Early mountain snow may mean business boom


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On Wednesday, the mercury dipped low enough to bring early snowfall in Running Springs and Big Bear Lake.

Big Bear saw so much snow, that it caused a tree to topple on a power line, knocking out electricity for area residents for most of the day.

The few inches of snow was already melting midday Thursday, but the fall storm left an impression on local residents.

"I can't believe it snowed up here on Oct. 9, but you know what? It's all good. It's so beautiful up here," said Jan Pflaum, a Big Bear resident.

Several inches fell in Big Bear and many residents were surprised, because they were only expecting a light dusting.

"We don't think it's going to ever last very long. It kept going for seven or eight hours of snow," said another Big Bear resident, Elaina Vaccaro.

It's so early in the season, that many snowboard and ski shops aren't even open yet. However, getting snow this early in the season has stirred talk of opening ski resorts ahead of schedule, possibly as early as Nov. 1. Business owners in Big Bear welcome that idea.

"Our local business just loves it, and everybody is just waiting down the hill to hear that we got show," said Vaccaro.

Many are hoping that some of the snow sticks around so folks will make their way up the mountain this weekend.

Commuters trekking up to the mountains will be required to bring chains on Highway 330 and Highway 18.

Meantime, parts of the Southland are feeling the effects of the first fall storm. Caltrans is assessing mudslide damage on the 5 Freeway in Sun Valley.

The 5 Freeway was closed for hours in Sun Valley due to mud and debris covering lanes.

Crews finished clearing the mud and debris as engineers surveyed the saturated hillside. Plastic sheeting now covers the mudslide in case of more rain. The catch basin that caused the muddy mess is now cleared of several feet of debris.

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The small hillside is now holding steady, but Caltrans and a contractor are assessing the situation to make sure it doesn't happen again next time it rains.

Caltrans engineer Hugo Guzman says the plastic sheeting will disintegrate soon, so officials are trying to find a permanent solution.

The storm also caused a mess along Southland's beaches. Volunteers plan to gather along the beach to clean scattered debris from the storm. Workers from Heal the Bay will fan out and pick up garbage there as well as in Santa Monica before high tide.

This will be the group's first big beach cleanup of the fall season. Garbage ends up where it doesn't belong out in the storm drains after the first rains and then it gets sent out to sea. Wednesday's showers did not bring too much rain, but there was enough to send some debris out to the beach.

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