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Storm leads to multiple freeway closures in Southern California

east county snow
julian snow
Posted at 10:05 AM, Dec 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-26 20:52:28-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- A winter storm wreaked havoc Thursday, drenching San Diego with rain and snow and forcing the closure of Interstate 8 in East County, I-15 in the Cajon Pass, and I-5 in the Grapevine.

Snow and ice forced the California Highway Patrol to close a 50-mile stretch of I-8 in both directions between Imperial Highway (SR-98) in Ocotillo and SR-79 about 8:15 a.m. Multiple cars were stuck in the area, said CHP Officer Jim Bettencourt. U.S. Border Patrol officials assisted the CHP in closing side roads to protect travelers.

The freeway reopened about 11:30 a.m. The closure was one of several affecting travelers in Southern California.

Watch Sky10 coverage above East County:

RELATED: Check traffic in your area

Farther north, the California Highway Patrol shut down Interstate 5 through the Grapevine north of Los Angeles Wednesday night due to multiple stuck vehicles and heavy snowfall. There was no immediate plan to open the busy mountain thoroughfare connecting Southern California to the Central Valley. Caltrans suggested a detour of Highways 58 and 14, but added that snow was also falling in the area.

A driver was found dead inside a parked big rig in the Grapevine, KABC reported. The person's cause of death was not immediately known.

Interstate 15 was also affected through the Cajon Pass, a popular route to Las Vegas. Caltrans shut down the freeway in both directions early Thursday morning due to snow. Southbound I-15 was also closed between Baker and Primm because of the weather.

San Diego County's mountains also received heavy snow with accumulations of 4 to 8 inches expected between 3,500 and 4,500 feet with 12 to 18 inches expected between 4,500 and 5,500 feet and 18 to 24 inches forecast above 5,500 feet.

At lower elevations, parts of San Diego County could see as much as two inches of rain through Friday, according to the National Weather Service. The agency says rain accumulations along much of the coast will total 1.5 to 2 inches.

The storm led to safety concerns in the region. In National City, a tree uprooted in the front yard of a home and fell on cars. No one was hurt. Lifeguards also rescued drivers stranded in flood waters.

RELATED: Check today's San Diego County forecast

The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm warning early Christmas morning. The warning went into effect at 4 a.m. Thursday and lasts through 6 a.m. Friday.

A wind advisory has been issued for San Diego County coastal areas from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday. The latest winter storm to hit the region is expected to carry with it winds between 15 and 25 miles per hour with gusts up to 40 miles per hour.

See an interactive map of freeway closures:

City News Service contributed to this report.