Rain, Snow Leads to Major Road Closures in SoCal on One of Year’s Busiest Travel Days

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Data pix.

One of the busiest travel days of the year is turning into a nightmare for drivers as rain and snow continues to fall across Southern California Thursday.

Drivers were stopped on the Grapevine on Dec. 26, 2019. (Credit: @r_t_c_94 via Twitter)
Drivers were stopped on the Grapevine on Dec. 26, 2019. (Credit: @r_t_c_94 via Twitter)

The cold storm system moved into the region on Christmas Day and prompted officials to close the 5 Freeway over the Grapevine in both directions about 10:30 p.m.

Several drivers were trapped between Lake Hughes and Grapevine Road, the California Highway Patrol said.

The roadway remained closed Thursday morning.

Weather conditions prompted officials to shut down the Angeles Crest Highway from 1 mile east of Newcomb's Ranch to the Islip Saddle/Highway 39 junction, Caltrans tweeted.

Heavy snow was also falling on the 15 Freeway in the Cajon Pass area. Drivers were warned to expect significant delays and were asked to avoid the area if possible.

Officials finally closed the freeway in both directions due to the snow about 6 a.m. Thursday.

The southbound lanes were reopened around 11:30 a.m., and the northbound side followed about three hours later.

The 15 Freeway's lanes in the Mountain Pass area were closed in both directions at about 4p.m. between Baker, California and Primm, Nevada.

The closure across the state line made travel to and from Las Vegas difficult as officials warned of extreme snow, icy roads and multiple car crashes.

Caltrans spokesperson Terri Kasinga told KTLA that crews at the scene have never seen so much snow on the roadway.

Traffic was heavy on the road as of mid-afternoon, and Caltrans warned motorists to expect lengthy delays.

"Avoid travel if possible until traffic dies down," the agency tweeted.

The 138 Freeway is closed from the 15 Freeway to Beekley Road.

Chains are required for mountain areas down to the 3,500 foot level, Caltrans stated Thursday.

A winter storm warning is in place for the San Bernardino and Riverside county mountains through 6 a.m. Friday, according to the National Weather Service. A warning is also in place until 10 p.m. Thursday for the Los Angeles County mountain areas.

Snow levels could fall as low as 2,500 feet with up to two feet of snow dropping at the higher elevations, the Weather Service stated.

The Antelope Valley is looking for up to 6 inches of snow through Thursday. Roughly 2 to 4 inches may fall in the Cuyama Valley.

Rain was also impacting local freeways Thursday morning.

A SigAlert had to be issued on the northbound 5 Freeway south of the 110 Freeway. All lanes were temporarily blocked due to flooding, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Traffic had to be diverted off at Broadway.

Flooding also forced the temporary closure on a portion of the 710 Freeway at Slauson Avenue. All southbound lanes were blocked with traffic being taken off the freeway at Atlantic, the CHP tweeted.

A tree toppled onto a 60 Freeway transition road to the 605 Freeway just after 4 a.m. A couple of vehicles may have hit the downed tree, which was causing traffic delays, CHP officials said.

Other downed trees were reported across the Southland, including in Woodland Hills where a tree fell onto an apartment building.

Heavy downpours at times led to a record amount of rainfall in Long Beach Wednesday.

 

At one point, a tornado warning was issued for Carpinteria, Montecito and Summerland. The warning was canceled later Wednesday night as the storm was no longer powerful enough to produce a tornado, according to the Weather Service.

Drier, sunnier skies are expected to return on Friday before another chance of rain arrives early next week.

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Data pix.

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