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Outage, Highway Closure Frustrates Big Bear Visitors

BIG BEAR ( – Curt Horton and his kids hit Snow Summit early Friday morning because it was one of the only places on the mountain with power.

"We didn't know the ski area was going to be open," Horton, of San Diego, told KCAL9. "When we got up here, we were pleasantly surprised to find out they had backup generators.

Many businesses in Big Bear Village were forced to remain closed throughout the morning until power was restored around midday.

"Literally, the whole valley, no gas, no coffee, no grocery stores, no nothing," said Russell Westphal, a Shell gas station owner. "And a holiday weekend, everybody coming up, everybody wants gas, cigarettes, everything was just shut down."

The outage was reportedly caused by a snow plow that got entangled in some power lines on Highway 38 near Sugar Loaf, according to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. Highway 38 was closed for several hours, forcing drivers to take other routes that required chains in order to safely navigate icy roads.

"They diverted us which we weren't expecting, so we didn't know what was going on," said Micah Knott of Ventura County. "So it took an extra 45 minutes to get up here today."

However, visitors who eventually made it up the mountain were rewarded with more than two feet of fresh powder.

"This doesn't happen very often, how long has it been for us?" Knott said. "I don't think I've seen it like this since I was probably 15 or 16."

"This has just been great, we never get it like this down here, the timing couldn't have been better," Horton said.

Businesses agree that the series of storms this week was just what the mountain needed.

"We got rain, I think, Wednesday, ever since it's been snowing," said Gage Egerer with Leroy's Ski & Snowboard Shops.

Snow Summit officials advise people coming up to the mountain to drive slowly and carry chains.

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