Grapevine closes again Saturday due to snowfall, dangerous driving conditions

The Interstate 5 Freeway was closed through the Grapevine Saturday due to snowfall. 

Northbound lanes of the Grapevine closed at Parker Road in Castaic. Southbound lanes were closed in Lebec. Traffic was backed up for miles south in the morning. 

The heavily traveled freeway remained closed until just before 5:30 p.m. when California Highway Patrol officers began escorting motorists through the area.

CHP officials warned, however, that the road was “still very wet.”

“Do not attempt to pass the CHP officers conducting the escorts,” the agency warned on Twitter. “The weather conditions are expected to last through the night so please travel safe.”

However, by 11:12 p.m., the CHP said they were preparing to close the Grapevine again as the snow was starting to stick to the road, causing dangerous driving conditions. 

A California Highway Patrol officer said that drivers should avoid the area until at least Saturday night. 

The Grapevine remained closed Friday afternoon. Drivers are being turned around and diverted into southbound lanes at a roadblock in Castaic.

Even big trucks were reportedly getting stuck at the top in Lebec, where a foot of snow was reported in some areas.

“It’s pretty treacherous conditions up north. There’s a lot of snow, a lot of ice, and the visibility’s pretty low up there,” said CHP Newhall Officer Joshua Greengard.  “Right now we have heavy rain in the Castaic area, and it’s just a little bit difficult for motorists to try to get through there right now.”

The CHP recommends taking the 101 Freeway if drivers must get north or south — if postponing travel is not an option.

Closures began about 1:30 a.m. Friday. CHP officers had been escorting vehicles prior to all lanes closing.

The Grapevine, the commonly referenced 40-mile stretch of the I-5 Freeway from northern Los Angeles County to Kern County, is often affected by winter storms when wet weather begins to fall and creates dangerous driving conditions. 

Many times in the past, California Highway Patrol officers have resorted to escorting vehicles through the pass when winter storms hit the area.

“We normally do escorts before we shut the Grapevine down,” said Officer D.C. Williams. “So if things start not looking too good, we’ll start bringing traffic in at a certain pace to have a lot of cars coming up and over to keep the road surface warm.”

This incoming storm appears to be no exception to that standard, with many drivers already preparing to take the necessary steps for safety, even if it means switching up their normal work habits. 

“I’m going to deliver and then I’m going to do everything I can to continue working on that side of the hill,” said Jon Barajas, a semi truck driver who said this wouldn’t be the first time he got stuck on the road due to weather.

The severity of the looming storm is predicted to be so significant that many major freeways could be shut down, including the Cajon Pass, the 14 Freeway and many other roads that connect Southern California to the north. 

Another truck driver preparing for the storm, Ray Briones said that since his job requires him to drive up and down the Golden State, he’s working to reroute from the usual path. 

“I gotta rethink, I gotta think my travel and go around it all,” he said. “But, I’m not the only one thinking that, so that’s gonna be congested to.”

Related: Storm causing traffic on your commute? Use NEXT Traffic to plan your way to work or home.

Thus far, California Department of Transportation officials are advising as many people as possible to stay off the roads and avoid leaving home if they can. For those who do have to venture out, they recommend bearing with the traffic on their preferred routes, as any detours could prove to be more treacherous for drivers. 

 Caltrans spokesperson Alisa Almanzan offers safety tips for drivers:

  • Limit non-essential travel, delay trips if possible
  • Plan for potential closures, scope out alternate routes
  • Monitor conditions, anticipate flooding
  • Watch out for workers and maintenance crews on roadways
  • Check your vehicle’s brakes, wipers, tires,
  • Fill your gas tank
  • Carry tire chains
  • Carry food, water, chargers, extra clothing/blankets

To help keep the roads ice-free, CalTrans applied brine and saltwater solution along the I-5 through the Tejon Pass on Wednesday night. 

Check road conditions across California with the Caltrans QuickMap here.

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