Despite officials predicting only light snow flurries would be hitting the Grapevine overnight, California Highway Patrol units were forced to close Interstate 5 early Thursday morning only to reopen in the late afternoon with CHP escorts.
By 6:30 a.m., CHP and Caltrans made the decision to shut down Interstate 5 through the Grapevine due to unpassable conditions brought on by the snow and ice, according to CHP Officer Josh Greengard, spokesman for the CHP-Newhall area office.
“Operation Snowflake” also went into effect, prompting crews to open the gate north of Lake Hughes Road in Castaic, which allows drivers to turn around and travel back in the other direction.
Around 3:30 p.m., CHP officers reopened the interstate, escorting northbound and southbound I-5 traffic through the pass.
A winter storm warning was to be in effect until 8 p.m. Thursday, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Rich Thompson, who, along with CHP officials, reminded motorists to drive safely and patiently, continuing to watch your speed and following distances.
As persistent rain continued through the day, creeks and riverbeds across the Santa Clarita Valley were engulfed with water.
While rain showers were set to continue through Thursday evening, Friday and the rest of the weekend are expected to be dry, Thompson said.
The weekend is expected to remain cool, with high temperatures in the lower to mid 50s and lows in the 30s overnight, as well as breezy conditions, Thompson added.
Winds are expected to be strongest on New Year’s Day in the SCV with 20-30 mph and gusts of up to 45 mph.
The Los Angeles County Health Officer also issued a cold weather alert for parts of the county, including the SCV, through Monday, with wind chill temperatures expected to drop below 32 degrees.
L.A. County Public Health Department officials suggest residents in affected areas dress warm, limit time outside, bring pets indoors and check on elderly friends, family and neighbors.