Santa Clarita Valley gets a taste of snow

Ray Washington of Saugus scrapes the snow off his rear windshield in the Von's parking lot in Valencia on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011. Dan Watson/Signal

By Austen Montero, Signal Staff Writer

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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