Update: The CHP has reopened the 5 in both directions, but beware: The drive is still pretty slow-going. Hang in there, guys.
What a depressing way to start a brand-new year of the infamous Los Angeles commute.
All those holiday stragglers who waited until Sunday night to drive home — hoping to avoid the mass SoCal exodus/influx, not realizing it was really this zany weather they should be worrying about — got an unpleasant surprise upon nearing the Grapevine.
Just after midnight this morning, gusts of low-lying snow and icy pavement prompted California Highway Patrol officers to block off all lanes of the I-5 freeway between Castaic southbound and the Kern County Line heading north.
And drivers will be camped out in their cars for a few more hours yet:
KNX news radio is reporting that weather conditions haven't even begun to improve on the mountain overpass; CHP officers will stand their ground as the sky unleashes more snow as low as 1,500 feet and Caltrans workers do their best to de-ice the roadway.
A long line of cars and trucks can be seen branching out in every direction from I-5 on-ramps near the closure.
The extreme rain, snow and coldness should wear off by this afternoon or evening, but that's not soon enough for thousands of frustrated commuters. KNX reporters talked to a family returning home from winter break who's been there 13 hours; businesspeople on the way to work and truckers on a tight schedule are likewise getting antsy, to say the least.
“A lot of us truckers are on deadline …. so it's going to throw it all out of whack,” one says.
Possible detours include the 14 — which is still windy and slippery, so beware — and the 101, a way longer drive but much safer.
A couple stuck-civilian Tweets from the wee hours:
Remember guys: When all else fails, blame the “Transportation Department.”