Hail was reported in areas across the Southland Friday amid winter storm warnings for Southern California that included snow levels as low as 3,000 feet and the closure of the Grapevine.
The 5 Freeway was closed in both directions from Parker Road to the Kern County line at about 4 p.m., according to the California Highway Patrol, which reported heavy snow.
As of 9:30 p.m., police escorts were leading drivers off the road. There were about 500 cars waiting in either direction, according to CHP. Moving the drivers off the thoroughfare could take up to two hours, officials said, at which point CHP will reevaluate whether to reopen the Grapevine Friday night.
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The Grapevine was still shut down as of 11 p.m.
The CHP reported 20 to 30 vehicles involved in separate but related crashes on the northbound 5 Freeway just north of Gorman School Road at about 4:30 p.m., as seen in the picture below. Four people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, officials said.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department responded, a spokesman said.
Stranding drivers for some two hours Friday, the closure of the main route between Los Angeles and the Central Valley came after Southern California experienced scattered hail and snow Friday. More precipitation was expected.
"It still looks like we are going to be dealing with some heavy amounts of snow in and around the 4,000-foot level. That’s where we have winter storm warnings in effect," said NBC4 forecaster Elita Loresca. "Down in the 3,000-foot level is where we have winter weather advisories."
Hail also was reported in the Brea area of Orange County at 10 a.m. Friday, and then seen elsewhere later in the day, including in Redondo Beach and at NBC4's Burbank studios.
The Southland will continue to see cold and windy conditions Friday, and winter weather advisories and winter storm warnings are in effect at least until Saturday morning, Loresca said.
In anticipation of snowstorms in the northeast region of the United States, LAX officials reported that five airlines have cancelled 63 arriving and departing flights to the following airports: New York (JFK), Newark, N.J., (EWR) and Boston (BOS).
Passengers flying to that region have been advised to check with their airlines to confirm any flights before heading to the airport.
More widespread showers will occur through Friday evening, and residents above elevations at 4,000 feet can expect 6 to 10 inches of snow, Loresca said.
Cold temperatures are expected to continue through the weekend, and dry conditions will return as temperatures warm into the low- to mid-60s by early next week.