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Dorner eludes manhunt as snow, cold intensify in Big Bear

February 8, 2013 |  4:22 pm

Fat snowflakes kept falling and temperatures dropped in Big Bear on Friday afternoon, but officials said the intensifying weather hasn't slowed efforts to find the fugitive ex-police officer sought in a series of shootings.

A snow storm moved from the Pacific overnight and brought wind, snow and poor visibility into the equation.

Up to 8 inches of snow had blanketed the mountain roads and homes by early afternoon, with 30-mph winds making the temperature feel closer to 19 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. It will get colder Friday night, down to 16 degrees with a windchill at -6.

PHOTOS: Manhunt for ex-LAPD officer

And the worst was still to come: officials said Saturday morning would mark the coldest part of the storm, with snow expected into the afternoon before it clears.

But San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said the dozens of officers scouring the area for Christopher Dorner were well-equipped for the storm, using Snowcat vehicles to travel to search sites. Chains had also been put on armored vehicles, he said.

"We're continuing to search just like we did yesterday," he said. "Our folks just have different clothes and boots on."

FULL COVERAGE: Sweeping manhunt for rampaging ex-cop

The massive hunt for Dorner, 33, entered its second day Friday. Authorities are working 12-hour shifts and will continue to do so through the weekend, McMahon said.

"The possibility exists that he is here, somewhere in the forest," said San Bernardino County Sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Bachman. "We’re going to keep looking, as the sheriff said, until we determine that he’s not here."

Search crews investigated fresh tracks on Friday, but later determined they were not Dorner's. The area is popular with cross-country skiers, Bachman said. Authorities also investigated a kicked door about six miles away from the search scene, but that was also later determined to be old.

TIMELINE: Manhunt for ex-LAPD officer

Dorner is wanted in connection with a double homicide in Irvine on Sunday and the shooting of three police officers, one fatally, in Riverside County on Thursday. Authorities described him as "armed and extremely dangerous," and alerts about him were issued across California and in Nevada as federal, state and local authorities joined the manhunt.

The search centered on Big Bear on Thursday after Dorner's burning truck was found on a forest road.

Authorities are going door to door "methodically searching" about 400 cabins, he said. There is no new information on Dorner’s whereabouts.

The snow “is great for tracking folks,” McMahon said, noting that authorities continue to follow footprints.

McMahon also defended the decision to reopen local resorts, saying an extensive search around the city found no evidence that the slaying suspect posed a threat to those facilities.

Bear Mountain ski resort was closed Thursday afternoon but opened as normal Friday, as did neighboring  Snow Summit resort.

Bear Mountain tweeted weather updates through the day.

"9-10 inches," a Tweet read Friday afternoon "Tomorrow is gonna be funnnn!"

Matt Duncan, 23, of Anaheim Hills, said he came up with a group of friends on Thursday night to go snowboarding at Snow Summit. The Cal State Fullerton student  said that on Friday, the slopes were fantastic — and practically empty.

Duncan said he and his friends were not afraid of the reports of a gunman on the loose.

“We figured there’s one crazy guy on the loose up here,” he said. “If we were in LA., how many crazy guys would be out on the loose?”


How long could Dorner survive in the cold?

Dorner manhunt: Sheriff says ex-cop not a threat to ski resorts

Dorner manhunt: Police fired at carriers without warning, lawyer says

— Joseph Serna and Phil Willon in Big Bear, and Kate Mather and Hailey Branson-Potts in Los Angeles