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Second storm front on its way to Southern California

March 21, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A powerful storm left Southern California after pounding the region with snow, hail and rain, but another storm front is on its way.

Another weather system was expected to hit the Southland, bringing more rain and high winds starting Wednesday and lasting until Friday with a possible clearing on Saturday and Sunday.

The coming storm may also bring up to 4 to 8 inches of fresh snow to local mountains under 5,000 feet.

Conditions in Gorman were still wet with lots of snow Monday night.

The Grapevine section of I-5 reopened with police escorts earlier Monday after conditions improved along the once icy roadways.

California Highway Patrol officials closed both lanes of the freeway from Lake Hughes Road in Castaic to the Kern County line Sunday evening due to black ice and snow. The pass was closed for nearly 14 hours.

Hundreds of motorists were left stranded after the closure and many resorted to sleeping in their cars as they waited for the freeway to reopen.

Gaylin Heitzig and her daughter stretched out in the back of their vehicle with blankets and their dogs to keep them warm.

"We slept, we tried to stay warm, thank God we had our dogs," Heitzig said. "It was crazy. There are a lot of people who aren't as fortunate as us. We have a bigger car and we have two blankets and a dog."

Sven Johnson was stranded since 7 p.m. Sunday. He was heading to Oregon and said he was expecting to be a little closer to home Monday morning.

"Family is waiting for you and not able to get through, so it's frustrating, but I understand also safety concerns and safety reasons for keeping us here, but yeah, it's frustrating," Johnson said.

Some people attempted to take the alternate route around the Grapevine, driving east along the California 58 to the 14 Freeway only to hit snow in Tehachapi.

In Frazier Park, heavy snow caused major problems for drivers. The snow and ice also made for slick roads, and some cars even got stuck in the snow.

A church group made up of 85 people was snowed in while trying to camp out about six miles from Frazier Park.

With all the snow, they were unable to leave back to Lancaster. The Kern County Sheriff's Department had to send a snow vehicle to help get them out.

They had no power at their campground, but were able to light a fire to stay warm.

Pacific Coast Highway was closed to all westbound traffic at Topanga Canyon Boulevard due to numerous rock slides along the highway. All lanes of the PCH have since been reopened.

The heavy rain was also too much for Topanga Canyon Boulevard. It flooded when a creek overflowed its banks, trapping at least six cars and trucks, including a Los Angeles County fire vehicle in a foot of water and mud. The road has since reopened.

The eastbound lanes of Big Tujunga Canyon Road at Mount Gleason Avenue were open only to residents.