Massive snow amounts trap Californians

Some California residents could be snowed in for a week

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Some residents stranded in Southern California mountain communities by a huge snowfall could be stuck for another week, an official said Friday.

A late-February blast of arctic air produced a rare blizzard east of Los Angeles in the San Bernardino Mountains, where thousands of people live at high elevations in forest communities or visit for year-round recreation.

Extraordinary snowfall buried homes and businesses, overwhelming the capability of snowplowing equipment geared toward ordinary storms.

Aftermath of 12 feet of snow in California

A house near Donner Lake covered with snow in Truckee, California, on March 2, 2023. Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

By last weekend, all highways leading up into the mountains were closed and have opened intermittently since then to residents and convoys of trucks loaded with food or other supplies.

The estimate by San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus was an improvement in the outlook, which previously ranged up to two weeks.

“We’ve said we could push it out as far as two weeks but because of the state’s efforts and the equipment that’s coming in behind us we’re hoping to drop that down to a week,” he told a press conference.

Snow-covered mountains surround the Hollywood sign in city of Los Angeles

Snow-covered mountains surround the Hollywood sign in the city of Los Angeles following a series of winter storms in California. Photo by Mike Blake/ Reuters

The sheriff and other officials said progress has been made, but they described severe conditions that for example have forced firefighters to reach emergency scenes such as fires in snowcats.

“The enormity of this event is hard to comprehend,” said state Assemblyman Tom Lackey. “You know, we’re thinking, we’re in Southern California, but yet we have had an inundation that has really, really generated a severe amount of anxiety, frustration and difficulty, especially to the victims and those who are actually trapped in their own home.”