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Southland snow storm snarls traffic, closes schools

CASTAIC, Calif. (KABC) – The new year’s first storm brought rain and even snow to parts of the Southland, snarling traffic and shutting schools on Monday.

The Cajon Pass on the 15 Freeway was shut down Sunday night from ice and snow but is has since reopened. However, as of Monday morning, a 30-mile backup persisted and snow was still falling.

Also, the Grapevine through the 5 Freeway remains closed at Parker Road in Castaic as snow and ice made for treacherous driving conditions.

Many drivers were stranded and resorted to sleeping in their cars in fast food restaurant parking lots as vacant motel rooms were scarce.

Hundreds of drivers were forced off the freeway amidst a huge traffic jam as many attempted to get back home after the holiday weekend.

“I don’t think it’s safe for anyone to drive up there,” said San Jose resident Issac Herrera. “On the way down, you get more speed so there’s a lot more accidents.”

According to the California Highway Patrol, it has stopped snowing over the pass but the roads were still full of ice. Officials said they will reassess the situation later Monday morning and decide whether to reopen or keep the Grapevine closed.

Commuters were advised to take an alternate route by taking the 126 Freeway to the northbound 101 Freeway, head east on the 166 and take the 15 Freeway.

Bad weather in Southern California has forced all schools in at least six school districts to close Monday. Districts affected include:

  • Snowline Joint Unified School District
  • Rim of the World Unified School District
  • Victor Elementary School District
  • Victor Valley Union High School District
  • Apple Valley Unified School District
  • Lancaster School District
  • Palmdale School District

A winter storm warning was in effect and was to remain until 6 p.m. Monday for local mountains with 8 to 14 inches of snow expected above 4,000 feet and 4 to 8 inches above 2,500 feet. Winds were gusting to 45 miles per hour.

State Route 330 to Big Bear remains closed due to extensive damage from past storms. The 18, 173 and 138 are all open, but chains are required.

A winter storm warning was also in effect for the Antelope Valley where 3 to 6 inches of snow was expected Monday as low as 1,500 feet and 8 inches in the foothills. Those traveling on the 14 Freeway were warned of slick, dangerous conditions.

Monday morning, CHP units were escorting motorists along both directions of the 14 as the snow kept falling and continued to accumulate along the roadways.

Neighborhoods in Santa Clarita also saw snow Sunday, but rain was expected to roll through the area on Monday.

For the Los Angeles area, scattered showers were expected Monday with temps ranging from the mid 40s to the mid 50s. The rain was expected to taper off through the afternoon and clear up by Tuesday.

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