Heavy snow falling in parts of Southern California Wednesday exacerbated delays for motorists on what's expected to be the busiest time to hit the roads this Thanksgiving week.
Snow will drop in areas with elevation levels as low as 4,000 to 2,500 feet Wednesday night through Thursday. It will likely trigger road closures during the holiday commute, forecasters warned.
Most mountains will receive about 6 to 12 inches of snow through Friday, according to the National Weather Service. The San Gabriel Mountains is predicted to get more at about 1 to 2 feet. Meanwhile, the Grapevine is expected to get dumped with about 3 to 6 inches of snow.
"Travel will be extremely treacherous or nearly impossible," NWS warned.
Transportation officials urged those traveling to the mountains to check chain requirements on quickmap.dot.ca.gov.
If you're heading to the mountains of Southern California, be aware of chain requirements. Here's where to find more information. https://t.co/sqgv0Nj2pA
— Caltrans District 7 (@CaltransDist7) November 27, 2019
5 Freeway through the Grapevine
The Tejon Pass over the Grapevine, the Tehachapi Pass, Lake Isabella and southern Sierra Nevada have been placed under a winter storm warning effective through 4 a.m. Friday.
Caltrans and California Highway Patrol officers slowed down drivers on the 5 Freeway to bring them over the Grapevine in groups earlier Wednesday.
"We don’t anticipate the Grapevine shutting down, but it could at any minute," CHP Officer Rich Anthes said. The snow started sticking to the road, and authorities want to prevent crashes.
"Our top priority is safety, and if it becomes unsafe, we’ll shut it down," Anthes told KTLA.
Traffic resumed as normal by 9:30 a.m., but CHP planned to continue monitoring the area, Caltrans said.
Around 6 p.m., traffic on the freeway was still flowing smoothly.
Meanwhile, the storm was drenching the areas surrounding the Grapevine. Officials had to shut down two southbound lanes on State Route 99 due to flooding on the 5 Freeway, CHP's Bakersfield station tweeted just before 7 a.m.
Caltrans advised motorists on State Route 33 to use chains from mile marker 48.5 to 38.93, CHP said.
CHP provided a map of alternative routes and urged drivers to check its Fort Tejon Twitter account for updates.
The Grapevine connects Los Angeles County to the San Joaquin Valley.
POTENTIAL INTERSTATE 5 GRAPEVINE DETOURS
— CHP Fort Tejon (@CHPFortTejon) November 26, 2019
15 Freeway through the Cajon Pass
Those traveling between Southern California and Las Vegas on the 15 Freeway through the Cajon Pass will also be affected by snowy conditions, according to the Weather Service.
Snow could drop in areas with elevation levels as low as 3,500 feet starting late Wednesday afternoon, forecasters said.
It will also likely affect Interstate 8 along the San Diego County mountains and Ortega Highway along the Santa Ana Mountains, particularly late Thursday, NWS predicted.
L.A. County road closures
Because of potential snow, Los Angeles County's Department of Public Works planned to shut down the following road at noon on Wednesday:
- Big Tujunga Canyon Road from Vogel Flats to Angeles Forest Highway
- Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road from Angeles Forest Highway to Angeles Crest Highway
- Angeles Forest Highway from Aliso Canyon to Angeles Crest Highway
The Sheriff's Department recommended motorists check the county's website for updates on local road closures.
For the latest information on freeway conditions, contact Caltrans at 800-427-7623.