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Drivers Beware: Snowfall Powders Southern California Mountains, Creating Dangerous Driving Conditions

WRIGHTWOOD (CBSLA) — Nearly 30 inches of snow fell in Wrightwood over 48 hours from Wednesday to Thursday, exciting snowboarders and skiers all over Southern California. But, with thousands of people set to head towards the mountains for some fresh powder, or to celebrate New Year's Eve, officials warn that the road conditions are nothing to take lightly.

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As much as 18 inches of powder fell in Wrightwood on Wednesday, with 8-12 inches following suit on Thursday, creating both a winter wonderland for winter sports fans, and a dangerous commute for many.

While the snowfall ceased earlier on Thursday, rain briefly persisted during the evening, melting some of the snowbanks on the side of the road, making for a slippery situation on Highway 2 - with icy roads and extremely limited visibility.

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Caltrans has officially warned drivers who are planning trips to the San Bernardino Mountains that their commute may take much longer than normal, especially after a portion of State Route 18 was washed out in the first storm that struck the area during one of the many December winter storms.

With that road closed as of Thursday evening, alternate routes were already experiencing high amounts of traffic the day before New Year's Eve celebrations were set to take place. Traffic wasn't the only thing plaguing the area, as the storms also brought a variety of other hazards, like fallen power lines, debris and black ice.

"If you do plan on coming up to the Big Bear area for New Year's Eve, I would recommend staying away from State Route 330 - from Highland heading up," said Eric Dionne, a spokesperson for Caltrans Maintenance, "Last night we got a lot of very wet snow mix. It loaded a lot of trees, so we had a lot of tree fall and power lines down."

Big Bear Resort officials urged the same level of caution, but didn't deter people from visiting the slopes to begin 2022. "We just want to make sure, again, that people understand the situation when they come up here. Check those conditions before you come up, whether that's the Caltrans website, or, where we list road conditions. Also, make sure you have those emergency kits and traction devices in your vehicle - and know how to use them."

As troves of people plan to set out on Friday, officials remind drivers to remain diligent in keeping an eye out for black ice, rock slides or any other hazards that come with the trek towards their winter wonderlands for the beginning of the New Year.

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