So much snow has fallen in Lake Arrowhead in recent days that resident Lisa Griggs couldn’t recognize the highway in front of her door when she walked to run errands.
She is one of the lucky ones in the mountain town of San Bernardino.
The Lake Arrowhead area has covered five feet of snow for the past five days, according to the National Weather Service. Conditions have also trapped people in their homes and vacation homes, and people are rationing food and other supplies as they wait for more information from local officials.
To make matters worse, more snow is on the way.
The Lake Arrowhead area can expect 1 to 2 feet of snow from Tuesday night through Wednesday, said meteorologist Dan Gregoria of the National Weather Service in San Diego.
“I’m not too worried, but I’m worried about other people,” Griggs said of the snow conditions.
Griggs, who lives in the Blue Jay community, said a resident who drove past her house Monday morning told her he thought his neighbor was dead. Griggs spotted a passing firefighter and gave him the address.
“What else can I do at this point?” she said.
Griggs said she’s thankful she still has electricity. She worries about elderly residents or people on vacation who don’t have enough food with them.
On Sunday, when there was a break in the snow, Griggs went shopping. She made the two-mile round trip on Highway 189 on foot to her local Stater Bros. store.
“You wouldn’t believe it was the same highway,” Griggs said. “It is (now) a single lane highway. It is very narrow and it is not plowed at all. So people get stuck in their (cars). There are cars that just get left behind because you know no one can get through.”
State Route 18 toward Lake Arrowhead has been closed since Friday due to weather, according to Caltrans. It is not yet clear when the highway will reopen.
Tractor-trailers bringing groceries and other supplies made the drive up Highway 18 over the weekend to Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake with emergency services assistance, Caltrans said.
The snowline in Lake Arrowhead will remain low on Tuesday, at about 3,500 to 4,000 feet, but may drop even lower on Wednesday to about 2,500 feet by the end of the storm.
“Many people have never experienced this kind of snowfall in their lives,” Gregoria said.
Jeanette Davis tries to make her way home to Lake Arrowhead.
She is stranded in Huntington Beach because the main roads to her home are closed.
Meanwhile, Davis rents out a vacation rental she owns in Lake Arrowhead to out-of-town guests. They planned to stay for just two days, Davis said, but it’s unclear when the roads will be cleared for them to leave.
Davis already knew snow was forecast last week, but she expected the roads to be plowed and cleared by Monday. Neighbors at home told her that her street is still closed and covered in snow.
“I think the county and state have dropped the ball in this situation,” Davis said.
Lake Arrowhead resident Nathalie Granger does what she can to help her neighbors.
The 33-year-old said she shared baby wipes, milk and dog food. It was a struggle to deliver the supplies because of the high snow hills surrounding her home, Granger said.
She said the snow hasn’t been plowed in her neighborhood since last week.
“There’s a certain amount of panic … sets in,” Granger said.
While she has electricity, Granger doesn’t know what to expect in the next storm. She plans to dig out her generator and fuel she has in a camper van, in case she loses power.
“It sounds crazy, but we’re going to ration our fuel between ourselves and two other neighbors,” she said.
In addition, she is concerned about the vacationers stranded in Lake Arrowhead with limited resources. She worries that people from other parts of California will start seeing the snow and want to visit the area.
“I just want everyone to be safe,” she said. “Let’s look at this a little bit more responsibly, because I don’t want anything bad to happen to anyone.”