LOS ANGELES (AP) — The California Highway Patrol has reopened Interstate 5 in a mountain pass north of Los Angeles after a nearly 24-hour closure due to snow and ice that stranded many motorists.
CHP Officer Patrick Etchebarne says the vital route between Southern and Central California reopened shortly before noon Monday, with motorists being escorted over the Tejon Pass in groups of about 500 vehicles.
The pass was shut down about 12:30 p.m. Sunday as a cold storm dropped snow to very low elevations in the region and made travel treacherous.
Freeways in the Antelope Valley, the populous high desert area north of Los Angeles, also were icy and a winter storm warning was posted.
Classes were canceled for many schools in the high desert and in the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountain ranges.
On Sunday night, motorists heading back from Las Vegas to Los Angeles spent hours on Interstate 15 crawling over snowy Cajon Pass about 65 miles east of Los Angeles. Repeated accidents dogged the icy drive over the nearly 3,800-foot pass early Monday.
The National Weather Service said snow was falling to elevations as low as 1,500 feet. On Sunday, suburban Santa Clarita just north of Los Angeles got a rare snowfall.
Light showers and breezy weather were expected in the Los Angeles area through Monday, with chilly temperatures the rule.
“It might squeak up to 60,” said Bonnie Bartling, a National Weather Service forecaster. “Not exactly your Southern California weather that you like.”
Dry weather and warmer temperatures could arrive by Thursday, she said.
In the southern San Joaquin Valley, flood watches were canceled as widespread rains began to taper off before dawn Monday.
The bad early January weather comes on the heels of a stormy December that brought heavy rains and snow to California, causing millions of dollars in damage to several communities. States of emergency were declared in 13 counties last month.
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