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Drivers sidelined in Castaic as snow and ice close Interstate 5 at the Grapevine [Updated]

Hundreds of truck drivers and commuters were sidelined in Castaic overnight after freezing temperatures forced officials to close Interstate 5 at the Grapevine. Officials expect the freeway to be reopened at 10 a.m.

[Updated at 11:19 a.m.:  CHP officers began escorting drivers through the Grapevine about 9 a.m., but the freeway remained closed to regular traffic.]

[Updated at 12:02 p.m.: The freeway was reopened at 11:30 a.m. to all traffic.]

Many drivers spent a cold night sleeping inside their vehicles, and there was more at stake for truck drivers worried about the financial strain the delay would cause. The closure left Miguel Galicia, an Oregon-based truck driver headed to Washington, with a truck load of milk.

“I’m disappointed. I’m carrying a lot of milk. I don’t know what’s going on,” said Galicia, 53. "We will have a problem with the customers because they need the product on time.”

Galicia arrived in Castaic at 6 p.m. Monday and is supposed to be at his destination by Wednesday.

Some drivers squeezed into turn lanes and along the sides of the freeway near Newhall Ranch Road, where scores of vehicles were packed along the street. Oswaldo de Coronado, 36, left San Bernardino at 5 p.m. Monday on his way to Modesto, but he also was stranded in Castaic.

De Coronado said he had heard the Grapevine was reopened, so he was surprised when he was ushered off the freeway in Castaic. He was delivering food-service packages and was worried about losing pay he needs to provide for his three young children. He could be docked two days of work because he was expected in Modesto at 6 a.m. today.

“You just don’t take detours,” De Coronado said. “It’s going to cost you.”

At the Castaic Inn, night manager Edward Caraballo said almost all of the 52 rooms were booked as of Monday night. A majority of customers checked in between 3 p.m. and 11 p.m. and included regular commuters, families and a handful of people in the construction business.

Caraballo said the atmosphere was calm and that people were relaxed and taking the situation in stride. Storms are “very good for business,” he said.

CHP officials said they expect to open the highway at about 10 a.m. today. “[We’re] not for sure,” said CHP Officer Jennifer Connolly. “We’re crossing our fingers.”

Forecasters predict dry but cold and windy conditions today, with a second storm due Thursday.

The chilly temperatures will stay awhile, said Jamie Stern, a spokeswoman for the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

"It’s going to be cold tonight; we don’t have any cloud cover that would normally insulate the heat,” Stern said. “Because we’re going to have clear skies today, it’s not going to hold in any of the heat that we’re going to receive today.”

Stern said a frost advisory for the Central Coast and the valleys in Ventura and Los Angeles counties expired at 8 a.m., but a freeze watch is in effect through Wednesday morning.

With frigid temperatures impacting truck drivers' pocketbooks and halting traffic for hours, Michelle Young, a 25-year-old from Miami on vacation with three friends, said she would not let the delay ruin their road trip from L.A. to Sacramento.

“We slept in the car, all three people. With all of our luggage,” Young said. “It just makes it that much more adventurous for us.”

-- Ann M. Simmons in Castaic and Gerrick D. Kennedy

Photo: Two motorist brave icy conditions on South bound Interstate 5 near Gorman. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

More Photos > > >

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Comments () | Archives (21)

Where was the photo taken? On the Grapevine, if so, where? Did someone forget a caption?

Where's Al-E-Gore when you need him? He belches enough hot air to melt all that beeeeautiful white stuff!

Hey Caleftfornia, how's that "man-made" global warming and that "hoax and change" working out for you, HMMMM?

Hundred of ppl depend on this highway daily to be open to support themselves and their family. Would it kill the state if they had for just the winter season, a snow-blower or equipment to salt the roads so they could get through?

God bless you, mrunpc, for having the wisdom to see through this 'global warming' malarkey. I can't believe there's still even ONE person that buys this crap - you'd think that when SoCal is snowed in, these idiots would finally get a clue...fat chance...

Dear Apple1 -
Didn't the first line of the piece say that people were "sidelined in CASTAIC?" Castaic was also mentioned further down. I'm thinking the photo was taken in or near Castaic. And if not, anywhere along the Grapevine is treacherous in this type of weather. They should close that whole stretch of the 5 when there are icy conditions.

Dear jONNY rEb -
You want the state to pay for blowing snow and salting roads when they don't have the funds to keep state offices open on a regular Monday-Friday schedule, feed and care for the indigent (over)population, operate state, county and local parks or schools, or pay their debts? Keep dreamin' buddy...

How about if you grab your salt shaker and head for the hills? Two shakes of table salt ought to be of about as much help as your last comment!
(Said with eyes rolling skyward)

What's the big deal? It's just snow.

@apple1: The caption is beneath the story.

The correct term is called global climate change and what that implies is that different areas will experience different temperature shifts. Areas in the world are not all going to heat up. It cracks me up how so many people are jumping on the hoax bandwagon. Even if this is a "hoax" is it such a bad thing to reduce CO, CO2, CH4 emissions while also trying to preserve some of these finite resources that we have on this earth?

@apple1 - that picture appears to be from this morning. Here is the caption used for that photo from the photogallery from the More Photos >> link:

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times / December 8, 2009)
A few motorists test the icy conditions on southbound Interstate 5 near Gorman. Officials had closed the roadway after a storm hit Southern California with snow, wind and rain.

