National Guard helps California residents dig out from several feet of snow

A new storm is impacting California and once again bringing heavy snows measured in feet to the Sierra Nevada and Siskiyous Mountains.

LAKE ARROWHEAD, Calif. – The sun was shining in California to close out the workweek, but the break was brief before another round of snow started falling over the weekend.

The unsettled weather comes just days after another winter storm brought several feet of new snow to the region, already experiencing about double the average winter snowfall. Some mountain areas near Lake Tahoe received 10 to 12 feet of snow in just seven days, topped by an estimated 144-inch new snow total at China Peak and 114 inches at Soda Springs.


Skiers may be licking their chops, but for residents stuck in towns buried under feet of snow with unplowed roads or uncleared buildings, supplies are running low.

'We need help from the state. Are you listening?'

Residents and visitors in several mountain communities, like Lake Arrowhead, have been trapped for 9 to 10 days already. These are neighborhoods less than 100 miles from downtown Los Angeles.


"People are trapped in their homes and have been for now more than five days because the streets are not plowed," San Bernardino Mountains resident Michelle Calkins pleaded on Twitter several days ago. "The snow has now accumulated up to about 9 feet on those streets. People can not walk anymore. There are moms, personal friends who are low on formula that will only last a day or two left."

Calkins snowshoes to a local store for food supplies but her neighbors who need medicines like insulin and heart prescriptions are out of luck.

"Please, we beg you. We need help from the state," she continued. "Are you listening?"

She said everyone trapped was given an emergency hotline number. 

"We were told to call in case of an absolute emergency regarding food or medical. And when we were calling that number, people were being told that help is not on the way, but they cannot do anything about it," Calkins told FOX Weather.

And just as concerning, some of her neighbors were not able to return to their mountain homes after a day of work down the mountain.

"So many people were stuck off the mountain when this really hit us, and so they were not able to get home to their pets that were indoors for over four days," she said. "Mothers just with their children home alone while their husbands are off the mountain working and just overwhelming."

Calkins took us on a video tour of the "mouse trail" that she dug from her front door to the street. The banks of snow tower over her head.

"I would consider myself one of the lucky ones here because our street has been plowed. It was plowed overnight," her tour continued. "What you can see here is the new snowfall overnight was about two feet."

Then she turns to the 9 to 10-foot berm left by the snowplow. It stands between her trail and the rest of the neighborhood.

"So this is completely trapping us," Calkins pointed out. There's absolutely no way we could get out unless we had the proper equipment."

Governor Gavin Newsom declared a State of Emergency for 13 counties, including San Bernardino County, where Calkins lives. She was relieved to hear that the National Guard was on the way to dig her out.

‘A Crazy Blizzard'

Nearby in Big Bear, a father and son had to hike over a mile to the only convenience store still open but running out of staples. They grabbed Dr. Pepper and Mexican food instead of long-gone milk.

"We are experiencing a crazy blizzard right now," a Big Bear, California resident told FOX 11. "Something like this only comes around every 50 years or so."


The California Highway Patrol and the California Department of Transportation started running escorts Tuesday before the extra 2 feet of snow. In some parts of Arrowhead, officials rescued those who wanted out of the snow, repatriated residents stuck away and brought in supplies.

"It has just been a whole lot of waiting, sitting here, waiting for them to open the gates," said resident Brian Cannon who couldn't get home. "The maintenance crew was about 30 to 40 minutes late getting to us, and they've only been able to take about two rounds so far, so about 40 cars have gone up, and obviously, there's a lot more."

Officials ran similar rescue operations and escorts in the central Sierra Nevada Mountains near Tahoe.

"A bunch of people are stuck up on the summit that were local trying to get out of here," CHP Sergeant Eric Strecker posted on Twitter Tuesday. "We definitely got some snow falling basically, avalanches coming down. And this is the only way to get up and over Donner Summit right now," he continued. "So pretty soon, we're going to be bringing all these people back the wrong way."

An avalanche Tuesday evening trapped even more people in a three-story apartment building in Placer County. Deputies could only see the top story peeking out of the snow when they arrived. The snow was 25 feet deep and 200 yards wide.

The sheriff reported that all occupants escaped without injury.

Nearby, an 80-year-old woman was reported killed when a porch collapsed due to heavy snow. A weather spotter relayed a report of 4 feet of snow in the area to the local National Weather Service.

Sugar Bowl Ski Resort in Norden, California, was slow to open. A staff member found out why no one was in the marketing department. Feet of snow covered the door on Wednesday.

Even Yosemite National Park was overwhelmed by snowfall, and the area sees quite a bit every winter. The entire park has been closed as rangers try to clear 15 feet of snow off the roads.