Authorities reopened Interstate 5 through the Grapevine in California in both directions early Thursday afternoon, ending a closure forced by heavy snow as a second powerful winter storm moved into Southern California on Thanksgiving Day.
California Highway Patrol officers began escorting traffic along the southbound lanes around 1:30 p.m. and reopened the freeway to northbound traffic at 2:55 p.m. Traffic is free flowing, though one lane in each direction remains closed, the CHP said.
Showers and possible thunderstorms were on tap for the Southern California, with rain and snow continuing in Northern California.
The National Weather Service issued flood warnings and advisories for parts of Southern California through Thursday afternoon. Intense downpours of up to half an inch an hour threatened to cause road flooding and mudflows in recent wildfire burn areas, including the hillsides where the Getty fire burned a month ago in Brentwood on the west side of Los Angeles.
Snow fell in Lancaster and other parts of the Antelope Valley and mountain communities, and helped firefighters battling the Cave fire in Santa Barbara County that threatened homes earlier in the week.
The holiday's chilly and gray conditions may seem magnified because they are such a sudden departure from earlier in the month, said climatologist Bill Patzert.
"It was weather whiplash -- an abrupt change from hot and dry to unusually frigid. Like 0 to 60 in a Tesla," Patzert quipped.
Interstate 5 through the Tejon Pass was closed around 4 a.m., with the California Department of Transportation urging motorists to use Highway 101 instead. Because the 101 is at a lower elevation, it generally doesn't get enough snow to force a closure.
"We're still plowing and working," said said Eric Menjivar, a spokesman for Caltrans. "It's all hands on deck right now. We're just trying to assist the CHP with whatever they need and also plow the road at the same time so that hopefully we can get it open for everyone to get home in time for Thanksgiving dinner."
Up to 6 inches of snow was forecast for the pass. Snow levels were expected to plunge below 2,000 feet.