Caltrans: All mountain roads now reopen to all drivers with some exceptions

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Sunday, March 12, 2023
Caltrans: All mountain roads will reopen to all with some exceptions
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As crews continue to work to remove snow from vital roads throughout San Bernardino County, officials announced all mountain routes will reopen to all drivers starting at 10 p.m. Saturday.

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY (KABC) -- As crews continue to work to remove snow from vital roads throughout San Bernardino County, officials announced all mountain routes are now open to all drivers.

According to Caltrans District 8, all routes will reopen with the exception of SR-18, which will remain closed in two locations: The Narrows and Arctic Circle.

"Please slow down, even though routes have reopened," read a statement posted on Caltrans District 8's Facebook page. "Our crews and partner agencies continue to utilize heavy machinery and are still at work. Heavy fog, rain and slick roads can create issues for motorists, so if you do not like driving in those conditions, consider traveling when conditions have improved."

Large vehicles, such as a buses and semi-trucks, are encouraged to use SR-330 from Highland instead of SR-18 from San Bernardino due the closure on SR-18 through the Narrows. Detours for that closure include SR-138 to Crest Forest Drive or Lake Gregory Drive.

Caltrans officials said crews are still working to remove rocks.

SR-18 will also remain closed from the Snow Valley Resort to the Big Bear dam due to high snow packs and avalanche response.

"Non-residents, please be aware that the community is still recovering," continued the statement posted by Caltrans District 8. "Be respectful, slow down, and do not park on the roadways blocking essential personnel trying to render help. Please bring chains with you, as weather conditions can change rapidly. Be prepared for long traffic queues, as you could be waiting for some time."

Officials said if an emergency occurs, routes may be temporarily closed again.

Meanwhile, the mountain communities got a brief break from the rain and snow on Saturday, but residents are still in cleanup mode, and another system could make things more difficult.

The Crestline community, most of which remains surrounded by mounds of snow, is filled with residents worried about their homes. Debbie Sorensen said she's lived in Crestline since 1995 and called the recent storms "the worst she's seen."

The snow surrounding her home is slowly melting, but there's still a growing concern.

"They're literally covered in snow," said Sorensen of her home's windows. "It was really dark in our house. We couldn't even see out those windows."

Meanwhile, another atmospheric river is already in the forecast for early next week. State climatologist Michael Anderson said a third appeared to be taking shape over the Pacific and possibly a fourth.

California appeared to be "well on its way to a fourth year of drought" before the early winter series of storms, Anderson said. "We're in a very different condition now," he added.

Crestline residents, however, are still picking up the pieces.

"We were shoveling, the big tree right here that covers most of the house, the top of it collapsed while we were cleaning the car," said Manny Acevedo. "It caused a lot of damage, broke our fence, crushed my neighbor's work van. It was nothing like I'd experience before living here for 11 years."

San Bernardino County is preparing residents for potential flooding as all that snow melts. The county said crews are monitoring flowing water and recommend that residents rake snow off their roofs and protect their homes with sandbags.

"Obviously, the flooding is a bit of a concern, but being on higher elevation, a lot of it trickles downward but there can be a lot of flooding that happens here in town, too," said Chad Lindsey. "Back a few months ago when there was heavy rains ... it's been kind of a storm season for Cresline."

A handful of distribution sites are open for residents to get items like food, diapers and sandbags.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.