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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)

It took us 13 hours to get from Las Vegas to Long Beach this morning. It was craziness!

CHP said to take the 58 east... I wans't about to do that. The traffic was backed up for at least 6 miles!

I took the 119 to the 166 to the 101.... took a few more hours to get home than normal but it beat getting stuck in traffic!

Must be Global Warming.

Quick! Everyone buy a Prius and SAVE THE PLANET!

You silly Californians don't know what SNOW IS. A little white stuff or wet stuff and you start crashing into everything and freaking out.

It's going to be fun to watch Californians really FREAK when something truly disastrous happens. It will be an Apocalypse.

It took us 14 hours to travel from Fresno to Orange by way of the 58 and 14 hwys on Sunday

We just catched the shutdown at 12:50am before 1 mile from Grapevine and took 1 hour to the station with a quater tank of gas leave and low bettery cell phone. We wait for 4 hour there and saw the snowstorm getting worse. More and more people came in the station. I called my brother to check the weather and traffic online. Finally we decided to leave the station @4:30 pm and took 99 North and filled up the gas. In the gas station, I was told the 85 and 14 had very bad traffic and weather and maybe close too. So we drove back 99 south, then 166 west to 101, drove extra 300 miles detour and arrived Diamond Bar at 11:30pm. Oh it was a big nightmare! but much better to stay there overnight and don't know when the freeway open. Knowing the freeway still close so far, we feel so luck to make the right decision. Thanks God.

That's funny, I came in from Lake Havasu on Saturday afternoon in 4 hrs. flat..........might help if the huddled masses yearning to drive freely would listen to weather reports. I sat home at my place in Burbank yesterday and laughed my butt off when they closed all the freeways.
Trouble with CA drivers, they have trouble with wet roads, let alone icy or snow-packed. I lived in South Dakota for almost 4 yrs. and this storm would have been nothing to deal with back there.
Too many morons on the roads out here.

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