Local News

Thursday, Jan 10 2013 06:33 PM

Grapevine closed by snow and ice; cold front hits Southern California

By STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

During what a Pine Mountain Club resident called one of the biggest storms of the season so far, the California Highway Patrol shut down Interstate 5 through the Grapevine late Thursday afternoon because of snow.

And the Grapevine may be impacted through the early morning, according to a National Weather Service meteorologist.

The closure was the second of the day. I-5 through the Grapevine was closed Thursday morning, also because of snow and ice.

It was all part of a cold front from Canada that settled in Southern and Central California on Thursday, bringing snow flurries and low temperatures that forecasters said should stick around for days.

The front also brought strong winds and scattered rain showers; snow levels were predicted to drop as low as 2,000 feet.

National Weather Service meteorologist Daniel Harty said there's a good chance snow showers and icy conditions will keep the Grapevine closed through the evening and potentially into Friday morning.

For example, there was a 50 percent chance of snow in Frazier Park mainly before 10 p.m. along with blustery winds around 25 mph. There was a 20 percent chance of snow Friday before 10 a.m. and after that sunny skies.

Higher up in Pine Mountain Club, resident Bob Saberhagen -- living at about 5,200 feet -- said it was snowing heavily and the winds made it blizzard-like at about 5:45 p.m. Thursday.

He said about six inches of snow had fallen there since about 1 p.m. He said it rivaled the biggest storm of the year so far.

He said the roads were passable but that the amount of snow falling made driving "treacherous."

"A lot of people are going to be staying at motels," Saberhagen said.

In the Kern County mountains and foothills of the southern Sierra, a winter weather advisory for areas above 2000 feet was in effect until 4 a.m. Friday, though accumulation at those lower levels was expected to be limited.

Snow amounts were expected from trace near 1,500 feet, about two inches above 2000 feet and two to three inches above 4,000 feet. Locations included Tehachapi and Lake Isabella.

Strong winds were expected to drop wind chills above 3000 feet to the single digits through Friday morning.

Travel was to be hazardous on Highways 58 and 178 and I-5.

Beyond that, a freeze warning was in effect from 4 a.m. Friday to 10 a.m. Monday for the central and southern San Joaquin Valley, with minimum temperatures of 26 to 28 degrees possibly hitting for one to four hours in the coldest areas before daybreak Friday.

Low temperatures of 28 degrees and even lower will last longer and be more widespread Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights in some places, the National Weather Service warned.

Temps could bottom out in the mid to upper teens for a couple hours this weekend, the worst times being between 2 a.m. and 9 a.m. Areas in Kern County potentially affected include Delano, Wasco and Buttonwillow.

Coastal areas of Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties could see strong winds, high water levels and the first king tides of the year through Saturday.

The National Weather Service issued a coastal flood advisory for the beaches, with high tides expected to reach more than 7 feet in some areas. Tides are expected to peak on Friday morning, with west-facing beaches hit the hardest.

"We expect that the tides are going to be almost the highest that we are going to expect in 2013," said Robert Balfour, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service in San Diego.

Coastal residents and businesses could see king tides through Saturday, which occur when the "gravitational pull of the sun and the moon are in alignment," according to the California King Tides Initiative.

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