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UPDATED: Santa Clarita Valley gets a taste of snow

Weather: Rare wintry weather has SCV residents building snowmen and law enforcement closing roads

Posted: January 2, 2011 4:03 p.m.
Updated: January 2, 2011 5:15 p.m.
Snow dusts a desert flower planter on a condo balcony in Canyon Country Sunday afternoon, as temperatures dipped into the low 30s. The last time snow fell on the SCV was Jan. 17, 2007. Snow dusts a desert flower planter on a condo balcony in Canyon Country Sunday afternoon, as temperatures dipped into the low 30s. The last time snow fell on the SCV was Jan. 17, 2007.
Snow dusts a desert flower planter on a condo balcony in Canyon Country Sunday afternoon, as temperatures dipped into the low 30s. The last time snow fell on the SCV was Jan. 17, 2007.
A rose on Claudette Place in Canyon Country chills under a dusting of snow Sunday afternoon. A rose on Claudette Place in Canyon Country chills under a dusting of snow Sunday afternoon.
A rose on Claudette Place in Canyon Country chills under a dusting of snow Sunday afternoon.
A car on Claudette Place in Canyon Country sports a layer of snow and "2011" inscribed on its hood. The new year got off to a wintry start Sunday with the first snow in the Santa Clarita Valley since 2007. A car on Claudette Place in Canyon Country sports a layer of snow and "2011" inscribed on its hood. The new year got off to a wintry start Sunday with the first snow in the Santa Clarita Valley since 2007.
A car on Claudette Place in Canyon Country sports a layer of snow and "2011" inscribed on its hood. The new year got off to a wintry start Sunday with the first snow in the Santa Clarita Valley since 2007.
Wendy Heirshberg, 20, flings a snowball during the light snowfall on Sunday at her home in Saugus. Wendy Heirshberg, 20, flings a snowball during the light snowfall on Sunday at her home in Saugus.
Wendy Heirshberg, 20, flings a snowball during the light snowfall on Sunday at her home in Saugus.
Cameron Simer, 12, of Saugus, make a snow angel at Central Park on Sunday after a light snowfall blanketed the SCV. Cameron Simer, 12, of Saugus, make a snow angel at Central Park on Sunday after a light snowfall blanketed the SCV.
Cameron Simer, 12, of Saugus, make a snow angel at Central Park on Sunday after a light snowfall blanketed the SCV.
Randy Simer, right, of Saugus, throws a snowball at his son Cameron Simer, 12, at Central Park in Saugus on Sunday. Santa Clarita Valley residents had an opportunity to play in the snow as a surprise snowstorm cooled the area. Randy Simer, right, of Saugus, throws a snowball at his son Cameron Simer, 12, at Central Park in Saugus on Sunday. Santa Clarita Valley residents had an opportunity to play in the snow as a surprise snowstorm cooled the area.
Randy Simer, right, of Saugus, throws a snowball at his son Cameron Simer, 12, at Central Park in Saugus on Sunday. Santa Clarita Valley residents had an opportunity to play in the snow as a surprise snowstorm cooled the area.
Alexander Hohler, 4, of Saugus, attempts to catch a snowflake with his tongue in the front yard of his Saugus home on Sunday. Alexander Hohler, 4, of Saugus, attempts to catch a snowflake with his tongue in the front yard of his Saugus home on Sunday.
Alexander Hohler, 4, of Saugus, attempts to catch a snowflake with his tongue in the front yard of his Saugus home on Sunday.
Arielle Griffith, 18, and Arika Griffith, 19, enjoy the snow in Valencia by Valencia High School.    Arielle Griffith, 18, and Arika Griffith, 19, enjoy the snow in Valencia by Valencia High School.
Arielle Griffith, 18, and Arika Griffith, 19, enjoy the snow in Valencia by Valencia High School.
Saugus residents stand by a snowman and snowwoman that are more suited for typical Southern California weather. Top row from, left to right: Chad Gittisarn, Dillon Villalobos, Brett Piper, Christina Ratkay, Parisse Villalobos and Ruben Talamantez. Bottom row: Troy Anaya and Tyler Ybarra. Saugus residents stand by a snowman and snowwoman that are more suited for typical Southern California weather. Top row from, left to right: Chad Gittisarn, Dillon Villalobos, Brett Piper, Christina Ratkay, Parisse Villalobos and Ruben Talamantez. Bottom row: Troy Anaya and Tyler Ybarra.
Saugus residents stand by a snowman and snowwoman that are more suited for typical Southern California weather. Top row from, left to right: Chad Gittisarn, Dillon Villalobos, Brett Piper, Christina Ratkay, Parisse Villalobos and Ruben Talamantez. Bottom row: Troy Anaya and Tyler Ybarra.
Krista Viereck, 4, enjoys the snow in Castaic. The SCV was forecast for rain but the snow level dropped farther than expected, giving locals some snow. Krista Viereck, 4, enjoys the snow in Castaic. The SCV was forecast for rain but the snow level dropped farther than expected, giving locals some snow.
Krista Viereck, 4, enjoys the snow in Castaic. The SCV was forecast for rain but the snow level dropped farther than expected, giving locals some snow.
 Ty Dawson, 5, holds his snowman while having fun in the rare Santa Clarita snow.  Ty Dawson, 5, holds his snowman while having fun in the rare Santa Clarita snow.
Ty Dawson, 5, holds his snowman while having fun in the rare Santa Clarita snow.
Beau looks at the snow in the yard of owner  Raquel Westlake’s home in Canyon Country. Santa Clarita residents enjoyed the light snowfall on Sunday. Beau looks at the snow in the yard of owner  Raquel Westlake’s home in Canyon Country. Santa Clarita residents enjoyed the light snowfall on Sunday.
Beau looks at the snow in the yard of owner Raquel Westlake’s home in Canyon Country. Santa Clarita residents enjoyed the light snowfall on Sunday.
(Left) Rachel Suen, 12, enjoys the snow flurries at home in Valencia. (Left) Rachel Suen, 12, enjoys the snow flurries at home in Valencia.
(Left) Rachel Suen, 12, enjoys the snow flurries at home in Valencia.
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Snow, ice and frozen sleet blanketed much of the Santa Clarita Valley on Sunday, causing havoc on the freeways but delighting many youngsters.

