Drivers going through the Newhall Pass or the grapevine can expect wet and windy conditions on New Year’s Eve — but road closures aren’t in the forecast, according to the National Weather Service.
Drivers are being asked to watch for debris in both passes as winds are expected to reach up to 25 mph with possibly higher speeds occurring in higher elevations. Weather officials said snow is expected to start falling at altitudes of 7,000 feet.
On Thursday, the California Highway Patrol announced a maximum enforcement period and advocated for travelers to get to their destinations safely. Josh Greengard, spokesman for the CHP’s Newhall office, said there are several precautions drivers can take to stay safe.
“Always slow down, have a full tank of gas, carry a little bit extra food. If you know you’re going to go into inclement weather, have a little bit of food in your car and have some warm clothing,” said Greengard.
Officer Adriaan Garcia with the CHP’s Fort Tejon office also shared that when traveling through the Tejon Pass, it’s best to leave before a storm hits or to wait until it passes. He agreed with Greengard’s advice and said there have been several instances where vehicles have become trapped for hours in the pass because a storm was underestimated.
Garcia also warned that having drinks on New Year’s Eve and then sleeping for a couple hours is not a sufficient enough tactic to prepare for driving — especially during storm conditions.
It is possible the Tejon pass may get a dusting of snow New Year’s Day once the initial storm passes, according to Kristen Stewart, meteorologist with the NWS.
“Usually, when the cold front passes by, snow levels will drop dramatically. So after the main rain comes through, it’ll drop to maybe 5,000 feet or so, which could lead to a little bit of residual snow showers,” said Stewart.
Both the Fort Tejon and Newhall CHP offices recommended that drivers check road conditions through either the CHP website or through apps such as Google Maps and Waze before driving. If driving, ask a passenger to check.