Blizzard warning issued for Los Angeles County for the first time since 1989

We’ve been having interesting weather in California for a few years now. The state is in a drought, which is typical, but it’s been a particularly bad drought despite the precipitation. However, in So Cal, it’s been colder longer for at least two years. Then one month of summer tries to suffocate us with an unbearable heatwave. Right when it looks as if we’re back on track, we’ll get another heatwave in the middle of a cold snap. So, you know – climate change.

This season has been wet – very wet. And the good kind of wet because it rained, soaked in, then rained again so our reservoirs are filling up. But then Gaia unleashed hell. We had a series of storms that flooded several parts of California. The usual targets, like Santa Barbara and Malibu, were hit hard. But several ‘safe’ cities, like mine, started flooding as well. Following, things returned to normal – cold, but calm. I guess Gaia is bored again because she’s opened up her can of crazy for us one more time, this time with blizzard warnings for Los Angeles County. These are the the first blizzard warnings issued in this area since 1989.

A powerful winter storm began moving into Southern California on Wednesday, with snow expected at unusually low levels and blizzard conditions coming to the mountains.

Some areas already felt the impact Tuesday, with the 15 Freeway near the California-Nevada line shut down overnight because of dangerous conditions, leaving drivers stuck in their cars for hours.

In Big Bear, snow was already falling Wednesday afternoon and people were stocking up on food and supplies to hunker down for days. Drivers were stopping to put on chains as Caltrans prepared to have crews out 24 hours a day to keep the roads clear.

The warning is scheduled to take effect at 4 a.m. Friday and will last until 4 p.m. Saturday. The NWS predicts from 2 to 5 feet of snow could accumulate in the mountains above 4,000 feet, falling even as heavy winds gust up to 75 mph.

Below that, at elevations of 2,000 to 4,000 feet, about 6-12 inches of snow are expected.

The last such warning for the area was issued on Feb. 4, 1989.

“Even if this is not our 1st, this is a dangerous storm. Do not travel in the mountains,” on Friday and Saturday, the agency said on Twitter.

Visibility at that time is expected to be very low and travel is not advised through those areas.

Passes like the Grapevine and the Cajon Pass are likely to also see dangerous driving conditions. Drivers are advised to bring chains and a full tank of gas and be prepared for difficult weather and road closures.

“They’re expecting snow to drop as low as 1,000 feet,” said Mark Bishoff with Caltrans. “The top of the Grapevine is a little over 4,000 feet, so they’re expecting it to be impacted by snow.”

“If you can stay home, then stay home. That’s the best choice that you can make. If you do have to go, then make sure your car is prepped. Make sure the tires are inflated properly, your windshield (wipers) and your headlights are working.”

Bishoff added California law requires headlights to be on when windshield wipers are in use.

He also recommends drivers have a kit with them in their car if they do need to hit the road: a blanket, cellphone, charger, water and snacks.

[From ABC7]

I included so much of the news report because there is some important information there. Including things I didn’t know, like it was law to have your headlights on when the wipers are in use – whoops. (My lights are automatic, so they’re always on.) These warnings are not for the people who live in the mountains, they know how to get through a blizzard. They’re for those coming to the mountains to take advantage of the storm. If you watch the news reports, they talked to people who are already stranded on the highways because they have the wrong chains for their tires. The wrong chains on a tire will punch a hole in your wheel-well. Roads like the Grapevine that take travelers from LA to the Central Valley do not have an outlet. Drivers can’t turn around, stuck means stuck, in freezing conditions. There was a girl from San Diego in the news clip who said they’d hoped to ski and get out by 1 or 2pm. If not, they’d “just stay in Big Bear.” But if everyone is stuck in Big Bear, eventually there won’t be anywhere to stay. I hope VRBO left all their keys under the mats. And all of this is to go skiing/boarding. But even if the mountain’s open, it’ll likely be a white-out and that’s not worth it either. Please stay home. It’ll be safer for everyone, including those that will have to rescue you people when their gamble doesn’t pay off.

While the mountains are looking at blizzards, the cities are facing the winds the article discussed. They started Tuesday and were biblical. Our street had the trash cans on the curb, and it looked like the cans had had a rager and tried to make it back to work the next morning. Temps are back in the 40s/50s. The rain’s just started but we are on flood watch until Saturday.