Snowflakes started falling about 1 p.m. in Saugus. By 2:30 p.m., sleet was falling in Valencia, turning to ice that clung to rooftops and whitening the ground like a Christmas card.

Some residents were confused; others were elated.

“I just got back from New York, and I thought they were putting a trick on me,” said Jing De Los Reyes, 47, of Saugus.

While some residents enjoyed the thin, frosty blanket from their heated homes, others decided to get their hands dirty.

“We saw snow outside and started freaking out,” said Tristan Moreno, 16, of Saugus. “We started building snowmen.”
The low snow level caught weather forecasters by surprise, too.

“The snow level dropped about 500 feet lower than we had expected, to about 1,500 feet,” said Jamie Meier, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

A special weather statement issued Sunday afternoon said snow was likely to continue until the early morning hours today, with 1 inch to 3 inches falling in the Santa Clarita Valley.

The storm was expected to turn to showers by Monday morning as it moved east across Southern California.

California Highway Patrol officers closed Interstate 5 over the Grapevine north of the SCV in both directions about 1 p.m. as blowing snow and ice made driving conditions unsafe.

By Sunday night, the hazardous driving conditions had extended to the Newhall Pass, with cars slipping and sliding on The Old Road at Weldon Canyon Road. CHP officials said many cars were stuck but had been towed to a safe area.

Numerous weather-related problems were reported on both the I-5 and Highway 14.

According to a CHP website, vehicles were stalled up and down the I-5 and Highway 14 Sunday afternoon and evening.

Most of the hazards were cleared quickly, CHP officials said.

However, on SCV surface streets there were few problems, said Sgt. Michael Konecny at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.

“Since the snow started, I haven’t heard of any collisions,” Konecny said. “Believe it or not, I think people are actually slowing down.”

The National Weather Service said showers will taper off throughout today and the rest of the week will be dry but chilly, with temperatures in the high 50s to low 60s.

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