Californians snowed in by winter storm surge

San Bernardino County has declared a state of emergency as communities remain buried after a record-breaking snowfall

Millions of California residents have been issued a freeze warning and more than a dozen counties have declared a state of emergency to deal with a series of brutal winter storms.

Rescue crews work for hours to dig out communities in mountainous areas cut off by deep snow.

An 80-year-old woman has died after her porch collapsed under heavy snow, CBS News reports.

The state’s popular Yosemite National Park is closed indefinitely.

“Park crews are working to restore critical services so visitors can return safely,” park officials said.

Record-breaking snowfall forced the park to close last week. It would open again on Thursday.

Road signs buried in the snow

Road signs buried in the snow

Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for 13 counties on Wednesday night to step up the pace of disaster relief and relief efforts.

“The state is also contracting with private companies to speed up snow removal and clear roads, and is coordinating with investor-owned utilities to quickly restore power,” Newsom’s office said in a statement.

More than 75,000 California residents and businesses were without power Thursday morning, according to the tracking site

Snow clearing is underway 24 hours a day in San Bernardino County east of Los Angeles, but it could take more than a week to reach some areas, Dawn Rowe, chair of the county’s board of trustees, told the Associated Press.

The National Guard is expected to arrive in the San Bernardino Mountains on Thursday. Local media reported that the Guard’s specialized Joint Task Force Rattlesnake, which often helps fight wildfires, will arrive by mid-afternoon local time.

Some areas are experiencing as much as two meters of snow and authorities have launched 17 rescue operations to help off-roaders and skiers.

Many residents were trapped in their homes in the San Bernardino Mountains on Wednesday. The county has set up a hotline for residents dealing with issues such as frozen pipes, roof problems and food shortages.

“We know that roofs are starting to collapse (from the weight of the snow),” Ms Rowe told the AP. She warned businesses would be affected.

Mariam Magana and her family have been snowbound in their Crestline Airbnb for nearly a week — and their food rations are running out, she told CBS News, the BBC’s US affiliate.

“Our three-day vacation turned into a horrific nightmare,” she said.

Their cars are buried in seven feet of snow and they’ve called the county emergency line and the California Highway Patrol, but help has yet to arrive.

She said they were also concerned about access to medication after her children had to use both EpiPens — prescribed for people with potentially severe allergies — that they had available to them.

A vehicle buried in snow is abandoned along a highway

Some parts of California are experiencing as much as 2 feet of snow

Also in Crestline, snowfall caused the roof of Goodwin and Sons Market to collapse as safety inspectors watched. Officials salvaged what they could from the market for residents in need.

“We know that many of you are counting on us and we will do everything we can to open as soon as possible,” the market said in a Facebook post.

A resident shared photos of his nearly ten kilometer journey through the snow to do some shopping on Twitter.

To feed his family of five, he used a sled to carry groceries through the snow, as his street was still snowbound.

The National Weather Service is predicting some relief for the next few days with dry conditions expected. But temperatures will remain below average.

“There is potential for record low morning temperatures Thursday in parts of central and northern California,” the NWS said in a statement.

More than 18 million people across California received a frostbite warning Thursday morning.

More snow was forecast for the weekend, including up to 2 feet in the Yosemite area.

The same forecast predicts record high temperatures on the Gulf Coast on Thursday and parts of Florida on Friday.

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