Monday, January 25, 2010
Cucamonga and east San Gabriels from below Forest Falls
By Guy McCarthy
Updated at 7 p.m.
MILL CREEK CANYON - All San Bernardino Mountain roads were re-opened this evening to visitors trying to reach Bear Valley and some of the Southland's most popular ski resorts.
The lifting of the closure was possible in part because the City of Big Bear organized truck convoys to deliver food, supplies and fuel to the Big Bear area, said Caltrans spokeswoman Terri Kasinga.
Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol and the Sheriff's Department helped lead the convoys up state Route 38 "to help the mountain communities following last week's heavy snowstorm," Kasinga said in a statement.
The roads had been closed to visitors since Sunday due to poor road conditions, short fuel and limited food supplies in the resort towns, said Third District Supervisor Neil Derry.
"The temporary closures are lifted as of 6 p.m.," Derry said in a telephone interview. "The roads are open to both residents and visitors."
Chain restrictions apply on the re-opened roads until further notice.
The open roads to Bear Valley included state Routes 18 and 38, though the 38 from Mentone was the only route open to buses and trucks, according to Kasinga.
"The Arctic Circle on the 18 was clear and the roads looked good," Derry said this evening after a helicopter flight with the Sheriff's Department to assess the situation. "We have another storm on the way tomorrow with 6 inches to 8 inches of more snow possible. So it's an ongoing maintenance concern, as it is whenever it snows."
Some residents were snowed in during the storms last week and some visitors were stranded without gas to get back down the mountain, Derry said.
"We did have times when the roads weren't safe," Derry said. "We did escort some supply trucks in today, primarily food and fuel."
"We did have some slides, and we had 30 to 40 vehicles stuck on the Arctic Circle at one point last week," Derry said. "The drivers had to be rescued with snowcats. We had people snowed in under five feet. They couldn't get out of their homes."
Earlier today, a pair of big rig trucks hauling tankers and other large supply trucks were lined up at a CHP road block at Bryant Street waiting for clearance to head up to Bear Valley via state Route 38.
MILL CREEK CANYON - Access to Bear Valley and some of the Southland's most popular ski resorts remained temporarily closed to visitors this afternoon due to poor road conditions, short fuel and limited food supplies in the resort towns.
The situation was likely to be updated later today, as local and state officials held conference call discussions on the closure, which was announced Sunday.
Last week's snows have been plowed off most primary roads but more snow may be coming Tuesday and Tuesday night, according to the National Weather Service.
Visitors were being allowed up to the Running Springs, Crestline and Lake Arrowhead communities in the west San Bernardino Mountains, California Highway Patrol dispatchers in Running Springs said this afternoon in phone interviews.
Further east at the resorts above Big Bear Lake, the roads were closed to visitors, the Running Springs dispatchers said.
A pair of big rig trucks hauling tankers and other large supply trucks were lined up this morning at a CHP road block at Bryant Street waiting for clearance to head up to Bear Valley via state Route 38.
County and sheriff's officials were planning helicopter flights this afternoon to assess the situation, Lt. Dale Gregory said in an interview at the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Aviation Bureau at Rialto Airport.
The concern is for residents as well as visitors stranded without fuel, Gregory said.
"They've been doing rescues at some homes with snowmobiles is my understanding," Gregory said, speaking in the lobby at the aviation bureau. Other flight crews were involved in rescues at lower elevations this morning, and a pilot checked in with Gregory before departing to the scene of crash involving a motor officer.
"It's been a busy week," Gregory said. "It's Southern California. Sometimes we get rain and snow and people freak out."
Meanwhile, the heavy precipitation last week has turned brown parts of the Inland Empire an emerald green more typically seen in Ireland. Pictured here is Mentone with San Bernardino Peak in the distance. Even parts of Moreno Valley - which translates literally to "brown" valley - and the Badlands between San Timoteo Canyon and the San Gorgonio Pass were sporting a lush green cover.