A cold storm brought more chilly temperatures, rain and snow to the Southland Wednesday, creating hazardous driving conditions in the northern reaches of Los Angeles County, where the Golden State (5) Freeway was closed through the Grapevine, stranding hundreds of motorists.
Drivers on the 5 Freeway were initially stopped on the northbound side before Highway 138 at 6 a.m. as snow began accumulating on the roadway. Caltrans and California Highway Patrol crews were working to clear the roads and begin escorts, but the CHP reported that as many as 3,000 vehicles may be stuck on the freeway.
According to Caltrans, the southbound freeway was closed at Grapevine Road, while the northbound side was shut at Parker Road in Castaic. Closures were also reported on state Routes 58, 44 and 138, according to Caltrans.
“A very cold storm system will move through the area through Wednesday, bringing a threat of rain and low-elevation snow showers and gusty winds along with a slight chance of thunderstorms with small hail tonight,” according to the National Weather Service.
Snow levels dropped to 1,500 feet Wednesday morning, according to the National Weather Service.
In Big Bear City, 5 to 8 inches of snow was recorded at 1 a.m. In Arrowbear, 5 to 7 inches of snow was recorded at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. In Snow Valley and Green Valley Lake, 5 inches of snow was recorded at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, the National Weather Service is reporting.
At Live Oaks Dam, 0.36 of an inch of rain was recorded on Tuesday. San Dimas Dam recorded 0.34 of an inch and Antelope Acres recorded 0.27 of an inch.
A winter weather advisory will be in effect until noon in the Los Angeles County Mountains and the Antelope Valley. Forecasters said the mountains could see snow accumulating up to 3 inches, with 5 inches possible in some localized areas. The snowy conditions will be accompanied by winds gusting up to 45 mph.
Gusts reached 68 mph in Sierra Pelona West and 62 mph at the Ford Observatory. They were 58 mph in Lake Palmdale and 56 mph at Katee Lane in the Antelope Valley on Tuesday.
“This will be the coldest storm that we have seen so far this winter season, with the potential for widespread snow/ice impacts across many of our lower elevation passes which could make for difficult travel with potential delays or road closures,” according to the NWS.
The Antelope Valley could receive as much as an inch of snow on the valley floor, with up to 2 inches falling in the foothills. Winds will also gust through that area, reaching up to 40 mph.
In Orange County, a frost advisory will be in effect until 8 a.m. Thursday for coastal and inland areas. A winter weather advisory will be in place until noon Wednesday for the Santa Ana Mountains and foothills.
Forecasters said cold conditions will continue through Wednesday, with drier weather expected on Thursday, along with a slight warming trend that will last into the weekend.