California was going from cold to colder today, as a chill expected to bring the biggest mercury dips in years descended on much of the state. The Grapevine section of Interstate 5, the key artery linking southern and northern California, was shut down last night, thanks to a heavy snowfall that showed no immediate signs of stopping, leaving truckers and would-be travelers stranded. The day also saw several accidents and spinouts on the mountain pass that led to a pair of closures, the second of which continued into the night.
Elsewhere, strawberry growers covered their crops while San Diego zookeepers turned on heaters for the chimpanzees. Forecasters warned that a low pressure trough could keep nightly temperatures below freezing, threatening orange, avocado orchards, and other sensitive plants. Farmers were prepared to pull out giant fans to circulate the air and keep it from settling on their citrus trees. Nor is cold the only weather challenge facing Southern California. Forecasters say a combination of high tides, high surf, and strong winds will bring minor flooding to low-lying areas of the Southern California coast.