Reporter Gordon Tokumatsu and his crew have a challenge -- make it from one side of the Santa Clarita Valley to the other on a day when rain, snow and wind have closed major roads in the region.
Dec. 17, 2008, 4:32 p.m.
Just as I predicted, Sierra Highway was blocked just south of Vasquez Canyon -- which is exactly where we'd situated our satellite truck for our 5 and 6 p.m. remotes.
Made a command decision to cut our losses at that point. We popped a "U" and headed back down Sierra to Soledad Canyon and told our sat truck operator to break down and meet us there. This way, we can at least get on the air, even though there's no snow behind, above or near us (we can see some on the mountaintops not far away, but it'll be too dark by the time we go on the air).
At half an hour before the show starts, I've already walked through my video and sound requirements with writer Bill French and will be able to show viewers what the Antelope Valley looked like today, thanks to the efforts of a stringer photographer who captured it all earlier: Snow, snow and more snow!
And I promise not to use the clichés "white stuff"…or "winter wonderland." Not once. Cross my heart.
Dec. 17, 2008, 2:40 p.m.
Good news! We finally turned around at Lake Hughes Road (which is where the CHP roadblock is, for you road warriors) and are now heading south on I-5.
Warning: the backup on 5 northbound is easily five miles long, south of there, so if you need to head north toward Gorman/Bakersfield, make other plans!
Our next move: South to the 14, then north to Sierra Highway, which is where our satellite truck is setting down roots for our 5 and 6pm hits.
Unless, of course, snow closures block us AGAIN! It’s been that kind of a day.
Dec. 17, 2008, 1:40 p.m.
Finally en route with my second crew for the day. Because all of the roads are closed in and out of the Antelope Valley (including the 14 Freeway), we decided to head north on Interstate 5 to the Frazier Park overpass, where we can get a microwave signal back to Burbank for our live shot.
That's the good news.
The bad news: Interstate 5 just got shut down (!) I guess it's because of snow, but photographer Mark James and I didn't get the word until it was too late.
So we're now stuck in a classic Southern California "parking lot" traffic jam. Big-rigs and small-rigs (like us) are inching along northbound, presumably to Lake Castaic or thereabouts, to exit and turn around.
After that, we're hoping to head east and slightly north through Santa Clarita to pick up Sierra Highway, where we will likely face even more roadblocks, but at least there will be snow!
Unless there isn't. : (
Dec. 17, 2008, 1:16 p.m.
This bulletin moved a short time ago from LA County: "County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works is advising all motorist in the Antelope Valley and Santa Clarita area that an immediate closure of Sierra Highway between Avenue S (Antelope Valley) and Vasquez Canyon Road, and northbound Soledad Canyon Road at Lang Station in Santa Clarita is in effect."
We're going to try using our media credentials to get as far as we can, but this sounds like it might put the kibosh on some of our plans.
Dec. 17, 2008, 12:56 p.m.
It's snowing, sort of, in parts of Santa Clarita and Valencia. Tiny, solid pieces hitting my windshield -- no flurries -- but definitely more than just rain.
I’m here because this Starbucks at McBean Parkway was supposed to be the rendezvous point with my photographer, who had earlier met up with Robert Kovacik's morning crew to swap out file tape and interviews.
Problem: My photographer's "check engine" light has gone off, so he's now heading back to Burbank for maintenance, and I'm now alone.
Fortunately, the assignment desk has dispatched another truck to meet me here.
Just got off the phone with a stringer from On-Scene who's stranded off the 14 Freeway in Lancaster. He's got some great stuff for us -- LA Sheriff's deputies having a snowball fight, people making snow angels in about four inches of rare Antelope Valley precipitation.
But that's the good news. You see, he can't get to us: Road closures on the freeway up there, major surface streets, etc...
This means we can't get to him, either. Not yet, anyway.
The plan is to wait for my replacement crew, head up to Frazier Park with him, where we'll set up a live shot somewhere in the snow, then rely on one of our other photographers who happens to live in the Antelope Valley to meet up with the stranded stringer and feed his video back to be dropped into our piece... all in time for a live hit in the Channel Four News at 5 p.m.
Should go off without a hitch.