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Climate and Environment

Before And After: Satellite Images Show Southern California's Massive Snowfall From Space

The California Aqueduct flows near snow-covered mountains in Los Angeles County
If you think this view from near Palmdale is impressive, keep reading.
(Mario Tama
Getty Images)
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Record amounts of snowfall fell across the state this weekend, especially over here in Southern California where snow reached elevations as low as 1,000 feet in the San Gabriel Mountains.

"We had some snow totals as high as 93 inches at Mountain High," said Dave Bruno, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. "A lot of places above 6,000 feet had 3 to 6 feet of snow. Again, this is fairly unusual to get such high snow amounts down here."

So what exactly does that unusual amount of snow look like — from space?

A satellite's perspective

NASA's Earth Observatory released images Monday taken from a satellite showing conditions in Southern California on Feb. 10 and again on Feb 26.

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And well...

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

The aftermath

While some have delighted in so much snow, it hasn't all been fun.

Lake Arrowhead saw more than 7 feet of snow, stranding residents and visitors, including schoolchildren from Irvine away at camp.

"We've had enough snowfall that even finding street markers has been difficult in some of the communities," said Eric Sherwin with San Bernardino County Fire Dept.

Sherwin said calls for help have been in the dozens and with firetrucks and ambulances largely inoperable in the snow, authorities have been responding in snowcats.

What skiers should know

The snow was so heavy that roads to the resorts remained closed Monday.

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More than 6 feet of snow has already fallen at Big Bear Mountain, roughly 75% of what the ski resort receives in a full season.

Josh Kanton, a spokesperson for Big Bear Mountain Resorts, said once skiers and riders return, they should watch out for a dangerous phenomenon called tree wells — cavities around the base of a tree hidden under the loosely packed snow.

"Tree wells can also be a factor when we have this much snow, which is the areas directly around any sort of trees, they get deeper snowpack," he said. Kanton said in order to stay safe it's important to stay inside the ski boundary area and to ski with a friend.

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.

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