Weather in the Foothills

“There is nothing in the world more beautiful than the forest clothed to its very hollows in snow. It is the still ecstasy of nature, wherein every spray, every blade of grass, every spire of reed, every intricacy of twig, is clad with radiance.”

~ William Sharp, Scottish writer, 18550-1905


Happy New Year!

Winter and Christmas arrived with the appropriate weather for the season as below normal temperatures settled in. Late Christmas night, one last gift arrived … snow and not just a few snowflakes! The mountains were deeply covered; the snow extended to Deukmejian Wilderness Park. Snow in our local mountains is not unheard of, but its timely arrival made it extra special.

Snowfall is relatively unusual on the coastal lowlands of Southern California. Due to the proximity of the Pacific Ocean, freezing temperatures are a rarity. It takes the collision of moist marine air with an “extreme excursion of the Polar Jet Stream” to drop temperatures below freezing thus allowing snowfall in greater Los Angeles. But it happened…

On Jan. 15, 1932, the LA Times described LA’s weather as “a genuine, old-fashioned Midwest snow flurry.” National headlines were made as several inches fell downtown. Close by in Pasadena, Albert Einstein, a visiting professor at Caltech, bemoaned the weather, claiming he “left Germany for sunshine.” A riot broke out in front of Pasadena Junior College when students left classrooms to “play in the snow.”

Snowballs flew across Colorado Boulevard, cracking windshields, smashing streetlamps and bombarding onlookers. Four police officers attempted to disperse the crowd but the students surrounded them, let the air out of their patrol cars’ tires, and pelted the officers with rock-filled snowballs. After 30 more police officers arrived – armed with nightsticks and tear-gas – the rabble rousers were calmed. Seven rioters were jailed and two bystanders hospitalized. Baffled faculty reported, “Our students are usually so well behaved.”

Fortunately, snow was not predicted for yesterday, Jan. 1! Clear skies, warmer temperatures and windy conditions are predicted for the first weather forecast of 2020. A perfect beginning for a new year!

Sue Kilpatrick is a Crescenta Valley resident and Official Skywarn Spotter
for the National Weather Service.
Reach her at