Big Bear's heaviest November snow storm in 50 years leads to road closures, power outages

ByAmy Powell and staff via KABC logo
Sunday, December 1, 2019
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The heaviest November storm to hit Big Bear in 50 years led to road closures, stuck cars and power outages.

Mountain communities are still digging out from a powerful Thanksgiving storm that caused road closures and power outages.

The heaviest November storm to hit Big Bear in more than 50 years led to road closures, stuck cars and power outages through Saturday.

The area saw 42 to 48 inches of snow fall in two days, according to the Big Bear Mountain Resort.

The resort said the last time even close to that much snow fell in November was in 1964, when 38 inches fell over two days.

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"We've been coming up to Big Bear for 35 years. We've never seen the traffic this bad and have never seen four feet of snow," said Sheila Marchbanks, Big Bear visitor.

Highways 330 reopened to everyone as of Saturday evening. Anyone driving in the area was required to have chains. Highway 18 from Lucerne Valley was reopened Saturday, but remained closed from Running Springs into Big Bear.

Big Bear Mountain Resort opened Friday along with Snow Valley in Running Springs Mountain Resort and Mountain High Resort in Wrightwood.

Several feet of snow covered yards and streets. Plows were busy clearing roads, but skiers, snowboarders and others hoping to enjoy the snow were getting stuck in massive traffic jams.

"I've driven five hours already. I feel it would be pointless to turn back now," one motorist stuck in gridlock traffic said.

Some said it was getting tough to find gas in the mountain communities.

"There's no more gas. We tried to get before coming down, but all the tanks were empty. Everything's gone," said Valerie Rico.

Southern California Edison continued to work on restoring power. As of Saturday evening, 8,000 remained without power in Arrowhead.

It is early in the season to see such conditions, but they won't be going away anytime soon. The trek is expected to be treacherous for those who try and make the trip over the busy Thanksgiving weekend.

Running Springs resident Helene Forman advised visitors to just have patience and said the snow isn't going to disappear anytime soon.

"If the road's closed, you can't get here. We'll be here when they open. The snow is not going to warm up and melt anytime soon. We're going to have an epic winter," Forman said.