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Some play, others suffer in I.E. snowfall

January 23, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
While the sunset against the snow covered mountains may seem like beautiful scenery, the weather has created treacherous conditions in the mountain areas."It's been pretty bad, there's a lot of traffic up there and there's a lot of cars," said motorist Bacilio Hernandez. "You can get into an accident easily up there."

Highway 330, which leads up to Big Bear was shut down. Drivers hoping for some fun in the snow were brought to a standstill.

"We were going to go up to the snow and play with the kids and just have fun but we got stuck down here," said Karen Cobos, who ended up stuck on the highway.

Terry Johnson also found himself stranded. He said he was trying to get up to the Big Bear Lake area where his mother in-law was snowed in.

People were out with shovels in hand trying to dig out of over 6 feet of snow that covered the area.

Locals said it was the most snowfall in the area in over 40 years.

"We haven't seen this since the El Nino year of 1969," said Chris Riddle, who works at Big Bear Resorts.

Avalanches and rockslides forced CHP to close the highway. Saturday night Highway 330 was only open up to Running Springs, but was completely shut down leading up to Big Bear.

Earlier in the day CalTrans and CHP escorted a special convoy up the mountain.

"We're coordinating an effort to where we can open up a whole through the Arctic Circle and bring in some trucks carrying food, medical supplies, Red Cross and fuel to the communities in Big Bear," said Richard Almanzan of CalTrans.

Chain control posts have been set up for the residents trying to get up to the Running Springs area. Officials said if the weather cooperates they hope to have Highway 330 reopened sometime Saturday night.

While snow was a problem in the mountains, it was well received in the lower elevations.

In the foothill community of Yucaipa a fresh blanket of snow covered hillsides and homes. It started raining in the area Friday evening, but the rain quickly turned to snowflakes.

"It's getting pretty cold," said Pete Smith. "You don't have it here too much and it's really nice. Everybody liked it." People in the area didn't have to travel up to the mountains. Instead they turned their own neighborhoods into snow resorts.

Saturday morning kids and adults were out playing in several inches of the snow. It was a welcome sight for longtime Yucaipa residents who said snowfall is rare.

"It started coming down and it was a question of whether it was going to stick or not, and it did," said Jim Cochran. "We went out last night and there was probably 3 feet up there and there was a little bit left down here, but it just kept snowing and snowing up on the hill," said Bob Harris.

Families were out taking advantage. Many homes had snowmen built in their front yards, at least until the sun reduced them to puddles.

"We play every single time it snows," said Rita Ward. "Any excuse to get off work. It's great and we have a blast. We get all the kids out and go knock on doors and get them all out to play."


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