn’t help but immediately jump into the white powder with glee.

“I’ve lived here my whole life and it’s a freak thing to see it snow like this,” Black said.

“My prayers have been answered,” White yelled in the background as she scooped up a snowball. “It’s soothing. This is the type of weather that brings families together.”

Heavy snow began falling in Acton again about 1 p.m. and in a matter of minutes, the white powder had covered the hood and rooftop of Edgar Corona’s black Honda Civic.

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“I think I’m going to have to wait and see if this stops because I don’t think I can drive,” Corona said. The 40-year-old father of two had driven his kids to Acton to enjoy the day playing in the snowfall.

“It’s something we’ve never really experienced,” he said. “So I brought them here. It’s been pretty great.”

Inside the Acton Plaza Liquor Store, owner Sam Bellat, 61, said business had been slow because of the partial closure of State Route 14.

Bellat, who lives in Canyon Country, was stocking beverages when he glanced outside to see the heavy snowfall. He contemplated what he estimated would be an hour-long commute home.

“Maybe I’ll sleep here tonight,” he said.

Meanwhile, across the state, ski resorts also celebrated the heavy snowfall, even as the storm made getting to them difficult or impossible.

The roads to and from Big Bear Mountain resorts were closed Saturday, but its Bear Mountain and Snow Summit properties were open to visitors who were in town before the closures.

Similarly, in Mammoth, U.S. Route 395 has been closed in both directions for two days. But Mammoth Mountain resort was open Saturday, with skiers and snowboarders who were in town before the closures enjoying “really great conditions,” said spokeswoman Lauren Burke.

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Since Wednesday, the resort has seen about four and a half to five and a half feet of snow. “The storm has come in really cold, so the snow is fantastic.”

Mountain High in Wrightwood, where more than 5 feet of snow had fallen in 24 hours, was closed Saturday, as storm-related road closures made it impossible for guests and staff to reach the resort.

“We know this isn’t great news for today’s ticket holders but it is terrific news for snow lovers in the long run,” according to a statement on the resort’s website.

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