(CNS) Heavy snow and icy roads kept thousands of motorists stranded on the Golden State (5) Freeway in the Grapevine area north of Castaic for some 15 hours until the roadway was finally re-opened this morning.
Interstate 5 was closed between Parker Road and Grapevine Road because of snow about 4 p.m. Thursday, according to the California Highway Patrol. The closure remained in effect overnight and the roadway -- one of the state's main north-south arteries -- was reopened to traffic only after 7:30 a.m., but only with CHP escorts, Caltrans reported. About 9 a.m., that
restriction was lifted.
Around that same time, westbound state Route 138, which had been closed near the 5 because of black ice, was reopened. Black ice is a transparent glaze of ice that forms on a roadway under certain conditions, and it is especially dangerous because it cannot be seen by motorists.
A winter weather advisory denoting perilous travel conditions was in effect overnight in the San Gabriel Mountains in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. It has been canceled, but mountain conditions will remain hazardous because of high winds and frigid temperatures, according to the National Weather Service.
Overnight, the wind gusted at 60 mph in the San Gabriels in L.A. County and 55 mph in Lancaster, according to the NWS. Strong winds were also battering the rest of the region, blowing at between 20 and 30 miles per hour, gusting to 50 mph.
A wind advisory indicating sustained wind speeds of around 45 mph will be in force until 10 p.m. in the Santa Monica Mountains and the Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys. One also may be declared in the San Gabriels.
Along the coast, high surf was reported, along with dangerous rip currents, and minor flooding was expected at low-lying beaches and beachside parking lots, according to the NWS. A high surf advisory will be in force until 2 p.m. Saturday.
Temperatures will remain low today, then plummet. "Temperatures are expected to drop below freezing in many areas during the next several nights. This will likely be the coldest weather of the season so far,'' according to an NWS advisory. Temperatures may drop into into the mid 20s in some coastal valleys and single digits in the mountains and Antelope Valley.
A frost advisory will be in effect from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. Saturday and a freeze watch from late Saturday night through Sunday morning in the Santa Monica Mountains and the Santa Clarita, San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.
The NWS forecast highs today of 33 on Mount Wilson; 41 in Palmdale; 42 in Lancaster; 46 in Saugus; 53 in Burbank and Woodland Hills; 54 in Pasadena; 55 in Avalon, Anaheim, San Gabriel and Newport Beach; and 58 in Long Beach, Downtown L.A. and at LAX. Marginally higher highs are expected Saturday.
Alternate Routes to the Grapevine:
US Highway 101 is rarely closed because of weather. Driving time from Los Angeles to San Francisco is six to 7 hours which is only about an hour longer than the Interstate 5 route. It's an easy, comfortable ride to the Central Coast, San Jose and San Francisco.
State Route 14 the Antelope Valley Freeway—goes north through Palmdale and Lancaster to Mojave where it meets State Route 58. Going west on SR58 takes drivers into Bakersfield and the heart of the Central Valley, also known as the San Joaquin Valley. There can be snow on SR 58 but I do not recall it ever being closed because of weather. Reconnecting with Interstate 5 to go north makes the drive to San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento and even San Francisco by way of the Bay Bridge, easy.