Big Bear, CA – From 2nd District Supervisor Janet Rutherford – The Thanksgiving storm that buried San Bernardino County mountain communities in snow and severed power for thousands—including some left in the dark for days—was a stark reminder of the need for mountain residents and visitors to be prepared for winter weather.
Carrying chains in your vehicle—even if you have a 4-wheel drive—and checking road conditions before you travel in the mountain are critical first steps. Unfortunately, there were hundreds of visitors to the mountains who did not do this, and these unprepared drivers created havoc on mountain highways. Crashed and disabled vehicles eventually prompted Caltrans to close SR 18, SR 330, and SR 38. These roadways are maintained and controlled by the state, so it falls upon state agencies to determine when they are closed to travel.
But preparation goes far beyond carrying tire chains and checking road conditions.
Most longtime mountain residents know being snowed in is a possibility and are prepared to spend days stuck in their homes. They keep extra firewood, water, food, flashlights, and other essentials on hand just in case, and they use nifty tricks like storing perishables in animal-proof coolers in the snow to get by when the power’s out.
Some visitors who made it to the short-term rentals they’d booked for the holiday found themselves completely unprepared.
If you are planning a trip to the mountains this winter, you should do a few things to ensure this doesn’t happen to you. When you are booking a short-term rental, ask the host if they provide essentials such as snow shovels, firewood, flashlights, and candles and whether they provide a list of numbers you may need if you are snowed in. Whether you’re staying overnight or not, bring blankets, water, food, and anything else you might need if you get stranded in your car or in a rental for a few days. It can take several hours or more for a tow truck to reach disabled vehicles when mountain roads are clogged, and even if you’re not stuck, you might get trapped in traffic for hours because of others who are, so you should be prepared to spend some time in your vehicle.
Finally, and these should go without saying, if you travel to the mountains to enjoy the snow, please respect private property and properly dispose of your trash.