And I know this is not the point, but at least this cold weather means boot season is extended and honestly, I could not be happier. I just hope my roof holds. Stay safe, my friends.

Photo Credit: Instagram

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49 Responses to “Blizzard warning issued for Los Angeles County for the first time since 1989”

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  1. Lolo86lf says:

    Gaia ( I have no idea how to pronounce it) please send a blizzard and or rain to Tampa Bay. We are having temps into the 80’s this week and it is way too early for such heat.

    • SomeChick says:


      this storm sounds like a doozy! I was up in Big Bear visiting friends, and a storm rolled in just as we were almost all the way down the mountain. it was sheets of rain and the freeway traffic was a mess. if we’d been higher up we’d have gotten snowed in for sure. stay safe everybody!

      • Sam says:

        The consequences of climate change are really getting worse. This really scares me…

      • Jan90067 says:

        It’s not just in the mountains. This storm had it HAILING in Santa Monica and Beverly Hills yesterday morning! I haven’t seen hail in these areas for almost 40 yrs! It was really crazy.

        I heard rain pounding the windows; today and tomorrow are supposed to be heavy rain. My nephew was supposed to fly into L.A. from Chicago last night around 10; his flight was cancelled 😞 Don’t think he’s going to be able to get her at all now.

      • Yvette says:

        I lived in Los Angeles from August 1986 until March 1994–two miles away from UCLA and a couple of miles away from the ocean (I got the heck out of Dodge after the Northridge quake). People don’t believe me when I tell them that the first three years I lived in L.A. the winters were extremely cold and rainy. I didn’t pack any winter gear for my move because … Los Angeles, CA. That first winter I had to buy a winter coat, a hat, a woof scarf, and gloves. I was shocked. My roommate and co-workers said it was a rare thing, but did occur every 10-years or so.

        LOL! the last four years I lived in L.A. girls were on the Santa Monica beach wearing bikinis and Santa hats. 🙂

  2. Miranda says:

    From a snow-loving New Yorker, where we haven’t gotten a damn thing with this bullshit mild winter, can I just say I hate you guys and f–k you all? I went to college in L.A., and my friends out there are always like, “don’t you miss it here?” HELL NO. The only thing I ever really long for is quick flights up to Tahoe for deep snow and amazing backcountry skiing! But right now, maybe I miss it a tiiiny bit. So I’m just gonna sit back and laugh while you guys crash your cars, because you’re terrible drivers at the best of times and get nervous if someone spits in the road. 😂🤣

  3. Carmen says:

    I’m in Placentia in Orange County (right south of Los Angeles) and there was actually hail falling in the early afternoon. A friend in Hollywood Hills went to work in a morning hailstorm. It’s going to be a wild weekend in Cali.

  4. Nicegirl says:

    Hope you’re safe and warm this weekend lady.

  5. Izzy says:

    WTF this is bonkers. Do they even have snow plows in SoCal?

    • Jillibillijean says:

      Yes, there are snowplows here. The mountains get snow regularly in winter, and they are not far away. It snowed when I was living in Huntington Beach once. I don’t know why people think we don’t get a variety of weather…

      • Justwastingtime says:

        LA resident here ( in the Santa Monicas range so kind of crazy yesterday with 60 mile gusts, downed trees, and hail)

        I don’t think people realize that -given its topography- it’s not that rare to see snow in LA atop the mountains. I often see snow on top of the San Gabriel’s as I drive into the city after just a mild rain.

        Of course this storm is different but they totally have an understanding of snow conditions.

  6. Kokiri says:

    It’s so bad they had to call off the search for Julian Sands.
    He’s been missing for over 5 weeks, went missing hiking on Mt Baldy.

  7. FhMom says:

    Stay warm and enjoy the snow. It may be a once in a lifetime

  8. Lore says:

    As your Canadian friend I offer these tips as well:
    – Keep water and a jar of peanut butter in your car in case you get stranded.
    – Dress in layers for warmth and dryness.
    Stay safe everyone!

