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The historic winter storm affecting Southern California has so far lived up to the hype, bringing drenching rain to coastal areas and valleys, and heavy snow to the mountains – and it’s not done yet.

“We said this would be one of the strongest storms we’ve seen in decades,” meteorologist Henry DiCarlo said. “It will bring a lot of rain; it already has. It will continue to dump snow in the mountains. Driving conditions because of the snow, are extremely difficult. The winds will pick up; we’re seeing gusts in the 40s, which means we’re looking at a lot of blowing snow up in the mountains. We’re looking at rough roads for local driving … If you can stay home, do it.”

On Friday morning, Caltrans closed a 40-mile section of the 5 Freeway through the Grapevine due to whiteout conditions. An estimated reopening time has not been announced.

Also closed are the northbound lanes of Highway 135 in Orcutt and State Route 18 in San Bernardino County between Kuffel Canyon and Sky Park.

The California Highway Patrol reported 6 to 8 inches of snow at the Fort Tejon Office and 8 to 10 inches of snow at the Tejon Pass, the National Weather Service said.

Roads in the Angeles National Forest were also impacted, according to Caltrans.

“Angeles Crest Highway (SR-2) is closed from 3.3 miles east of Newcomb’s Ranch to Big Pines Highway, west of Wrightwood,” the agency said on Twitter. “Chains are required from the gate in La Canada Flintridge & also in Wrightwood.”

Also, Eaton Canyon near Altadena was closed through Saturday “due to heavy rain and flash flooding,” according to My Eaton Canyon’s Twitter account.

“Rockslides will be common,” the account added.

Additionally, Mt. Baldy Road has been closed to everyone except local residents due to “heavy snow coming down,” the Mt. Baldy Fire Department said on Twitter.

As for local theme parks, Knott’s Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain are closed on Friday.

Catalina Express is also not operating.

Storm forecast

“The storm will track parallel to the coast through Friday night before wobbling inland across Southern California late Saturday,” the NWS said. ”Isolated thunderstorms will expand from north to south across the area Friday into early Saturday before gradually diminishing towards the southeast later Saturday.”

By the time the storm moves east, rainfall will total 2 to 5 inches along Southern California’s coasts and valleys, NWS said. Peak rainfall amounts will be .25 to .75 inches per hour, bringing the potential for flooding and mudslides.

Snowfall at lower levels will recede to more normal altitudes with precipitation expected around 4,500 feet, with the bulk coming Friday through early Saturday.

The National Weather Service has issued high wind warnings for Antelope, Apple and Lucerne valleys. Winter storm warnings were issued for mountains in Los Angeles County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County and Ventura County.

A rare blizzard warning, the first since 1989, is in effect for the Los Angeles County mountains until 4 p.m. Saturday. Two to 5 feet of snow are expected above 4,000 feet, and higher elevations could receive up to 8 feet of snow, along with 85 mile per hour wind gusts. 

Mountain travel is highly discouraged.

NWS is also warning of dangerous marine conditions with gusty winds of 25-35 knots on Thursday and 35-45 knots on Friday, along with dangerously high surf, particularly on the west and northwest-facing shores.

Thursday’s Wild Weather

Scattered rain showers mixed with light snow at elevations as low as 1,500 feet in parts of metropolitan Los Angeles Thursday. Sky5 captured video of a dusting of snow atop homes just below the famous Hollywood sign.

In La Miranda, a weak tornado took down several large eucalyptus trees but spared homes.

The Inland Empire saw more extreme conditions. A 20-vehicle pileup in Yucaipa sent eight people to the hospital.

Snow forced the cancellation of classes in the Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified School District. Parents and kids gathered at Yucaipa Community Park to build snowmen and sled on roughly 3 inches of accumulated snow.

“It’s just unique … we don’t get this very often,” one parent told KTLA 5 reporter Rachel Menitoff.

A mother and son build a snowman in Yucaipa Community Park. Feb. 23, 2023. (KTLA)

Schools were also closed in the Bear Valley Unified School District.

Caltrans shut down Highway 58 between Mojave and Bakersfield after icy conditions caused multiple crashes.