A Big Bear Emergency Shelter is scheduled to open at Big Bear Middle School in Big Bear Lake today and, per Big Bear Lake City Manager Jeff Mathieu, the plan is to have the shelter open before dark. “We will have basic services and refreshments,” he tells KBHR, “and the shelter will be staffed by volunteers and Red Cross personnel, and under the guidance of the California Office of Emergency Services.” He notes that those in need of shelter from the cold, or those without electrical service will be welcomed on a first-come, first-served basis at Big Bear Middle School, located at 41275 Big Bear Boulevard in Big Bear Lake; the Jeffries Road entrance to the west will be open. The shelter is made possible by the cooperation of the Bear Valley Unified School District, the Big Bear Lake Fire Protection District and the City of Big Bear Lake. (Update: Shelter is open as of 5pm, and also has cots and basic provisions available.)
City Manager Mathieu also wants Valley residents to know that the City of Big Bear Lake has all emergency personnel and services deployed. Staff of the Big Bear Sheriff’s Station are assisting in the efforts of the City, while also responding to all 911 calls and covering for the California Highway Patrol, while they (CHP officers) are at the base of the mountain handling traffic and road closures. He also notes that Sheriff’s personnel, including the Citizens on Patrol volunteers, have been “incredible” during storm efforts.
In terms of road closures, Terri Kasinga of CalTrans tells KBHR this afternoon that Highway 38 will be closed for at least several days, due to 20’ snow drifts and packed snow above the guardrails, and yet limited manpower to address these issues. Given the Highway 38 closure, residents of both Angelus Oaks and Forest Falls are being removed from the area, via snowcats.
As for Highway 18 west of the Big Bear Dam, emergency personnel have cleared the roadway of all travelers stranded on the road. A giant snowblower is now being used to clear Highway 18 and the Arctic Circle of snow, and it is anticipated that Highway 18 “down the front way” will be re-opened to travelers early this evening. (Update: Highway 18 will remain closed tonight.)
Highway 18 east to the desert communities does remain open, and is the only route available in and out of the Big Bear Valley at this time. (Update: This being the case, congestion is heavy. Update as of 7pm: Closed for an indefinite period.) Highway 18 to Lucerne, and all roads within the Big Bear Valley, remain under an R3 chain requirement, meaning that all vehicles, including four-wheel drives with snow tires, must have chains on. As of this afternoon, those traveling to/from Fawnskin should note that the North Shore/Highway 38 is blocked at Canyon Road due to a downed tree. (Update: This has been cleared.) For updated road conditions, visit the Big Bear Road Conditions page.