• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

IE mountains get 1 inch of snow per hour

January 20, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
The same storm that is causing widespread flooding and mudslide danger is also bringing several feet of snow to the mountains. And that's creating a different type of danger. In Big Bear Lake, authorities are trying to keep the roads as safe as possible.A lot of snow has fallen in the afternoon hours -- heavy, heavy snow has fallen ever since the noon hours in Big Bear Lake. The past storm on Monday and Tuesday brought about a foot of snow.

This storm is expected to bring double or triple that. So an incredible amount of snow coming down, all of this should mean great conditions for skiers and snowboarders. But no for drivers.

Driving conditions in Big Bear Lake deteriorated rapidly Wednesday afternoon. A convoy of snowplows worked to keep the roads open. As far as drivers go, they won't be allowed onto the mountain without chains.

"Slide off the road easy on ice, you get in ice and you die, you slide right off the road," said a chain installer. "It happens all the time up here."

Especially on the Rim of the World Highway (State Route 18) before you get to Big Bear Lake. Caltrans put its brand-new snow-blower into action Wednesday, an important tool in their efforts to keep mountain roads open.

"All the snowplows push the snow to the side of the road, and this will pick it up and throw it over the guard rail so we can make room for more snow," said Cal Miley, Caltrans spokesman.

Up at Snow Summit Mountain Resort, the potential for several feet of fresh powder was probably the number one topic.

"Great [conditions], it's nice, nice having some powder," said Torrance resident Lindsay Artinger. "They recondition it at night, and it snows through the day. It's great."

Asked if he liked the storm, Torrance resident Frank Captanis said, "No, but it brings lots of snow, right?"

But perhaps the biggest concern for skiers and snowboarders is getting off the mountain safely.

"[The drive was] a little scary," said Oklahoma resident Derek Meeks. "We had to put the chains on and all that. That's why we're trying to get down now while we still can."

"We're supposed to leave tomorrow, but I guess if we can't we'll leave on Friday, and if not Friday, then on Saturday," said Artinger. "Yeah, we own our own business, so we can leave when we want."

About an inch per minute of snow has been falling over the past four hours.

Roads were all open Wednesday afternoon, but you will need chains on highways 18, 330 and 38. Buses and trucks aren't going to be allowed out above the 6,000-foot level. Caltrans reported road closures were possible for Wednesday night.