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Weather update: Freeways reopen as warming trend begins

December 18, 2008 |  7:30 am

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All three Southern California highways shut down because of snow and ice conditions are reopened this afternoon as the region's wet weather gives way to a slight warming trend.

The 14 Freeway, Interstate 5 and Interstate 15 are all open in both directions, said Officer Alex Gonzalez of the California Highway Patrol.

Shortly before noon, traffic was beginning to move on the northbound 5 that had been shut down overnight. Truckers who had been stranded for hours were lining up to drive back onto the roadway.

Otto Batty and Brian Bennett, who were among the truck drivers trapped in Castaic, complained that it had taken so long for the freeway to reopen.

Batty said that the Highway Patrol should have put signs on the road warning drivers that chains were required at a certain point.

"It's warm enough now and the snow is not so heavy," Bennett said.

Said Batty: "We have a saying: If the wheels aren't turnin' we're not earnin'."

At the Castaic Truck Stop, stranded truckers spent the morning huddled around the big-screen TV, waiting for the roadway to reopen, said manager Mark Karat.

“They’ve been stopped here for more than 24 hours and they just want to go home, they just want to see their families and they need to move to make money,” Karat said. “You can’t make money if you’re not moving.”

The 14 Freeway into the Antelope Valley remained closed, officials said.

Metrolink commuter trains were running late from Lancaster to Los Angeles this morning, with some trains canceled because crews ended their shifts so late last night, said spokesman Francisco Oaxaca.

“Our crews need a certain amount of rest before they can get back out there and work again; it’s a federal law,” Oaxaca said. “But that’s also meant a lot of the crews can’t legally start at the same time today they normally would because they need that rest to make up for yesterday.”

Interstate 15, which had been closed from Devore to Hesperia, was reopened this morning, said CHP Officer Jackie Parent. A portion of the freeway, from Baker to the Nevada border, remained closed because of icy road conditions, Parent said.

Weather conditions will remain dry, cool and blustery as the big arctic storm that brought heavy rain and snow moves east, forecasters said. A frost advisory has been issued to the Inland Empire and the San Diego deserts and valleys from 10 p.m. tonight through 10 a.m. Friday.

A slight warming trend will also begin as temperatures start to climb from the upper 50s through the mid-60s today. The weather will be perfect for anyone who is heading to ski in the mountains, said Bill Patzert, a climatologist with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge.

Another storm off the Pacific will bring more rain and snow at the beginning of next week, although the intensity of the storm will be less.

"Winter has definitely arrived. As we move into next week, people in Southern California might have a white Christmas," Patzert said.

The chilly weather comes just a few days before the first official day of winter, which will be this Sunday. Although the storm brought some inconvenience, the heavy snow was needed for a region that has suffered a dry fall and winter last year, Patzert said. The heavy snow and rain that fell in the Southland will be the "spring water supply," he said.

-- Ruben Vives, Nathan Olivarez-Giles, Ann M. Simmons and Al Seib

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