Sunday, January 2, 2011

Interstate 5 shut Down: Snow and 90mph winds at Grapevine

Snow, wind shut down Interstate 5, a traffic nightmare for Southern California ...

Snow, wind shut down Interstate 5, a traffic nightmare for Southern California travelers

Heavy snow and 90 mph winds over the Grapevine prompt officials to close the freeway indefinitely. Chilly temperatures, rain in the L.A. Basin and snow in mountain areas are forecast through Monday.

Cold weather
Josh Breneman of Saugus wipes snow off the rear window of his car. Snow began falling in the Santa Clarita Valley about 1 p.m. Sunday. (Los Angeles Times, Kirk McKoy / January 1, 2011)

Frigid winter weather stormed into Southern California on Sunday, the final day of the New Year's holiday weekend, causing traffic delays, stranding motorists and powdering Santa Clarita and several other Southland communities with a rare dusting of snow.

A cold front that originated in the Pacific Northwest brought chilly rains, heavy snow and wind gusts of up to 90 miles per hour to the Grapevine, prompting the California Highway Patrol to shut down Interstate 5 from Castaic to the Kern County line. More than 100 vehicles were stranded, some disabled by the snow. Others tried to take back roads and became stuck in mud.

The CHP sent tow trucks to help dislodge the vehicles and escorted others through the pass, Officer Krystal Carter said. But travelers heading north and south faced daunting delays, including a detour that took them to California 126, U.S. 101, California 166 and then back to the 5. end quote.

I was caught in part of the aftermath while rescuing my son and his car when it broke down in the middle of all this. I spent about 1 hour in heavy rain that seemed like it wanted to turn into sleet on Hiway 101 from north of Paso Robles through Atascadero. For those of you who have traveled this route, Paso Robles and Atascadero are far away bedroom communities and farming country and having traffic jams is pretty much unheard of there. I looked out Hiway 46 as I intersected it on Hiway 101 and saw headlights as far as the eye could see from people driving over 46 because they couldn't get to Southern California on Interstate 5. In reading LA Times article starting with "Snow" at the top of the page I realized that today in regard to the major north south artery in California, it was a disaster for hundreds of thousands of people traveling home through or to southern California. Many people got their cars stuck in mud or snow trying to find alternate routes. We are very grateful to find a hotel to weather the storm before getting his car fixed tomorrow.

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