A fresh storm rolling into Southern California is bringing dangerous driving conditions to the Grapevine section of the 5 Freeway as Thanksgiving travel picks up.
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:
Because the 101 in California never gets too high in elevation, it generally doesn’t get the amount of snow that could force a road closure.
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, is not advised 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.”
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.
What kind of snow will the Grapevine see?
Forecasters expect 3 to 6 inches of snow on the 5 through the Tejon Pass.
With snow levels falling to 2,000 feet, 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, traversing the Transverse Ranges to connect the San Joaquin Valley to Los Angeles County.
Though many motorists believe the name 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 the area. That caused a Spanish army lieutenant two centuries ago to name a canyon in the area Cañada de las Uvas, or Grapevine Canyon, according to a Times story in 1993.