And another thing, about global warming:

The earth has gone thru changes throughout its existence. Was the last (or any) ice age caused by too much pollution? Was it excess carbon dioxide that turned once lush jungles into the deserts we see today? Wasn't the Grand Canyon forged from what was once a huge body of water flowing through it that no longer exists?

I think we're just in the midst of another of earth's naturally occuring shifts with little to no effect from humans and our doings. From its inception, the earth has been ever changing, evolving. It's only recently in man's history (the last few hundred years or so) that we even have the ability to track it. What makes us think we now have the ability to fully understand all its implications, let alone control it to our liking? And why should we? If it's in the order of things that man becomes extinct, then so be it. It's happened to other species, and to cultures within the species of man. Like all things, the earth also has a life span. Are we going to beat our heads against the wall trying to extend it a few years, or are we going to enjoy what we have while we have it?

My point is, don't worry - be happy!

"Even if this is a "hoax" is it such a bad thing to reduce CO, CO2, CH4 emissions..."

Depending on how much it costs -- yes.

I hear this line a lot. It's illogical. The only conceivable harm from CO2 emissions, at any atmospheric concentration humans are capable of producing is their potential contribution to global warming - which looks to be much less than the AGW theory proponents have fraudulently claimed. It follows that if AGW is not a problem, then there is no rational basis for curbing emissions. None.

CO2 isn't a traditional pollutant, like ozone or VOCs that cause smog and respiratory distress. It's a trace gas that would need to rise to several hundred times its present level (i.e., to levels that wouldn't be reached even if we burned every last drop of oil and chunk of coal in the ground) before it would have any direct negative effects (as opposed to the "indirect health effects" potentially caused by global warming).

Doubling CO2 concentrations gets you *maybe* a half degree Celsius of global warming. The "Earth in the Balance" hyperbole is based on the assumption that a little warming will kick into gear all kinds of positive feedbacks (and no negative feedbacks) that amplify the (trivial) CO2-driven warming. That assumption is rapidly being demolished, as the frauds of scientists who've worked mightily to erase the geologic record of historical warmings (that didn't cause those "feedback" effects) are being exposed.

So enjoy the snow, eat a steak, use three whole squares of toilet paper instead of the environmentally-correct one, and don't panic.

BTW, the picture is just north of the Hungry Valley offramp on I-5, south of Gorman.

@Paul, I think you're confusing what "global warming" means. It doesn't mean we'll never see snow again: life isn't like a Roland Emmerich movie. ;) There's solid science and broad consensus behind the fact that the earth's climate is changing. What partisans are debating is the role of human activity in that change. But it would be ludicrous to claim that a single snowfall -- in an area that generally sees snow at least once a year -- has any bearing on the debate.

And while we're at it, calling people "idiots" just because they disagree with you is something eight-year-olds do. For God's sake, be a man.

Seriously, how much would a couple of salt trucks cost?

Think of the commercial traffic and the money lost.

Here we go again.... like a previous poster said, it is just a little snow, guys. Luckily the CHP isn't responsible for the entire USA, else we'd have to close down the entire Northeast quadrant of the country for four months out of every year.

Hi BeautyQueen,
The photo was taken looking north on I-5 about 3 miles south of Gorman and about 1 mile south of the Hwy 138 East turnoff which you can see in the distance.

Just a little snow, guys? It's not the snow, it's the ICE that had the CHP close the freeway! The Grapevine is, quite frankly, dangerous enough as it is due to the extreme numbers of trucks that use the route, along with vehicles traveling at speeds from 35-75 mph in the left two lanes. Add snow and ice to this mix, and you're asking for many, many crashes, probably some serious ones! Wind alone is enough to make the route treacherous, folks.

If this was a flat route with no grades, few curves, etc.., then I guess some ice slicer (mag chloride) would have helped to keep it open. However, given the overall situation (and Californians' general adverse reaction to any sort of precipitation on the road), then it was the right call by CHP to close the road.

Obama=debt, corruption

Dear mrunpc: You've mispelled and mislabeled yourself. Moron is spelled just like it sounds.

It never ceases to amaze, Right wing propagandists like yourself can take something as natural as a Pacific storm and link it to those you hate.

I'm also surprised you were not able to tie the birth certificate thing in.

All it takes is a small sprinkling of snow to push the crazy-talkers out of the woodwork into the open. There is a reason it is called "Global" warming numbnuts.

Explain your moronic comments to countries like Maldives that will cease to exist within a few decades if the rising sea levels, due to melting of polar ice-caps, keep on increasing.

How would you explain ALL the glaciers on the planet being a mere fraction of their size from even 60 years ago?

You can't. All you've got is to proclaim that Global warming is balooney after any freak local weather pattern.

think of all the speeding ticket revenue Kern county is missing out on! I am pretty sure that is their biggest source of revenue. (sorry I am me, 3 tix in Kern Co. alone in the last two years)

This wasn't just a little snow, and I hardly think the CHP would have reacted as drastically as closing the entire road if it didn't merit the occasion. FYI, car accidents are already happening all the time because of driver error, add driving under the conditions of ice, snow and a major storm and that's a huge chain car crash waiting to happen, especially since a lot of big rigs and trucks take this route! Slippery roads spell disaster.

Also, global warming isn't a myth, yes, the Earth goes through shifts in its environment, but nothing as drastic as the storm in the Philippines which sunk a lot of its cities, the tsunami in Samoa, and the earthquakes...it's real and it's happening.


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