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When it snows in California

Updated: Apr 17, 2023

Image via Unsplash/Nathan Dumlao

It isn’t often when living in LA that you can drive thirty minutes north and find yourself in a winter wonderland, but this has been the reality of the past couple of months. According to the Los Angeles Times, this year has been “one of the heavier snowfalls on record in Southern California.” In addition to snow, California is experiencing one of the wettest winters on record and many throughout the state have been struggling with recurring power outages.

San Bernardino mountain towns, such as Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead, have been buried in snowfall for the past few weeks and have entered a state of emergency. Residents were trapped in their homes, their doors and windows blocked by walls of snow. The New York Times reported that “ officials said that more than seven feet of snow had fallen there in 15 days; hospital officials said that “tragedies have happened because of the weather…”. Thirteen people in San Bernardino have died since the snowfall, although only one of the deaths has been deemed to be directly related to the weather. Residents are struggling to complete daily tasks, many saying that they have to put on snowshoes to go to the grocery store. The Sierra Nevada mountains, specifically Yosemite National Park, has received more than fifteen feet of snow and is closed indefinitely.

This past winter I have experienced more rainy days in California than I have my entire life. Currently the state is experiencing its 11th atmospheric river storm of the season. “Atmospheric river storms get their name from their long, narrow shape and the prodigious amount of water they carry,” the New York Times explains, “they form when the winds over the Pacific draw a filament of moisture from the band of warm, moist air over the tropics and channel it toward the West Coast”. When these rivers of warm moisture hit the Sierra Nevada mountains they drastically decrease in temperature and result in massive amounts of snow and rain. In Northern California, over 336,000 households have been left without power as a result of the latest atmospheric river storm. The storm has caused urban flooding in both Los Angeles and San Francisco. The city of Los Angeles experienced its first blizzard warning since 1989, and areas such as Santa Clarita, Glendale, and Altadena had light snow which has not been seen for decades.

Feeling unprepared and confused while experiencing the first-hand effects of climate change is dangerous for individuals and communities. It is scary and unnerving to watch the condition of the world around us deteriorate and not know what comes next. The 12th atmospheric river storm hit Southern California during the week of March 19th through 25th and brought more heavy rain and strong winds with it, causing harm and detrimental effects. Now in April, we've still seen unprecedented rainy days, making one wonder: How much more rain?


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