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It’s the first of May, 2017. Not exactly snow weather in the SCV. But one can hope. It was one of those small memories you never forget. It was a few winters back, up in the hills of Castaic. I stood outside my office, watching it snow on Sunday. A coyote with a thick coat trotted across the orchard and all was right with the world.

How they must laugh at us in other parts of the world. While we may get more snowstorms than volcanic eruptions in the Santa Clarita Valley, it’s not by much. Snow is an infrequent visitor to the Santa Clarita Valley. There’ve only been a handful of measurable snowfalls in the 20th and 21st centuries.

I’m guessing last year’s — ahem, blizzard — probably dumped a quarter inch on the ground, maybe a pinch more in the upper canyons.

But there have been some epic white outs that would put Alaska to shame.

There was also a pretty good snowfall in the 1930s where local resident Ted Lamkin noted the snow stayed on the ground for two weeks.

But the big daddy, or, if you prefer another gender — The Mother of All Snow Storms — was about 63 years back.

It’s hard to believe, but in early January of 1949, we looked more like White Horse than Saugus.

The longest steady snowfall in the last 160 years fell on downtown Newhall on that date. The thermometer hit a low of 13 and for three straight days, light snow fell on the Santa Clarita — over three feet in some of the higher inland canyons and 20 inches downtown. Yes. Twenty inches, on the ground, in Newhall.

Actually, in 1932, more snow fell in one night — a full foot in Newhall proper. But that was a storm that came and went quickly.

The strange thing about the ‘49 Storm was that very little snow fell on the Ridge Route, Castaic and Saugus. In fact, while it was snowing here, it was raining in Frazier Park at the 4,200-foot elevation. It was the second time in 150 years that it snowed in Malibu (it snowed in 1932 there and here). The snow caused a run on everything from tire chains to gloves for snowball fights and snowman making. Hart High had to cancel a basketball game for the first and only time because of snow.

The snow just wouldn’t leave. It snowed on January 9, 1950, the year I was born. Not just up in the canyon hills, but in downtown Newhall. The blizzard came as the 5th major snowstorm in a row. The icy roads also caused several accidents.

We had a big snowstorm that lasted for two days in 1962. We had between 6-to-30 inches on the ground — that’s ON the valley floor. Drifts up to 7-feet-tall were reported in

Lake Elizabeth and Gorman. The tinny Southern California mobile home roofs groaned under the weight of the wet stuff and many trees branches snapped. All roads in and out of the valley were impassable for a while and many folks in the upper canyons, under a yard or more of snow, were marooned. The mercury dipped to single digits in some

spots — during the morning — and helicopters airlifted food and supplies to a few outposts and searched for stranded motorists. A parking lot formed in Castaic, with 1600 cars and trucks stuck there for several days. Katherine Hyde, who had a dog kennel which specialized in breeding Great Danes, had to snowshoe out two miles to Highway 99 to call for help.

Everyone seemed to love the white stuff as children and adults made snowmen all over the valley. One snowman, built on Arch Street, was of Bigfoot proportions and stood over 10-feet tall. One family was rather chagrined by the snow. They had just moved here from New Hampshire to get away from it and on their

moving-in day, they were snowed on. On Christmas Eve, 1970, for a few days, Santa Clarita looked like the Colorado Rockies. Hundreds were stranded as the Ridge Route was closed — AT ROXFORD — for through traffic. Our native oak and the newer eucalyptus, which aren’t used to snowfall, lost limbs and knocked over power and phone lines. Squadrons of helicopters and four-wheel drive vehicles delivered food and blankets to some folks up in the higher canyons and evacuated a few of the sick and elderly. Some of the odd events were emergency room visits for kids who were unaccustomed to packing snowballs. They made them rock hard and caused several injuries. Another oddity was a run on film. Everyone in town was taking pictures. There was a six-foot snowbank at one Saugus house. Pretty much, the valley was cut off from the rest of the world for about two days.

I remember my sibling-like substances, Joe and Hondo, were just little kids. They scampered out to build a snowman up at the old place in Happy Valley. That lousy Andy Allensworth came by and knocked it over — on purpose — with his VW. Hondo and Jose immediately rebuilt, this time secreting a big, heavy, metal trash can inside, denting Andy’s bumper.

Hondo and Joe?

I like those guys.

Right after New Year’s, 1974, a blizzard hit the Santa Clarita, dumping up to two feet of snow in spots of the valley floor. Daytime visibility dropped to nearly zero and the area was paralyzed. Some 14,000 SCV students were given the unheard of “Snow Day.” Hundreds of commuters couldn’t get home and had to turn back, spending the night at their offices or in hotels. One local was surprised when he went for a doctor’s appointment in the sunny San Fernando Valley and couldn’t get home because of, yes, a blizzard.

April can bring just the strangest weather in Santa Clarita. In 1947, we had a high of 95 with brushfire warnings. Five days later, it was snowing in Downtown Newhall.

More on amazing April. We had late snow here in April of 1927, 1947, April of 1957 and April of 1967. The snow level dropped to a pinch above 2,000 feet and there was nearly a yard of the white stuff in Gorman. We just MISSED having snow in April of 2007 when we had a few flakes fall at the end of March. With the odd 2007 weather came tragedy. A

Boy Scout troop from Hawthorne was lost in the blizzard. One of the scouts died. They had no camping gear and were on a hike when the late storm hit. The scoutmaster left them to get help and the boy died a half-hour after he left. The rest of the troop was brought out with no injuries.

You know me and weather. I love those oddball stories. Here it was June — June, mind you, of 1953 — and a huge cold front blew through, pummeling the area with a quick dumping of an inch of rain. There was lightning, hail AND SNOW — up to six inches of it at about the 1,200-foot elevation. The sudden downpour also caused mudslides to overrun several homes and businesses.

Some folks were stunned and some folks were stranded in early Feb. of 1983. We got hit by a blitzkrieg winter storm which left a foot of snow in Agua Dulce and two feet above Castaic. Hundreds of motorists were stranded in both spots and the roads were parking lots.

We broke a record for cold in 1972. December was the coldest 12th month in Newhall on record. Get this. The AVERAGE nightly temperature in Newhall was 29.5 degrees. That’s a heat wave in North Dakota, but we cowboys and cowgirls here in Santa Clarita are a bit thin-blooded. March 19th, 1982, was one of the prettiest days in the history of the valley. We were blessed when the snow level dropped to 1,500 feet and all the hills were lightly dusted with white powder. The surprise storm landed after an early warm spring when all the wildflowers were blooming, so you had this riot of color popping up from the light snow.

Off the top of my head, I remember a rare mid-day snowfall somewhere in the mid 1970s. I was working at The Formerly Mighty Signal, back when it was on 6th Street. I had a ton of things to finish, deadlines and all. But it started snowing lightly and I jumped on my motorcycle and headed out to Placerita Canyon. I shall never forget that, being the only soul, hiking up the canyon, a light snow falling and not a sound to be heard.

It’s now a long way to Christmas 2013. About the only time I can recall a mentioning of it snowing on Christmas Day in the SCV was during World War II. The valley had a rare, once-in-a-century White Christmas.

(SCV author John Boston also writes The Time Ranger & SCV History for your SCV Beacon. He’s has earned more than 100 major awards for writing, including being named, several times, America’s best humor, and, best serious columnist. Don’t forget to check out his national humor, entertainment & swashbuckling commentary website, America’s Humorist — http://www.johnbostonchronicles.com/) — © 2017 by John Boston. All rights reserved.

 

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