Two major Southern California highways reopened Monday after ice and blowing snow forced closures that stranded hundreds of motorists, including some who spent a frigid night in their vehicles.
Traffic started moving again around 11 a.m. in northbound lanes of Interstate 5 at the Grapevine, a high pass along the key route between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the California Highway Patrol said. The southbound side was reopened a few hours earlier but officials warned that icy conditions persisted.
Some drivers were able to pull off the highway Sunday evening, but local motels quickly reached capacity. People waited at gas stations and rest stops, and slept in their cars.
Kay Bailey ended up stranded on the south side of the closure after she and her three children drove from Bakersfield to Thousand Oaks for a gymnastics event. A pit stop for lunch Sunday afternoon cost them valuable time and by the time they got back on the road, the highway was closed.
“As soon as we got off the exit we started sliding,” Bailey told KABC-TV . “So we’re stuck in the car.”
It was the first time her three children — ages 12, 9 and 7 — saw snow, so they did have some fun during their wait.
To the east, Interstate 15 was open again at the Nevada state line after it was closed due to multiple weather-related accidents on the main route between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Holiday travelers are warned to carry chains on routes to local ski resorts after mountain areas east of Los Angeles got more than 10 inches (25 centimeters) of snow from the latest in a string of winter storms.
Skies were clearing but colder-than-normal weather is expected for the next several days across the region. Los Angeles County health officials extended a cold weather alert, warning of below-freezing temperatures in valley and mountain communities for much of the week.