The last of the winter storms will be hitting Southern California this week, followed by a hopeful wave of warmer and drier weather. Over the course of the past couple of weeks, many cities, highways, establishments, and neighborhoods across the state have been put through the weather ringer – heavy rain storms, high speed winds, aggressive hail storms, heavy snowfall in mountainous areas, and even light snowfall in beach areas. 

According to the California Department of Transportation, the recent snow and ice conditions, specifically this past Wednesday, caused the closure of the I-5 Interstate going through the Grapevine. It is unclear when this highway will reopen, and many stalled trucks and other vehicles need to be cleared off the roads. The 395 Highway that allows skiers and snowboarders to travel to Mammoth Mountain was also closed this past week, but has fortunately reopened. 

Due to the extreme snowfall, homes in the San Bernardino Mountains were left enveloped in snow and residents trapped inside. Local crews have been working around the clock to clear roads left impassable, and help homeowners leave their houses – these conditions left at least one roof fully collapsed. Transportation crews from the CDT planned on escorting residents up the mountain’s highways to find a safer route, but were halted by the drivers continuously getting stuck in the snow. Residents in Lake Arrowhead, Crestline, and Running Springs are also left stranded in their homes from highway closures. 

Wind chill temperatures are expected to drop below freezing and hit around 32 degrees in Inland areas. A Cold Weather and Winter Storm alert was issued Tuesday by the National Weather Service as extreme weather conditions continue on. Meteorologist's estimated reason for the extreme winter storms is an atmospheric river coming in from the Pacific ocean, which is what caused heavy rain storms in parts of Southern California this past January. Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow and forceful currents of wet air that shoot across the ocean and cause heavy rain and snowfall over the lands it travels. 

Forecasts are calling for more rain in the month of March, but it’s also too early to say how the rest of the winter season will play out. UCLA Climate Scientist Daniel Swain states that 20% of the forecast models are displaying another atmospheric river storm that will hit California mid-March. This upcoming storm could cause an increase in flooding, densely packed snowfall, and cold rain. 

Drive careful and stay safe!