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Foul weather shuts schools, major highways

January 2, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
The first storm of the year is hitting Southern California with rain and even snow, forcing the closures of schools and major highways.The Grapevine stretch of Interstate 5 was closed off in both directions as snow and ice made for treacherous driving conditions.

California Highway Patrol officers said that portion of the I-5 was closed indefinitely around 1 p.m. as cars began sliding across lanes. No major crashes were reported.

Dangerous driving conditions in the Cajon Pass also caused that stretch to be closed in both directions.

The CHP escorted vehicles earlier Sunday after snow and rain turned Interstate 15 into a wet and icy highway.

In the Newhall Pass, black ice triggered several accidents as well.

Snow was hitting the 14 Freeway in Antelope Valley and Santa Clarita. As much as 2 to 4 inches of snow was expected for the Palmdale area with the bulk falling overnight.

A winter storm warning was in effect for the local mountains, with 8 to 14 inches of snow expected above 4,000 feet and 4 to 8 inches above 3,000 feet. Winds were gusting to 90 miles per hour.

The cold system made its way down to the Southland from Northern and Central California and may bring up to 1 inch of rain Sunday into Monday morning with temperatures peaking at a chilly 56 degrees for the Los Angeles area.

Bad weather in Southern California has forced all schools in at least six school districts to close Monday. Districts affected include:

  • Snowline Joint Unified School District
  • Rim of the World Unified School District
  • Victor Elementary School District
  • Apple Valley Unified School District
  • Lancaster School District
  • Palmdale School District
Other school districts recommend parents or guardians check in with them Monday morning for updated information about possible closures.

In the Inland Empire early Sunday, the threat of rain loomed over the hard-hit city of Highland where residents are furiously cleaning up the mud left behind by recent storms.

Residents joined by relatives and volunteers spent New Year's Day shoveling pounds of mud and hauling it out of homes.

Some sifted through mud-encrusted possessions, looking for what can be salvaged.

"It's kind of heartbreaking. It makes me want to cry but I already had my meltdown so now it's time to work," said Highland resident Monica Mortan.

"I had like 5 feet of mud inside my house and we had to take down all the walls you know and start from scratch," said another Highland resident Louie Barrera.

Residents said they're not as worried about the rain as they are about getting their lives back in order.