Traffic in Lebec on Interstate 5.  File photo: Wiki
Traffic in Lebec on Interstate 5. File photo: Wiki

The crash took place on the southbound 5 Freeway, just south of Route 138, about 4:40 p.m., the California Highway Patrol said.

A truck was hauling a trailer. The trailer overturned and has blocked the number 1, 2 and 3 lanes, CHP Officer Michele Bond said. So far there are no reports of injuries.

“This is an area where we have issued a wind alert so it could be wind- related,” she said.

The CHP issued a SigAlert at 5:23 p.m. and the lanes were expected to remain closed for several hours.

The crash is just one of many factors motorists are dealing with on the Grapevine.

Softball-sized rocks at one point bounced onto the main highway from Central California to Los Angeles and the Southland.

Snowplows made regular shuttles up the four-lane southbound freeway to shove aside rocks that rolled onto the pavement between Grapevine Road and Fort Tejon, the site of a hillside that caught fire months ago. A large rockslide was reported in heavy rain at 11 a.m., but all lanes were cleared within an hour, CHP officers said.

At 2:30 p.m., a seven-mile backup was reported by the CHP on California 99, as drivers encountered to slow vehicles heading up from the San Joaquin Valley floor into the mountains of northern Los Angeles County. Traffic was also backed up on Interstate 5 as the two freeways merge and head towards the mountain pass gateway to the Southland.

The eight-lane freeway between Los Angeles and points north was wet, but mostly flowing slowly in the mountains. At least one driver hyrdoplaned his car just south of the summit, and it rolled off the road, but he was not injured.

The National Weather Service posted a winter storm advisory and told people to bring jackets and blankets.

Commonly called the Grapevine, Interstate 5 reaches 4,160 feet above sea level at Lebec, 80 miles north of the Los Angeles Civic Center.

Although snow was a threat throughout Sunday, it’s not the white stuff that causes problems on the 5, it’s the ice that forms when snow hits the pavement, melts, trickles across the broad pavement and then freezes. Mammoth pileups have been the tragic result in years past.

Caltrans officials and the California Highway Patrol officers have 60 years experience in this, and a network of ice detectors and human observers watching for ice. Gates are shut on the northbound freeway lanes at Parker Road in Castaic, and southbound 5 in Kern County, when ice becomes a threat.

That displaces the 77,000 vehicles that use the Grapevine on an average busy day, according to Caltrans traffic counts. There are only three freeway passes linking central and southern California, and of them, Interstate 5 has the most treacherous winter storms.

–City News Service and staff contributed to this report

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