Officials say residents of Southern California’s mountain communities could be stranded by snow for another week.
People in California are struggling with heavy snow that has caused power outages and travel complications, while some people are trapped in their homes.
Some mountain communities in Southern California received as much as three meters (10 feet) of snow in the past week, according to the National Weather Service (NWS), leaving rescuers exhausted as they try to respond to an influx of calls for help.
San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus said at a news conference Friday that residents of Southern California’s mountain communities could be cut off for another week as heavy snow continues to block roads. “We said we could delay it to two weeks, but because of the efforts of the state and the equipment coming after us, we hope to cut that back to a week,” he said.
A series of winter storms have battered California, giving the state a much-needed boost to its beleaguered water supply. But the heavy rainfall has led to widespread disruption as residents contend with the extreme weather.
On Friday, the website is PowerOutage.us estimated that nearly 45,000 people in California were without power, largely in mountain areas in the state’s Central, Sacramento and High Sierra regions.
On Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency calling in the National Guard in 13 counties, including San Bernardino, to assist in emergency efforts.
The National Weather Service bureau in San Diego said Thursday that recent snowfall has surpassed records set in the 1970s, when many parts of the state last saw snow.
Comparing readings from its MODIS polar satellite with historical data, the agency tweeted that Big Bear City, northeast of San Bernardino, “received 82 inches (208 cm) of snow in seven days, up from 58 inches in 1979.”
“We cleared more than seven million cubic feet (198,218 cubic meters) of snow in our mountain communities, which is unprecedented,” San Bernardino County Fire Chief Mike McClintock said in an interview with MSNBC on Friday.
“We have more than three to 400 firefighters working around the clock with our people from local and state and county agencies clearing snow.”
At a news conference on Thursday, San Bernardino County Fire Chief Dan Munsey said emergency personnel were responding to medical calls, stranded vehicles, collapsed roofs and fallen trees.
“I have friends a few blocks away, and they’ve been without power for days,” Andrew Braggins, who lives in the Crestline area in the San Bernardino Mountains, told The Associated Press. “You can stock up before a storm. But this storm just kept coming.”