A fresh storm rolling into Southern California was bringing dangerous driving conditions to the Grapevine section of the 5 Freeway on Wednesday as Thanksgiving travel was picking up.

By 6 a.m., flurries had begun to fall along the roadway. Light snow is expected to continue in the area throughout the day, but forecasters say Thursday’s conditions will deteriorate, with snow levels dropping to 2,000 feet.

The storm is expected to dump up to 6 inches of snow along the Grapevine, with the bulk of it falling Thursday, according to Andrew Rorke, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

Heavy snow will likely close the mountain pass. So what’s the best way to avoid the Grapevine when weather interferes?

The California Department of Transportation suggests taking the 101 Freeway as an alternative to the 5.

Take the 101 — the route closer to the coast

For this storm, the 101 is generally the best of terrible alternatives when the Grapevine is closed by snow. Here’s a map made by the California Highway Patrol of this key alternative route:

santa clarita to bakersfield.pngBaker

Using U.S. 101 as a detour around the Grapevine section of Interstate 5. Map by the CHP.

(California Highway Patrol / Google Maps)

The 101 in California never gets too high in elevation and, therefore, generally doesn’t get the amount of snow that can force the closure of the Grapevine.

Travelers driving between the Bay Area and Los Angeles can take the 101 the entire way and avoid the 5 completely.

The other possible detour probably will get snow too

The other possible detour, through the Mojave Desert, may not work for this storm because the weather service is forecasting snow falling in the Antelope Valley foothills, with a chance “there could even be accumulating snow on the valley floor” even there.

This detour involves the 14 Freeway through the Mojave Desert and the Soledad Pass, at an elevation of 3,255 feet, and the 58 Freeway through the Tehachapi Pass, at an elevation of 3,793 feet. Forecasters have warned both routes may see snow.

How to avoid the Grapevine

Alternate route to the Grapevine through Highways 58 and 14 through the Mojave Desert.

(California Highway Patrol / Google Maps)

What kind of snow will the Grapevine see?

Grapevine snow forecast for Wednesday evening 2019 Thanksgiving

(National Weather Service )

Forecasters expect 3 to 6 inches of snow on the roadway through the Tejon Pass.

Snow levels are expected to fall as low as 2,000 feet. That’s well below the lowest point of the 5 as it winds through the Tejon Pass at an elevation of 4,144 feet. Meteorologists warn that snow-covered roads will lead to extremely difficult or nearly impossible travel.

What is the Grapevine?

The Grapevine is the name given to a section of one of California’s most important sections of the 5 Freeway, connecting the San Joaquin Valley to Los Angeles County. It’s a section of roadway that goes over one of the state’s greatest mountain ranges, the Transverse Ranges.

While most motorists believe the name Grapevine was inspired by the road’s many curves as it winds through the Tehachapi Mountains, it’s actually traced to the abundance of wild grapes that grew in this area that caused a Spanish army lieutenant two centuries ago to name a canyon in this area Cañada de las Uvas, or Grapevine Canyon, according to a Times story in 1993.





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