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Forest Service urges caution as winter weather returns this weekend

Local mountains packed with snow, expecting more

Posted: February 13, 2009 3:56 p.m.
Updated: February 14, 2009 9:00 p.m.
 
Arcadia, Calif., Feb. 13, 2009 - Recent storm systems have left snow pack in excess of 40 inches in the higher elevations of the San Gabriel Mountains. Even around some forest communities and along roads at lower elevations, well over a foot blankets the slopes. More snow is in the forecast for this weekend.

"Visitors need to be extra cautious," advises Forest Supervisor Jody Noiron. "Thousands of winter visitors to the Forest have safe and pleasant outings," said Noiron. "But we all need to remember that recreation in the mountains this time of year means going prepared and constantly monitoring the conditions."

Skiing, sledding, and snow play are available for all to enjoy. However, visitors are urged to come prepared for the potential hazards that come with winter conditions. Additional heavy snowfall in the Angeles National Forest this weekend may even mean limited access to some areas due to the threat of avalanches.

For avalanche awareness information, visit the U.S. Forest Service National Avalanche Center at www.fsavalanche.org

"Know before you go" by calling to check on the latest road and weather conditions for your destination.

Take along a few essential winter safety items such as tire chains, which may be required for passage, extra food and water, a flashlight, a first aid kit and a shovel. Cold weather brings icy roads, possible flash floods, fog, poor visibility, and exposure to hypothermia. Layer your clothing for warmth and bring gloves and shoes or boots suited to rugged terrain.

Planning your trip in advance and taking along these recommended items could prove critical in the event of a change in the weather, a car breakdown, or other unexpected situation. Also, keep in mind cell phone coverage is very limited in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Snow areas usually mean heavy, slow-moving traffic and slippery driving conditions. Be patient and do not attempt to pass cars except in passing lanes. Remember that while daytime sunshine may melt icy roads, late afternoon shadows will quickly cause the roads to ice over again. Be particularly alert to "black ice," pavement that looks clear but is actually glazed over with ice. Similar conditions can exist on trails, causing hikers instant loss of footing.

The California Department of Transportation posts current road condition information for the Angeles Crest Highway (State Route 2) and other state highways at 1-800-427-7623. Closures on the Angeles Forest Highway and other roads throughout the Angeles National Forest are posted on the Los Angeles County website at www.ladpw.org/mpm/roadclosure

The 680,000 acre Angeles National Forest is generally located north and east of Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Mountains. Ski areas located on the Forest include Mount Waterman (www.skiwaterman.com), Mount Baldy (www.mtbaldy.com), and Mountain High (www.mthigh.com). Always ski in control, stay in bounds and follow other posted guidelines for responsible skiing.

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