Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

Climate and Environment

Why Avalanches Have Mount Baldy Road Closed — With A High Degree Of Concern More Are Possible

A vehicle clears snow in front of a restaurant as snow falls in the San Gabriel Mountains in San Bernardino County near Los Angeles County, on Feb. 24, 2023 in Mount Baldy, California.
A vehicle clears snow in front of a restaurant as snow falls in the San Gabriel Mountains in San Bernardino County near Los Angeles County, on Feb. 24, 2023 in Mount Baldy, California.
(Mario Tama
Getty Images)
Support your source for local news!
Today, put a dollar value on the trustworthy reporting you rely on all year long. The local news you read here every day is crafted for you, but right now, we need your help to keep it going. In these uncertain times, your support is even more important. We can't hold those in power accountable and uplift voices from the community without your partnership. Thank you.

San Bernardino County fire officials have closed Mount Baldy Road until further notice because of debris blocking the road to the Mount Baldy Resort. The resort's Twitter account reported “multiple life threatening avalanches” on Wednesday below the parking lot in the Movie Slope area.

On Thursday, resort officials reported that another "significant out of bounds avalanche" covered a section of the "Bowling Alley" section of Mount Baldy Road that's located near the entrance. That took place about 5:30 a.m.

Why it matters

Mount Baldy and the Mount Baldy Resort snow play areas are highly trafficked winter recreation locations, especially when there is a chance of snowfall. With the wet weather continuing intermittently throughout the week, the threat of more avalanches pose a danger for local residents and tourists.

Support for LAist comes from

Resort officials said Thursday to stay tuned for a possible Friday opening.

The backstory

Southern California is experiencing one of its most intense and longest cold snaps in recent memory. Because wet weather is so infrequent in Southern California, it’s important to keep the population informed and updated on how to handle themselves safely.

How big was this snowfall? Here's a look at California from space on Feb. 10 and Feb. 26, courtesy of NASA.

An animation shows the massive rise in snowfall over Southern California going from largely brown to big swaths of white.
(Pictures courtesy NASA)

Why the avalanche concern?

The So Cal Snow Avalanche Center cautions that the amount of snow we've seen — with more still coming — is an "unusual amount of snow for our mountains." See the animation above for proof. Paired with high winds, there's a lot of concern that things are not stable in the mountain backcountry.

The avalanche center lists two possible scenarios that would lead to an avalanche:

Support for LAist comes from

#1 Wind slab avalanche

They write:

Will be likely and large at the upper elevations on NE and E aspects and possible on all aspects below ridgelines and on sides of gullies. Look for signs of wind drifted snow. Actual blowing snow, sculpted snow, scoured ridges and cornices, pillowed snow and firmer hollow sounding snow. These are all signs of wind loaded snow. If you encounter these signs avoid pillowed areas of snow or stick to lower angle terrain below 30°.  

#2 Storm slab avalanche

They write:

Storm slabs will be likely and have large natural avalanches and have been observed already. Due to copious amounts of snow expect to find these conditions on all aspects and increasing in danger and size as you gain elevation. Travel into near or beneath avalanche terrain is not advised at this time.  

Go deeper: Forest officials ask the public to stay alert to any updates from their official accounts, the Mount Baldy Resort account, and any new information about weather conditions from the National Weather Service.

What questions do you have about the weather we're experiencing?
A massive winter storm is hitting Southern California. We're here to answer your questions.

Updated March 2, 2023 at 8:29 AM PST
This story updated with additional context about avalanches.
Most Read