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Climate and Environment

CHP Escorts Up The Mountain For San Bernardino County Residents Trying To Get Home Remain On Pause

Deep snow covers the ground and pine trees with low-lying clouds below the mountain peaks.
Conditions in San Bernardino County's mountain communities remain treacherous.
(Courtesy Caltrans District 8)
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San Bernardino County residents have been under a state of emergency since Monday evening, as the rush of snow from the winter storm has left some people in mountain communities stranded or even snowed in.

The emergency declaration comes right as more snowfall is expected to cover the Southern California region this week.

The area has seen a dramatic influx of snow, visible in these NASA images released Monday. These are shots, from space, of Southern California from Feb. 10 and Feb. 26.

An animation shows the massive rise in snowfall over Southern California going from largely brown to big swaths of white.
(Pictures courtesy NASA)
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And here's the view from the regular air this week:

What this emergency declaration means

The declaration calls for state and federal support to help clear mountain highways and neighboring streets from snow, as well as to provide any other resources.

Schedule for escorts

Plans for the California Highway Patrol to escort residents to snowed-in communities in the San Bernardino mountains are on pause as of Wednesday morning due to the weather. Escorts up Highways 330 and 18 into the mountains were suspended because vehicles — even those with chains on — were getting stuck in snow, according to Caltrans. That remained true for the scheduled evening escorts.

Caltrans officials said they reassess Thursday morning.

Operations began last night and are scheduled — when it's safe — to take place from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and then from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Joseph Miller, a CHP spokesperson, says many residents waiting to get home are in distress.

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"It's difficult to hear people who are in this situation," Miller said, "but we also have to make sure we're providing safe conditions for them."

There's continuing concern about conditions, with more snow still falling today. As for residents holed up on the mountain, Miller said:

"We also have escorts being provided for fuel and food delivery services, that way the people who have been stuck on the mountain or have sheltered in place have the substance that they need."

Miller says residents who are planning to return home must have proof they live there. Chains are also required for vehicles.

Caltrans officials added that if traffic becomes inundated and if certain situations cause delays, then the escorts will stop. Officials also warn residents that if they come down the mountain, they might not be let back up — so be prepared for that scenario.

Escorts are for upbound traffic only on SR-18 at 48th Street in San Bernardino and SR-330 at Highland Avenue, according to the agency.

Here's the breakdown of how to figure out which route you need to take, according to your residency.

  • Residents of Crestline/Lake Arrowhead will need to use SR 18.
  • Residents of Running Springs will use SR 330.

What local authorities are saying

In a statement, Dawn Rowe, who chairs the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors and represents many of the affected areas, said local partners like the county's public works department and Caltrans District 8 are working around the clock to bring relief and resources to residents.

Erik Sund, the city manager of Big Bear Lake, says they have been plowing streets around the clock since Friday, and will be continuing for another five days.

"Right now our focus is providing public safety access," he told LAist. "So this is making sure the roads are clear for emergency personnel and our lifelines that are coming up. We are continuing to facilitate food and fuel delieveries in conjunction with CHP, Caltrans, and the sheriff's department."

The CHP has been escorting food and fuel to the city. The main challenge with clearing the roads has been the snow berms blocking the lanes. Sund said no one was injured during the storm, nor did anyone lose power.

Another storm is expected to land in Big Bear tonight, dumping between one and two feet of snow.

Snow has already impeded people in other parts of Southern California. On Monday, Orange County schoolchildren stranded at mountain camps were transported home by bus, days after they were supposed to return.

As of now, there's still no official estimate for when mountain highways will be available for public use.

Here are the resources available

  • An emergency shelter has been set up at Redlands East Valley High School. Resources are available daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and the American Red Cross Southern California is providing meals.
  • Residents can also reach out to a call center at 909-387-3911 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. for more information.
  • If you are over the age of 65 and unable to plow your driveway, you can call the Senior Assistance Center at 800-510-2020 for a list of contractors. Other local groups like the Rotary, Lions Club and Kiwanis will provide you with assistance.

FAQ on snow removal

FAQ's on Snow Removal
  • Here's some information on the county's snow removal process as provided by the county.

    • Crews begin plowing when there is 2 inches or more of snow on primary roads
    • Primary roads such as Lake Gregory Road, Grass Valley Road, Live Oak Road, Green Valley Lake Road, Maple Lane and Valley of the Falls are plowed first, followed by secondary roads, which connect the local roads to the primary roads, then lastly the local roads, such as the ones you may live on.
    • Cinders are placed on primary roads and in school areas where the California Highway Patrol advises to do so.
    • In case of emergency and if you think local rescue vehicles will come your way, call 911 or the local police immediately. 
  • If your property is damaged during snow removal or cinder spreading operations, it will be in your best interest to obtain as much of the following information as possible:

    1. Note the date of the occurrence, time, address and any other information that you can.
    2. Get a description of the vehicle (blower, blade or bucket), the color of the vehicle, vehicle number and any emblems or insignias.
    3. Take pictures of damage if possible.
  • After obtaining this information, you should call the Road Yard Supervisor in your area and explain the damage to them.

  • If the damage was caused by County equipment, file a “Claim Against the County” form with the Risk Management Division, within six months of the occurrence. A claim form may be obtained by calling the Radio Room at (909) 387-8063.Be sure and include copies of written estimates of damage and photographs, if possible. Mail to Risk Management, 222 West Hospitality Lane, Third Floor, San Bernardino, CA 92415-0016, (909) 386-8631.Be sure to check with your yard supervisor first before filing a claim against the County.

What's next

We'll keep updating this report as more information becomes available.

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 1, 2023 at 8:27 AM PST
This story updates with CHP escorts on pause Wednesday morning.
Updated February 28, 2023 at 1:22 PM PST
This story was updated with information about Caltrans escorts.
Updated February 28, 2023 at 8:57 AM PST
This story was updated with additional information.
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