    • Marguerita says:

      Yah, make sure you have protein in your snacks! Avoid energy drinks, no good!

      Also, I mentioned it below, but MANUALLY turn your lights on!! Then you know your rear lights are actually on, they don’t turn on with your daytime running lights. Increase your visibility!

  9. Dani says:

    Driving my kid to school yesterday and we were pelted with HAIL. I have lived in the Midwest and East Coast and was definitely not prepared for icy balls of Gaia fury in LA. It felt bibilical.

  10. Remy says:

    There was a tornado in la yesterday. It also hailed in la and oc. It snowed in Santa Cruz. Weather is bonkers.

  11. BeanieBean says:

    I was born in & spent the first eight years of my life in a couple of the towns depicted on the map in this story. I’m absolutely amazed at this weather! I have since that time moved around a lot & lived in mountainous areas. Another tire chain tip: practice putting chains on on a clear sunny day. You don’t want the first time you chain up to be in the freezing cold snow, or worse yet, in the the freezing cold snow at night.

  12. JustMe says:

    All this wild weather has me feeling like “end of days” is hurtling towards us. Time seems like it’s been sped up and weird things are becoming the norm. There is no water in Venice…no water in canals in Venice. I’m sure throughout history these things have happened before. Maybe globally we are more aware than we were before. Seriously if I woke up to news of an alien invasion I’d be like HUH guess that’s what we’re doing now

    • TwinFalls says:

      I feel this way too.

    • ME says:

      It really does feel like since 2016 things have gone to sh*t even faster than most people thought they would. I don’t know. Live is stressful and I’m always nervous. Climate change is affecting EVERYONE, and the cherry on top was this damn Pandemic that doesn’t want to end. The only next logical step is an alien invasion lol. I mean would anyone really be surprised?

  13. Rnot says:

    From a resident of the frozen north: keep a wool blanket in your winter car kit. If you get stuck in the snow you’ll probably try to dig yourself out first. That means that you’ll be cold and wet. Unlike cotton and synthetics, wool will still keep you warm when wet. I also recommend “chopper” mittens or the kind where they have a fingerless glove inside and the mitten part can be folded back.

    • Marguerita says:

      In addition to this comment about digging out; you can use your floor mats to give traction in deep snow/icy conditions. If you want further tips, keep kitty litter in the trunk for better preparedness.

      Wool and fleece all the way!

    • BeanieBean says:

      Has anybody mentioned keeping a flashlight in your car yet? You don’t want to run out your cellphone lighting up your tires as you try to put chains on in the night. Reflective triangles are also good.

  14. Becks says:

    I’m in Highland Park and the weather yesterday was WILD! We had wind, rain, and hail, but also sunshine and rainbows by the early evening.

    • Christine says:

      The sunshine with heavy rain around 5 pm yesterday was GLORIOUS. My son was running up and down the street like a lunatic, which I suppose makes sense for a native SoCal kid.

  15. tealily says:

    I’m just here honking for Sheba Turk! Love her.

  16. Dara says:

    Stay safe Cali peeps! Portland saw 10” of snow in the last few days, which blows my mind this late in February. Seattle missed the worst of this (she says hopefully) but it’s shockingly cold here and we might get some snow this weekend.

    Is anyone else picturing Dennis Quaid lecturing a group of scientists whenever they hear news reports like this? No? Just me then. Who knew that a Jake Gyllenhaal movie from the early aughts would nail climate change. Their technical advisor deserves a trophy.

  17. Marguerita says:

    Just a note for people not used to snow conditions: your automatic lights/day time running lights do NOT turn your rear lights on!! Please manually turn your lights on, then your rear lights will be on and people will see them! I’ve been in blizzards (I’m Canadian) and come up on people who are relying solely on their daytimes, and you do NOT see the vehicle until you come up on it. I didn’t even finish reading the article yet, this is SUCH a pet-peeve for me!! When your visibility is severely reduced and limited, please make yourself as visible as possible.

    Turn them lights on!!

