‘Could Be a Repeat of Christmas Storm,’ Caltrans Warns of Another Approaching System

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Another powerful storm is expected to reach Southern California early next week, days after rain and snow wreaked havoc on major freeways and mountain highways.

Caltrans District 8 officials tweeted Friday that the new storm, expected late Sunday, "could be a repeat" of the one that hit over Christmas. Officials advised motorists to check road conditions and road closures before hitting the road ahead of the New Years holiday.

"Be prepared. Full tank of gas. Full tank of gas. Full tank of gas," Caltrans tweeted.

The upcoming storm is expected to develop over San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties late Sunday evening before moving over Ventura and Los Angeles counties after midnight and before dawn Monday, according to the National Weather Service. Orange County and the Inland Empire will also be impacted.

The heaviest rain is expected Monday but will diminish in the afternoon.

The new storm will bring snowfall as low as 2,500 feet, with heavy snowfall possible above 3,500 feet. A quarter inch of rain and up to 3 to 6 inches of snow are expected in L.A. and Ventura counties, and 4 to 8 inches of snow in San Bernardino and Riverside county mountains, with up to 15 inches possible.

"Plan on difficult travel conditions, including during the evening commute on Monday," the weather service stated.

Winter weather conditions are expected during the storm, which include low visibilities in blowing snow, icy roads and hazardous diving conditions for high-profile vehicles.

Gusty northeast winds are also in the forecast for Monday and Tuesday, according to the weather service.

The Christmas storm brought traffic nightmares during one of the busiest travel days of the holiday season. The Grapevine portion of the 5 Freeway was closed late Christmas Day after the storm dropped several inches of snow on the highway. The freeway was finally reopened late Friday morning.

Snowy conditions also forced officials to close the 15 Freeway near the Nevada state line, the Cajon Pass, portions of the 138 Freeway, Angeles Crest Highway, State Route 58 and Highway 33. For many hours, the 101 Freeway was the only feasible route into Southern California.

The same highways are expected to be impacted during the second storm, the weather service indicated.

Most of those closed roadways reopened Friday after conditions improved, officials said.

Traffic was also snarled on the 14 Freeway early Friday following weather-related crashes, including a fatality. Freezing conditions and icy roadways made the morning commute difficult for drivers in the area.

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