Let It Snow, Let It Rain, Let It Snow

Photo by Mark SHELTON


Just as we were getting used to the rain—it started to snow. Over the weekend many throughout Southern California were surprised, and delighted, to see beautiful, huge flakes of snow falling from the sky without the help of Hollywood special effects.

Some may have remembered the snow “storm” in 1989 in Los Angeles and Ventura counties that had surfers taking photos of snow on Malibu beaches but Saturday’s snow seemed to be something for the record books.

“The [Angeles] Crest was  closed due to mud and rock slides,” said California Highway Patrol Officer Jonathan Boyd.

That was due to the rain that preceded the snow, then with the snowfall the roads remained closed and more closures were added.

As of Wednesday Angeles Crest Highway SR 2 was closed from Islip Saddle to 2.6 miles west of Big Pine, and from the LA/San Bernardino County line to the Junction of SR 138 due to snow. Chains are required on many roads as well and conditions change quickly. To get information on roads go to roads.dot.ca.gov or call (800) 427-7623.

“A lot of the major roads [in the Angeles National Forest] were closed over the weekend,” said Dana Dierkes, Angele National Forest spokesperson.

Over the weekend Montrose Search and Rescue (MSAR) had one activation to the Mount Wilson area, when one of the facility managers at the top asked for assistance because water was flooding an area that had sensitive electrical equipment, said Sgt. John Gilbert, LA Sheriff’s Dept. MSAR coordinator.

“We responded along with LA County Fire. The road conditions were so poor, none of us were able to make it up there. The snow was too deep. Thankfully the issue began to resolve itself and the response was canceled,” Gilbert added.

Three homes in La Cañada Flintridge were severely affected by the rainy weather on Sunday with a mudslide.

LA County Fire Station 82 responded to the 460 block of Paulette Place, along with deputies from the CV Sheriff Station.

“Shortly after 4 p.m. [on Sunday], firefighters responded to the area of Paulette Place and Paradise Canyon Lane in the City of La Cañada Flintridge for a reported mud/debris flow incident. Upon arrival, firefighters found that the hillside behind two residences on Paulette Place gave way resulting in mud and debris flow into the rear of two homes, significantly damaging one residence. The home at the top of the hillside on Noren Street was undamaged. This incident likely occurred sometime between early Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon when the residents returned home and called 911,” said Maria Grycan, LACoFD spokeswoman.

La Cañada Flintridge Building and Safety responded and yellow-tagged two residences on Paulette Place. The residence on Noren was not tagged, said Susan Koleda, director of community development at the City of La Cañada Flintridge.

Koleda explained that yellow tagging means that part of the house has been deemed uninhabitable, but not all of the house had been determined unsafe.

The weekend rainfall  and snowfall totals were impressive. According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), from Thursday through Sunday La Cañada Flintridge recorded 9.29 inches of rain, Pasadena had 8.11 inches and Eagle Rock Reservoir had 8.14. La Crescenta saw 2 inches of snow in the 2000 to 1500 foot elevation, Mt. Wilson saw 40 inches of snow, and the highest snowfall in the area was at Mountain High with 93 inches of snow.

There was a small window of drying out on Sunday, then Monday night through Wednesday there was more rain with La Cañada Flintridge recording 2.32 inches. There was snow as well in the area but it melted quickly.

The rest of the week, according to NOAA, should be dryer through the weekend but another storm may be making its way toward Southern California by early next week.

Last night through this morning the National Weather Service has issued a Frost Advisory, as it is going to be cold with wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour.  The Advisory is from last night at 10 p.m. to 10 a.m. today.

Gilbert wants to remind those who may want to travel up the Crest or take a winter hike that conditions are constantly changing.

“The conditions have been so tough that rescues cannot be guaranteed. We normally do not have these issues since our weather is favorable for our response or a helicopter extraction. As of late, helicopters are not able to go through the clouds and our ground travel is extremely delayed,” Gilbert said.

And for those  who are not going to the mountains but just driving on the roadways and highways during the rain storms CHP reminds drivers to just slow down.

“When it comes to conditions like [the recent rainfall] people may or may not know how water builds up on the freeway creating [puddles] that build especially on elevated runways and walls,” Boyd said.

He added that carpool lanes along with lanes one and four on the freeways can be dangerous as water pools form there that are not seen until the vehicle’s tires go into the water.

Boyd said CHP receives numerous  calls concerning spin-outs due to drivers losing control in these kinds of conditions.

In addition to the rain and snow there has been a lot of fog. Boyd reminds drivers to keep their headlights on low beams and not to stop on the roadway unless it is an emergency.

“Try not to drive through standing water and be cautious when using your brakes when driving in snow and ice,” he said. “And simply slow down.”

Morning Panorama
Mt. Lukens from Deukmejian Wilderness Park
Mt. Lukens
Saturday Snowstorm
The Crescenta Valley and the San Gabriel Mountains