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UPDATE: Grapevine fully reopened following overnight closure

Posted: January 11, 2013 3:00 a.m.
Updated: January 11, 2013 10:28 a.m.

The first motorists are escorted past a roadblock on northbound Interstate 5 at Parker Road in Castaic as the road reopens on Friday morning. (Jonathan Pobre/The Signal)



Interstate 5 over the Grapevine was reopened to traffic by 9:30 a.m. today after an overnight closure due to snow and ice on California's major north-south thoroughfare.

Southbound traffic was flowing freely at 8:48 a.m. today, while northbound traffic was being escorted amid reports of ice still on the road of California’s major north-south thoroughfare.

The first such escort went through near the Parker Road exit at 9:12 a.m., and by 9:30 a.m. the lanes were reopened.

Hundreds of motorists were stranded on both sides of the Tejon Pass overnight after snow forced the CHP to close the freeway. Some 300 to 500 vehicles had assembled overnight at Grapevine Road on the San Joaquin Valley side of the Tejon Pass. Northbound motorists were halted at Parker Road in Castaic.

CHP Officer John Lutz noted CHP escorts were necessary during hazardous road conditions to ensure motorists kept traffic moving slowly through potentially icy areas. A de-icing truck and a sand truck were scheduled to lead the escort for the first convoy northbound.

"There are 40 miles with no services up there," he said. "We don't want people getting in trouble."

Efforts to escort a convoy southbound around 7 a.m. met with black ice on the roadway, and several vehicles spun out around the I-5 and Highway 138 area, according to website reports.

A cold front drove temperatures to near-record lows overnight, and CHP officers started shutting down the northbound and southbound I-5 lanes around 4 p.m. Thursday after snow was reported falling in Lebec. By 4:30 p.m. Thursday, snow was reported as low as Templin Highway and at least five collisions were reported on freeway lanes. 

The Tejon Pass remained closed overnight due to heavy snow in the Gorman area. The same stretch of I-5 was closed Thursday morning due to snow and ice on the roadway.

One man was airlifted to the hospital after his car crashed into the center divider on the northbound I-5 south of Gorman early Thursday. He stepped out of the vehicle and was hit from behind by another vehicle and thrown over the guardrail, suffering a head injury and several broken bones, said Officer Adriaan Garcia with the CHP’s Fort Tejon Station.

A National Weather Service meteorologist in Oxnard said no record temperatures had been broken by the current cold snap, although overnight low records had been approached.

Temperatures were generally 10 degrees below normal, forecasters said in a special weather statement.

In addition to cold weather and potential snowfall above 2,000 feet, the Santa Clarita Valley is also under a high wind warning that will continue today.

The breezy conditions are expected to last through Saturday with gusts to 50 mph today and 25 mph Saturday.
Highs were forecast to remain in the low 50s Saturday through Monday, with lows around 28 tonight and Saturday night and in the low 30s Sunday and Monday night.

A warming trend will drive temperatures into the 60s beginning Tuesday.

Garcia said it is important for travelers to be cautious and think ahead when driving in hazardous weather conditions. He recommended packing a blanket, water and snacks before taking any trip through the Grapevine, and to make sure to have a full tank of gas in case the road becomes impassable and drivers are forced to turn around.

“And you should slow down, obviously,” Garcia said. “Just because it’s a 65 mph stretch does not mean you can do 65 when there’s a blizzard outside.”
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




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