A cold storm system traveling through Los Angeles County Thursday afternoon sprinkled neighborhoods—and even beaches—with rarely seen snow.
Powder and graupel (which is similar to hail) fell across much of the LA region, and National Weather Service spotters reported snowfall in Calabasas, Thousand Oaks, Northridge, and Pasadena.
“Most amazingly,” snow even fell near sea level, including at the Malibu Pier, Leo Carrillo, Zuma, and Point Dume, the National Weather Service reports.
The agency had predicted that snowfall would be limited to areas at least 1,000 feet above sea level, but weather spotters reported snow in a number of places around 700 feet, including parts of Pasadena.
“I believe it,” climate scientist Daniel Swain tells Curbed. “There were real, traditional, crystalline snowflakes falling in populated areas of LA County.”
The wintery weather delighted and surprised Angelenos.
National Park Service rangers in the Santa Monica Mountains posted photos of snow-capped Sandstone Peak with the caption: “Guess where in LA is this? The Angeles National Forest? Baldy? Nope. The Sierras? Mount Whitney? The Cascades? Try again. Can you believe it snowed in the #santamonicamountains today! Yay!”
Weather Service Meteorologist Kristen Stewart says that cold air from Canada caused precipitation to freeze at lower elevations Thursday.
That’s a rarity in Los Angeles County—but not unprecedented.
In 2003, a “freak and vicious thunderstorm” carpeted South Los Angeles neighborhoods in hail and ice more than one foot deep. In 2007, snow fell in the canyons above Malibu. The last time it snowed in the Los Angeles Basin? 1962, when powder dusted even Downtown LA.
The cold system didn’t last long. Skies were blue Friday morning and Stewart says temperatures will likely return to normal levels by the end of the week.
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Guess - where in LA is this? The Angeles National Forest? Baldy? Nope. The Sierras? Mount Whitney? The Cascades? . Try again. . Can you believe it snowed in the #santamonicamountains today! Yay! ⛄️ ❄️ . #snowinthesantamonicamountains #snowinmalibu #sandstonepeak #circlex #snowinla
Correct, that is snow! Lots of confusion today. If precip bounces it contains ice - call it sleet or small hail. If precip in flakes it's snow, white balls are melted flakes called graupel. #CAwx #LArain #CAstorm https://t.co/Awdddmp7tc— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) February 21, 2019
As of 1250hrs, snow is falling at the 1500’ level in the Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu, CA. Roads will be slippery. Please drive safely! #LAweather @NWSLosAngeles @CHPWestValley @CaltransDist7 pic.twitter.com/jrgxlGg4Vr— LACoFireAirOps (@LACoFireAirOps) February 21, 2019
Nothing wrong with a little snow in West Hollywood. Don’t worry folks, the climate’s just fine. pic.twitter.com/muR8KtHjoK— Dakota Lupo (@DakotaLupo) February 21, 2019
Man is it really snowing in Pasadena? pic.twitter.com/zKNOmOe3qf— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) February 21, 2019