30,000 Without Electricity on Freezing Nights in Lake Arrowhead & Surrounding Communities

A Thanksgiving storm brought three feet of snow to Lake Arrowhead and over four feet of snow to Snow Valley in Running Springs. Crestline received nearly two feet of snow.

Major highways, including Highways 18 and 330, to the Lake Arrowhead communities were closed to all traffic due to heavy snow, strong winds and low visibility on Thanksgiving Day. Roughly 30,000 people were without electricity in Lake Arrowhead and the surrounding communities.

Snow and strong winds caused numerous trees to fall over, resulting in a large number of downed wires and outages in Blue Jay, Crestline, Green Valley Lake, Lake Arrowhead, Rimforest, Running Springs, Skyforest and Twin Peaks, according to Southern California Edison spokesman Paul Griffo.

No power means no heat and the temperature during and after the storm was below freezing. No power also meant no wifi and no TV to catch up with the news.

On Thanksgiving night, Lake Arrowhead resident John Richardson, who lives on Golden Rule, was suffering from severe chest pain and transported to Mountains Community Hospital in a Snow Cat due to treacherous road conditions and then transferred to St. Bernardine’s the following day.

California Highway Patrol (CHP) was busy towing vehicles abandoned in the road, including two tour buses, on Thanksgiving night. Abandoned cars blocked many major roads, making it inaccessible for emergency vehicles.

Some mountain residents lost power for more than four days. Elizabeth Krumwiede from Sycamore Ranch, located on Dart Canyon, lost power on Thanksgiving and it was not restored until Monday, Dec. 2.

“One reason our household has survived is due to our wood-burning stove,” Krumwiede said.

Another resident, Teri Ostlie, also had no power for four days.

“A driveway with a snow berm taller than me turns into an iceberg after three days,” Ostlie said. “My power was restored on Sunday night, but the internet, phone and cell service was not fixed until Tuesday.”

“We had a household of six guests staying with us through the power outage. Unfortunately, the generator we had sent out nearly three weeks ago for repair did not make it back to us in time. We literally had no cellular service, I am thankful for still keeping our landline for emergency phone calls – although that went out several times – and enough wood to keep our wood-burning stove running nearly 24/7 for warmth. This was especially important for Richard’s 84-year-old mom, who usually feels cold in good weather.”

On Friday, Nov. 29, the two highways to Snow Valley, Highway 18 and 330, remained closed, leaving skiers disappointed. Snow Valley’s opening day was delayed to the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

However, Highway 330 was open for residents only, with ID, on Friday. Despite that, major roads were still under R-3 road restrictions, so all vehicles, including 4-wheel drive, must put chains on.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the San Bernardino County Fire Department partnered with Southern California Edison to provide firewood for mountain residents who had been impacted by the storm outage. Firewood was distributed at the Crestline Chamber of Commerce and Fire Stations 91, 26 and 95.

Snow play on the roadside remained a challenge.

Rim School District called a Snow Day on Monday, Dec. 2, stating the need for personnel and various agencies such as Edison and Caltrans to have additional time to work on hazardous conditions for bus travel, downed trees and site snow removal.

At the time of press, some mountain homes and families are still without power.