A Thanksgiving storm out of the Gulf of Alaska unleashed rain, snow and cold winds on the Southland Thursday, threatening floods and temporarily shutting down a major freeway on one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.
Thick, wind-driven snow flurries fell in the mountains and the Antelope Valley, where the National Weather Service predicted 4 to 8 inches of snow Thursday.
Interstate 5 was closed in both directions at the Grapevine, with northbound drivers being turned around just after the Lake Hughes Road exit in Castaic. It was closed at around 4:30 a.m. with substantial snow falling on the road. The southbound I-5 reopened a little after 1:30 p.m. with the California Highway Patrol escorting drivers through the pass. The northbound side reopened at around 3:15 p.m.
Drivers were advised to avoid the 14 Freeway in the Antelope Valley as well, where there was also snow on the road.
The greater Los Angeles area was expected to get between 1.5 and 2 inches of rain on Thanksgiving. A flood warning was in effect until 10 p.m. Thursday in Orange County, for Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, and San Clemente.
A winter storm warning signifying an expectation of difficult travel conditions will be in effect for Los Angeles County mountains until 4 a.m. Friday.
“There will be a few lingering showers Friday and it will be cold but showers will begin tapering off by Friday morning.
The snow level will drop to 2,500-3,000 feet Thursday night, according to the weather service.
“Travel could be very difficult to impossible,” warned an weather service statement. “The hazardous conditions could result in temporary road closures.”
Meanwhile, temperatures were unusually icy across the Southland. Thursday’s high in downtown Los Angeles was 56, with 58 forecast for Friday. It was 38 in Palmdale and Lancaster, 50 in Santa Clarita, 54 in Woodland Hills and Pasadena and 55 in Anaheim.
The storm prompted city and county officials in Los Angeles to open their 24-hour shelters early for the homeless to escape the cold and rain. More than 500 new emergency shelter beds opened Wednesday in Los Angeles, and more are opening across the city Thursday and Friday. Countywide, the Board of Supervisors voted to open seven shelters early, all of them by Friday.
More information can be found at www.lahsa.org.