There's a lot of discussion about this on the Mammoth Forum. The "50 year" quote is from a forecaster who has a reputation for hype. Memories are always short when it comes to weather and snow storms. Here is a good benchmark IMHO: http://webpages.charter.net/tcrocker818/bldy2141.htm
. It takes a very rare and precise storm track to produce a result like that.
The most impressive SoCal cold storm of my memory was late January/early February 1979. That was another 5-7 footer at Baldy with even lower snow levels than 2001. It snowed 6 inches in Palm Springs and 2 feet in the San Gorgonio Pass ~2,500 feet leading to it. With widespread snow in the low deserts of SoCal, Arizona and New Mexico I remember reading comments about it being the maximum snow cover for North America in some long number of years.
The only meaningful snow in the Los Angeles basin itself was in January 1949. Foothill suburbs over 1,500 feet used to get snow every 7 years or so, but with urban heat island effect it's more like 20-25 years now. The Verdugo peaks above my house top out at 3,000 and they have had snow twice (1987 and 2001) in the 24 years I've lived there.
The storm is expected to arrive overnight and total maybe 2 feet of snow in the ski areas. Not that unusual, except for the lower than average snow levels. I'll believe the snow as low as 3,000 when I see it above my house, given recent rarity of that.