Southern California businesses, residents prepare for powerful incoming storm


As a cold, powerful storm front expected to bring massive amounts of snow and rain marched into Southern California on Wednesday, Feb. 22, preparations were underway at homes and businesses across the region while various government and emergency services agencies prepared to take action.

Several inches of rain and up to 7 feet of snow in mountain areas are expected to arrive in the coming days, prompting the National Weather Service to issue an exceedingly rare blizzard warning for the mountains in L.A. and Ventura counties.

Although winter storms in Southern California’s mountains are not rare, this one has many local agencies on edge. On Wednesday, CalTrans announced “Operation Snowflake” to ensure safe travel among routes like the 5 Freeway through the Grapevine.

Several cities, including Monterey Park, Pasadena, Murrieta, and Glendora are providing free sandbags to residents. Bulldozers were already plowing through Big Bear Lake on Wednesday afternoon in near-whiteout conditions.

The main precautions agencies are recommending are the ones common every time bad weather comes through the region: Charge your devices at night, keep gas in your car, don’t drive through snow without chains, and keep enough food and water to last a few days if you must travel up into the mountains. But really, they would rather you don’t travel at all.

“Have an alternate route available,” said CalTrans representative Alisa Almanzan. “Make sure you have a full tank of gas, check your tires, have some extra food and water. It’s a guarantee that there will be closures, so please stay home.”

Some residents, though, aren’t quite sure all the frantic prepartaions will be necessary.

“There’s not much more we can do,” said Andrea, who runs the Encanto Equestrian Center in San Bernardino. “We had hail earlier. The horses that were outside didn’t care.”

In Big Bear, locals are prepared to hunker down – it’s visitors who might run into trouble.

“Where we will see disruption is people attempting to come up or down the hill, which is absolutely not advisable,” said Justin Kanton, a spokesperson for Big Bear Mountain Resort. “The rule of thumb is that this is the time to take every precaution.”

Multiple wrecks already had begun to pile up across the region as drivers traversed through the precipitation. California Highway Patrol will likely be escorting drivers through the Grapevine overnight as conditions continue to worsen. Travelers expecting a scenic drive to Big Bear are expected to come prepared.

“If you’re thinking about coming up to catch an epic powder day, that’s great if you have the vehicle to do so,” Kanton said.

But, he added: “This is definitely not a ‘mess around and find out’ situation.”

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