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Snow shuts key routes into and out of L.A.; more rain, snow on the way [Updated]

Getting into or out of Southern California continued to be a struggle Monday morning as snow and freezing temperatures blocked numerous roads, including Interstate 5, the state's vital north-south corridor.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of motorists were stranded along Interstate 5 and other mountain and pass roads closed by snow. People trying to get back into the region from holiday weekends to the north reported delays that lasted 12 hours or more.

Another key route, Interstate 15, was temporarily closed overnight at the Cajon Pass because of snow. But the California Highway Patrol reopened the route from L.A. to Las Vegas, which was being used as an alternative route for Interstate 5.

[Updated, 5:20 a.m.: It's unclear when Interstate 5 would reopen, but the CHP said drivers should use the 101 Freeway instead. And although I-15 was reopened, there were reportedly backups of 20 to 30 miles getting into Southern California. Traffic also has been slowgoing on California 14 and U.S. 395.]

The National Weather Service predicted another day of snow that could drop as low as 1,500 feet, affecting not only mountain passes, but also the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys.

The snow conditions will have a "serious impact on all travel into or through the mountains overnight and Monday," it said.

The L.A. Basin could see scattered showers through Monday afternoon.

A cold front that originated in the Pacific Northwest brought chilly rains, heavy snow and wind gusts of up to 90 mph.

The CHP on Sunday sent tow trucks to help dislodge stuck 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 I-5.

Matt Morrow, returning to Southern California on Sunday with his family after a ski trip to Lake Tahoe, described blizzard-like conditions and an element of chaos on the 5 as stranded motorists sought shelter and gas.

"The entire freeway came to a screeching halt," said Morrow, 47, an Internet marketer from Foothill Ranch in Orange County. "It was snowing like crazy right down there on the freeway."

Morrow, who was traveling with his wife, daughter and son, said it took nearly an hour for the traffic to move about 100 yards. Other motorists were driving onto the median to get around traffic.

"There were mild cases of road rage," he said.

The weather service on Sunday issued a winter-storm warning through late Monday for area mountains as well as the Antelope Valley, with accumulations of 4 to 8 inches predicted. There were reports of snow flurries at an elevation of 800 feet along California 126, near the Ventura County community of Piru.

Rain was expected to last through Monday in the Los Angeles Basin, with 0.75 to 1.5 inches forecast.

-- Carla Rivera and Margot Roosevelt

Photo: Jedi checks out the situation as cars are stranded on California 138 just outside Gorman after an accident closed the road. Jedi's owners were heading home to Frazier Park from camping when they were stranded. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times / Jan. 2, 2011

Comments () | Archives (32)

I was stranded last night for over 4 hours while I was coming back from LA to the Antelope Valley. I n an effort to save time, I decided get off the freeway and take Sierra Highway. Don't do it unless you got 4X4 traction on your car or you have tire chains. My car skidded dangerously. I had to hop back on the freeway and that's how I made it home safe. You have to arm yourself with patience. Remember, it's better late than never.

I swer Palmdale got bombarded with snow like, SO Hardcore!
it was so leeet...haha So leet.

whats that dog from

Gee, are these drivers stupid. If it looks like the grapevine will be snowed over (every winter for the past 100 years!) you take an alternate route. No issue here.

Got stuck in Frazier Park at the top of the grapevine off of the 5. Went to a Holiday Inn Express hoping for shelter but it was booked, then the manager told everyone in the lobby (couple dozen people) they had to leave at 6pm... Many of the restaurants closed early too forcing stranded travelers outside into the freezing snow. After realizing no shelter was available, I took a chance and just white-knuckled my car across the pass in blizzard conditions... we made it, but several motorists were stranded on the side of the road. Tow trucks were making a killing and CHP was patrolling both sides of the freeway.

Where's the High Speed Railroad so this is no longer an issue?

Where's that High Speed Train?
That would beat waiting 12 hours, just to be stuck in the snow.

Why does caltrans close the grapevine completely? If you have 4x4 and chains you should be let through like they do in northern california.

So, instead of the highways and freeways squeezing back into the L.A. Basin being bumper-to-bumper because there are too many people in southern Cal, it was bumper-to-bumper because of snow...and too many people in southern Cal. Substantial difference.

Ain't we got fun...and what's up with this...we have earthquakes, remember...

Anyone who thinks a high speed train from So Cal to Nor Cal is going to fix problems like this is dreaming. Most people need a car wherever they are going and I doubt many are willing to buy a train ticket and pay to rent a car. It's a nice idea, but not practical.

My sister and nieces got stuck in Mojave after being diverted off of 5 at Santa Clarita. They were making their way back up north. They ended up in a motel in Mojave but that is shameful that the Holiday Inn made people leave. This is not the same California I grew up in. All the phony peace and love, if you'd a gotten stuck somewhere in the midwest, they most likely wouldn't have thrown you out.

Six separate pieces here on the snow and weather. How about consolidating some of this junk?

Really strange winter. I live in the Lake Isabella area just east of Bakersfield. Our road to Bakersfield, State Route 178, has been closed about 10 days now due to rock slides, State Route 155 to Delano closed due to snow. If you have chains you can get out to CA14 or US395 southbound by going over the Walker Pass. Supplies of everything are growing low, gasoline, especially liquor stores and Kwickie Marts. I am so very fortunate to be retired where I can sit here and just admire the view. Praise God!

This stupid global warming!

Close ALL the roads to LA, give us break for a couple of days.

Closed ? Come on!! I used to live in upstate New York, Michigan, other cold weather states. They never closed the highway except blizzard storm only. I don't get it to see why California closed the freeway with small cute snow storm. What a silly! Come on CHP! Stop control our life!

Folks who think I-5 is a sure-fire road in winter just haven't been paying attention. I don't ever drive the Grapevine in winter when I need to be some place at a particular time.

Sure the 101 is the slower route but if you know snow is predicted why even chance it with the Grapevine. History tells us that it will always close when it gets sleet, ice or snow.

That being said, I for one will put Holiday Inn on my no-go list whether it be Frazier Park or anywhere in the U.S. Seriously, who throws people out in the cold? What harm would it have caused to let people stay in the lobby? Holiday Inn as a corporation should be made to answer for this on behalf of the sadistic Innkeeper in Frazier Park.

I can understand the frustration as to why the roads were closed, but remember a majority of Californian's haven't driven in ice nevertheless snow. Look at all the accidents that happened during the rainy week of last month, it more than doubled. Now combine that with icy roads and a downgrade and just see what happens.

Sadly a majority of Californians can't drive in any road conditions.

To: (Posted by: bob | January 03, 2011 at 12:39 PM)

Some of the areas where it snowed are about 30 minutes to an hour-and-a-half from the beach...it's rare to have snow in a lot of these places. I'm sure they closed the freeways because people traveling in these areas don't have snow tires, chains, etc. like they do in "...cold weather states" and don't know how to drive in such conditions, which makes things dangerous.

We never get Snow in Texas eather ....But DAMN.....there wasnt enough snow showing there is CLOSE the freeways? COME ON MAN!!

it snowed... IN LOS ANGELES!!!! wow, what is this world coming to?

@ bob bcuz snow is not normal in southern cali, ive only seen snow on big bear in cali

High speed rail doesn't appear with the snapping of fingers, it takes years.

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