Motorists Stranded for Hours on 5 Fwy as Blizzard Conditions Force Closure Near California-Oregon Border

Some drivers slowed or stranded by blizzard conditions spent 17 hours or more in their cars on Interstate 5 near the Oregon-California border.

Christina Williams of Portland, Oregon, and her 13-year-old son got stuck in the storm as they tried to drive to the San Francisco area for Thanksgiving.

Williams says she connected via Twitter with others stranded around her using weather-related hashtags, sharing information on conditions in other parts of the backup. She says “there were spin-outs everywhere” and abandoned trucks. Williams says she began to wonder if they would have to spend the night in their car.

She said it took them more than 17 hours to reach Redding, where they got a hotel room. That journey would usually take at least 10 hours less.

Hundreds of people were stranded on the 5 after it was closed near the border in both directions Tuesday.

The northbound lanes reopened between Redding and the Oregon border after 5 p.m. The southbound lanes reopened at Ashland, Oregon, earlier Wednesday.

California transportation officials said Wednesday the freeway was clear and no chains are required.

Don Anderson, deputy director of the California Department of Transportation in Redding, says Caltrans and many other agencies worked hard to communicate the seriousness of the storm but that many drivers were still caught by surprise.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.