Interstate 5 closed by snow as new storm pounds Southern California

December 26, 2019 0 By JohnValbyNation

A new storm barreled into Southern California on Thursday morning, bringing snow that closed the 5 Freeway in the Grapevine and rain that flooded streets.

The storm also prompted a tornado warning for parts of the Santa Barbara County coast, which was hit by powerful winds as well as rain. The warning expired at 10:30 p.m., and there were no reports of damage. But the area saw about two inches of rain.

A tornado warning was issued at 12:05 a.m. Thursday for Orange County after a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado was located near Laguna Beach and Newport Beach, moving north at 35 mph. The tornado warning was canceled about 10 minutes later after the storm weakened.

In addition to the 5, the northbound 14 Freeway at Soledad Canyon Road and Highway 33 in Ventura County were also closed by snow. The 14 Freeway reopened at about 3:45 a.m.

The California Highway Patrol said there were multiple stuck vehicles on Interstate 5 at the Grapevine amid heavy snowfall around 10:30 p.m. “Priority will be to assist vehicles already on the pass to the other side, followed by clearing the roadway,” the agency tweeted.

At about 1:30 a.m., the CHP issued a SigAlert shutting down all southbound lanes of the 710 Freeway at Slauson Avenue due to flooding. The lanes reopened about two hours later.

Los Angeles Fire Department crews rescued a man from 3 to 6 feet of water in the Sepulveda Basin in Van Nuys, authorities said.

The 52-year-old man was located at about 2:15 a.m. and brought to safety and evaluated for potential hypothermia, according to spokeswoman Margaret Stewart.

An LAFD helicopter was searching the area to be sure no other people needed rescue, she said.

The National Weather Service is predicting 1 to 2 inches of rain along the coast and in the valleys, and up to 3 inches in the San Gabriel Mountains over the next several hours.

Certain mountain areas could get as much as 2 feet of snow, leaving the Mountain High and Mt. Baldy ski resorts primed for great conditions. This heavy dumping could lead to whiteout conditions because of blowing snow, the National Weather Service said. Similarly, the Antelope Valley could receive up to 8 inches of snow.

“There’s going to be gusty east to southeast winds between 20 and 30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph. That means there will be snow, blowing wind, fog and low visibility,” said Tom Fisher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

The weather service issued a winter storm watch for the mountains of San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego counties from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Friday, warning of heavy snow that could affect the Cajon Pass, Ortega Highway and the Interstate 8 pass in San Diego County. The weather service also warned of possible delays on the Grapevine, and highways 14 and 33 because of the snow.

Wednesday’s storm comes on the heels of a system that brought heavy rain — up to 3 inches in some areas in Southern California — on Sunday and Monday. That storm led to record-breaking rainfall in Long Beach, where 1.28 inches was dumped Monday. The previous record of 1.07 inches for the day was set in 2016, according to the weather service.

The downpour also made living conditions for migrants staying at a shelter close to the U.S.-Mexico border even more difficult Monday as flooding and foul sewage backups soiled the Movimiento Juventud 2000 shelter.

“The stench burns your nostrils and makes you want to puke,” said Antonio Jaramillo, a Mexican migrant who is in Tijuana after being deported from the United States. “I’m pretty sure this happens every time it rains with the black water.”

The latest round of rain could exacerbate problems at the shelter, which has roughly 100 migrants staying in tents erected in a large indoor space.

The rain in Southern California is expected to taper off Thursday, making way for clear skies through the weekend. But don’t stash the umbrellas yet, as forecasters say more rain looks to be on the way early next week.

San Diego Union-Tribune writer Wendy Fry contributed to this report, as did Times staff writer Rong-Gong Lin II. City News Service contributed to this report.