Millions head home on the busiest travel day of the season

Parts of California were hit with up to 2 feet of snow coupled with strong winds while other areas were pummeled with torrential rain.
3:25 | 12/27/19

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Transcript for Millions head home on the busiest travel day of the season
And we begin tonight with the deadly winter slam the day after Christmas, one of the busiest travel days of the year. The powerful system striking millions across the southwest, dumping so much snow in the mountains, look at that, that authorities closed I-5 north of Los Angeles. Some drivers stranded for up to seven hours. At lower elevations, a Dell luge. Heavy rains, high winds and a flash flood threat. Water rescues reported in several southern California and there are winter watches and warnings across 12 states tonight. And that system is moving east. More on the forecast with rob in a moment. But we start with ABC's will Carr along a stretch of I-5 in southern California. Reporter: Tonight, snow snarling traffic in the golden state, with millions trying to drive home on the busiest travel day of the holiday season. Looks like a car spun out. Reporter: Just outside of los Angeles, a one-two punch. Up to two feet of snow in some places, coupled with strong winds. With low visibility, authorities shut down the part of I-5 known as the grapevine and part of I-15, trapping drivers in whiteout conditions. I never imagined this would happen, but yeah, look around. This is -- this is us. Reporter: Johnny Lim was stuck for eight hours before help finally arrived to get him out. Some stranded in the snow overnight, including a truck driver found dead this morning in his rig. The cause of death now under investigation. At lower elevations, torrential rain. It's pretty bad out there, windshield wipers full blast, Reporter: Leaving cars swimming through intersections. One stranded, pushed out by a police cruiser. The L.A. Fire department rescuing a 52-year-old man from six feet of cold water overnight. We have victim back to the shoreline. Reporter: Racing him to get checked out for hypothermia. In San Diego, more water rescues and massive trees crashing into cars and homes. One man killed by a huge falling redwood in northern California. All right, will Carr joins us now from along the I-5. That freeway shut down for hours. Will, what are officials telling you about the conditions out there? Reporter: Well, Tom, snow is still blanketing the mountainside behind me and it's not often that you can stand in the middle of I-5. This is a major thoroughfare here in Los Angeles county. You can see cph is turning all of these drivers around and at this point, we don't know when the interstate will reopen, as the storm moves through the midwest, with more of those blizzard conditions. Tom? Will Carr on that developing story tonight. Will, thank you. And this deadly storm system is far from done. Sweeping toward the midwest this evening. ABC's senior meteorologist rob Marciano has the latest. Rob, good evening. Reporter: Good evening, Tom. This is a compact and powerful storm that will be expanding across the country. It's going coast to coast. Already, check it out, winter storm alerts from Minnesota all the way back through southern California where the center of that low still sits. It's pushing heavy precip and wind into Vegas and Phoenix tonight. The heavy knows will get into the San juans of Colorado tomorrow. Tomorrow night, snows in Denver. But the heavier snows will be in the central and northern plains. If you are flying through Minneapolis, could see snow delays there on Saturday. Rain delays in Chicago Saturday, because that's the warm sector. Record highs there again. And that will spawn severe storms across the mid south Saturday and Sunday, with the whole mess getting to the east coast by Monday. Tom? All right, rob, thank you for that.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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