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Businesses, snow lovers rejoice in IE snowfall

February 13, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
What seemed like weeks of spring time temperatures have finally turned into winter weather for the Inland Empire.

Snow flurries and dense fog appeared in Running Springs on Monday during what has been one of the driest winters on record for the area.

"It's a welcomed sight because we haven't had it all year and this town relies a lot on the tourism," said business owner Stephen Copley.

Copley owns the Ma and Paw's Pet Supply store in Running Springs.

The main attraction is the snow, but he knows people will stop in at his shop and his neighbors' before heading up the mountain.

"With the closure of the 330 last year, and the lack of tourism, a lot of businesses have closed here in town," Copley said.

It's been a tough year for mountain businesses. But winter weather has a way of making up for a poor economy. That's why snow is always a welcomed site for business owners.

"It's been slow because there has not been a lot of snow yet," said Online Ski and Snowboard rental's Jon Fox. "So we're still hoping for the end of the season to pick up."

The lack of natural snow has had the two local ski resorts churning out the man-made stuff throughout the season to attract visitors.

"This is a nice reminder that winter is still here. There is still plenty of winter left and natural snow gets everybody excited to come and visit the mountains," said Snow Valley Ski Resort's Kevin Somes.

It's that excitement that got people out despite chilly temperatures and near white-out conditions on the slopes Monday.

Sonia McMichael drove in from Lakewood to be among them.

"We were a little worried though coming on up because there was a lot of rain, and when we first got here it wasn't snowing quite yet it was like drizzling so we weren't sure, now we're like stoked!" McMichael said.

By mid afternoon the wind began picking up. On Big Bear Lake, choppy water and white caps lapped at the shore.

This week's storms are expected to bring up to 6 inches of snow, which mean more foot traffic for businesses ahead of the holiday weekend.

"That's a huge boost. So 6 inches of fresh snow would make it exceptional snowboarding and skiing this weekend," said Fox.

A few Caltrans snow plows were spotted getting ready for 24-hour snow patrols. There is a winter weather advisory in effect, as the roads are slippery and there is limited visibility due to dense fog in the area. Authorities are asking drivers to be cautious as they make their way up mountain roads.