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.
Just before 9 p.m. Caltrans tweeted that I-5 was now fully closed for an unknown amount of time on the northbound side at Lake Hughes Road and at the southbound side at the Grapevine.
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.
The National Weather Service predicted that snow accumulations in the southland could amount to as much as 24 inches, with the highest amount hitting the San Gabriel Mountains. Most areas should get between six and 12 inches with Grapevine getting three to six inches.
The NWS also advised drivers ti keep an extra flashlight, food and water in their vehicle incase of emergencies. The latest road conditions can be gotten from Caltrans by calling 800-427-7623.
“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.
As of 6 p.m. temperatures in Long Beach and Fullerton were 46 degrees; Hawthorne 47 degrees; Santa Ana 49 degrees; Santa Monica and Torrance, 46 degrees; Burbank 45 degrees; Pasadena 43 degrees; Van Nuys 45 degrees; Chatsworth 44 degrees and Pomona 41 degrees.
The NWS predicted that overnight showers would occur with a chance that thunderstorms might also appear, with temparatures in the southland dipping to the upper 40s and winds around 15 miles per hour.
The storm prompted city and county officials in Los Angeles to open 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.
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