Snowy weather brought Easter Sunday traffic to a standstill in the north state.
Just before 5 p.m., the California Department of Transportation closed northbound Interstate 5 to all traffic at the Fawndale exit 10 miles north of Redding.
Several cars and trucks had spun out to the north near Dunsmuir and were blocking the highway, said Caltrans spokesman Michael Mayor.
Officials had no idea when the road would open up again. Winds howled throughout the day, and more than a foot of snow had fallen in the Mount Shasta area.
“It’s been nasty,” said Jerilyn Holland, who works at the Lake Street Station minimart and gas station in Mount Shasta. “People have been coming in all day. I actually was hoping they’d close it (the freeway).”
Southbound traffic was still moving on I-5 this evening through the snow, but all commercial vehicles and those towing trailers were required to have on chains to pass through the snow. Cars and pickups needed to have either snow tires or chains.
Even so, an ambulance was sent to at least one rollover wreck reported in the southbound lanes at 5:20 p.m. when a car flipped near the O’Brien exit near Lakehead.
At least three people — a 48-year-old woman and her 18- and 12-year-old daughters — suffered minor injures, according to preliminary dispatch reports.
I-5 was a mess even in the lower elevations.
On her way to the Sacramento International Airport to fly home, Susanne Baremore, 41, of Denver was at a standstill in south Redding for about 10 minutes this evening waiting for a wreck to clear from the southbound lanes.
The 5:15 p.m. collision reportedly involved a big rig and two other cars. No one was hurt.
“It’s just raining sheets right now,” she said on her cell phone from the passenger seat of a car driven by Michael Cates of Turlock. “We can’t hardly see. Cars are hydroplaning all over.”
Other roads fared just as badly Sunday evening.
Chains were required on all vehicles but four-wheel drives with snow tires on Highway 299 over the Buckhorn Summit, through several miles west of Weaverville.
Highway 89 in Siskiyou County was under the same chain control restrictions, as was Highway 44 in the higher elevations.
Farther west, a boulder rolled onto Highway 299 near the border with Trinity and Humboldt counties, closing both directions of traffic, said California Highway Patrol spokesman Jason Dotzenrod.
The roads were not quite as messy earlier in the day, but it was still bad, particularly in the Mount Shasta area.
The CHP reported spinouts all day on I-5 and 89, and Caltrans traffic cameras showed both roadways covered in snow.
But, just because the roads were miserable, the poor weather didn’t mean to a completely dismal Easter for at least a few north state families.
Elmer Ellsworth, president of the Shasta Lake Lions Club, said his group’s Easter egg hunt at Clair Engle Park went off without a hitch.
“We had a great hunt,” he said “The weather was good to us. The rain didn’t start until we were all done. It was cold out there, but it turned out great. The kids had fun.”
For Monday, the National Weather Service predicts more of the same poor weather, minus the gusty winds from Sunday.
The weather is expected to get more spring-like by Tuesday.
Reporter Ryan Sabalow can be reached at 225-8344 or at email@example.com.
Posted on Sunday April 4, 2010 by Robert D