    • Marguerita says:

      I didn’t mean to thread jack, but I sincerely worry for my southern friends, some experiencing these kinds of conditions for the first time. I read an article once from a person who moved from a northern state like Minnesota to Texas, and experienced WHY there are so many issues when it actually snows. None of the infrastructure in southern states are built to accommodate snow and cold conditions. Roads are built for rain runoff, not snow and ice, which is why the vehicles (also not built for cold) slide at the slightest hint of too cold. It’s not something I understood before I read this, and thus took to heart. Even where I am in northern Ontario, it was always funny when it snowed in Toronto and caused havoc, we would laugh at the situation, “those guys have no idea how to drive, how silly, call the army!”. Maybe aging (or more self-awareness) has enabled me to be more empathetic and to try to see things from others’ perspectives. So now I worry, and try to share practical tips.

      • Christine says:

        I grew up in Oklahoma, so entirely used to really wild weather, often. I am more scared driving in drizzle in LA than a massive thunderstorm in Oklahoma. It’s no joke, if you don’t know how to drive with precipitation on the streets, please don’t.

  18. SIde Eye says:

    Canadian here (living in NH) keep some bottled water in your car, a blanket, change of clothes and fill up your tank! You don’t want to run out of gas in a blizzard trust me. I’d get some hand warmers and keep them handy if you need them.

  19. Harla A Brazen Hussy says:

    I live in the Eastern High Sierra area of California, think Mt. Whitney and Mammoth Mountain ski area. It’s absolutely dumping snow here on the valley floor and howling, swirling winds are making it like a white-out. There’s only one road in this area heading south/north and it’s now closed, so if you’re not where you were intending to be, you’re not going to get there.

    • Kkat says:

      I love up by Mt Whitney, whenever we camp at Alabama hills we drive up and then either hike down the trail on the other side of the water or hike up to the summit.

      Our camping usually includes Four Jeffery up by bishop and then we go down to Alabama hills and roast to death

  20. Cait says:

    Listen; I’m just happy to see my girl Sheba Turk. She just left NOLA, where she is beloved, for her dream job.

  21. Kkat says:

    I’m 53, it’s true we haven’t had extreme weather for awhile, but in the 80’s we sure did.
    I’m in Lakewood near long Beach, which is south of L.A. and we used to get tons of rain.
    My jr high and high school both flooded so bad the school was closed for two weeks.
    On Lakewood Blvd the water was so deep people were using boats.

    We would frequently get summer storms with hail in the 70’s and 80’s

    And we usually get down to the 30’s in the early morning in February and March every year

    When I was in highschool starting around 85 – 90 my best friend and I were Ski instructors up at Snow Valley and Snow Summit
    We had school til 11:50 then we’d drive up the mountain, teach for a few hours and drive back down
    One year we got a late snow and we had skiing til the end of June.

    So California has always had weather, you just have to be old enough to remember.

    • McGee says:

      I remember those 80’s storms!
      I was in West Hollywood for one walking home from school and streets were filled with rushing water, enough that was hard to keep my footing as crossed the street. A kind driver saw me struggling and rolled down her window and helped pull me in to give me a ride home.

  22. j.ferber says:

    Stay safe, Californians!!!

  23. Sunnyjyl says:

    I’m just a Northern girl trying to soak up some sunshine in the SoCal desert. Wahhhh. . .

  24. Delphine says:

    I just bought a pair of rubber Hunter boots on sale a few weeks ago and they turned out to be a great investment. I feel like a kid sploshing through puddles.

    If you’re in LA they still have them at the Off Broadway shoe store on Sunset. Highly recommend!

    • Christine says:

      Hee! That’s where I take my son for new shoes! Is there anyone in LA (who doesn’t want to spend top dollar on shoes) not a fan of Off Broadway? Walk across the street to indulge in a little In ‘n Out, and call it a day.

      • Delphine says:

        Shoe shopping and In-n-Out are a great combo! I’m pretty picky about shoes and I’m always able to find something there even if it’s just one thing. Found a cute pair of suede boots for the BOGO so I’m set for all weather now. It’s more of a BOGOHO though since the second pair is half off.

  25. Delphine says:

    I just bought a pair of rubber Hunter boots on sale a few weeks ago and they turned out to be a great investment. I feel like a kid splashing through puddles.

    If you live in LA they still have them at the Off Broadway shoe store on Sunset. Highly recommend!