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    • The upward trajectory of the average low temperatures in California storms screams that weather like this might never happen again, so I made it a point to capture the intensity and beauty of the coastal snow.

      Yesterday, I hiked through the San Lucia Mountains of the Big Sur Area. I grew up backpacking in these mountains. Never have I seen snow in them until yesterday. We found WAY more snow than expected. Seeing the native plans including coast live oaks, Pacific madrone trees, and redwoods caked in the snow was unbelievable.

      The San Lucia Mountains are ~2625 square miles of low elevation mountains that start right at the Pacific. They stretch from Monterey to San Luis Obispo. Their proximity to the Pacific keeps them fairly warm. The ocean never gets colder than 50F in that area, which protects the area from freezing storms that bring snow. Only the tallest peaks get dusted with snow, many less than once a year, and the low oak and redwood forests almost never see snow.

      Here's a map of where the San Lucia's, and the Ventana Wilderness which lies within, for reference:

    • My girlfriend Marie, @xelanil and I ventured into the San Lucia Mountains via Tassajara Road. It's a legendary 4x4 road that provides ample access to the backcountry of Las Padres National Forest, Ventana Wilderness, and Julia Pfeiffer State Park. It parallels the Big Sur Area of Highway 1 via a single lane dirt road that traces iconic ridgelines.

      Our plan was to hike the Pine Ridge Trail from China Camp Campground to the Ventana South Cone. Atop the peak, we would see dozens of ridges, the ocean, and Julia Pfieffer State Park of Big Sur.

      We started to see coated trees lower than 2,000'.

      The forest was absolutely covered by the time we got to the Las Padres boundary:

      There's no snowplow service in these mountains because the roads rarely see snow.

      We parked my Subaru at this puddle, with many miles of dirt road between us and the trailhead. Driving a Subaru on a 4x4 dirt road in the snow and mud with no emergency services is asking for a disaster.

      We set out on foot with a new goal to get to Chews Ridge, which is the first major vantage point on Tassajara Road.

      We weren't thrilled that our planned hike turned into walking a dirt road. The tire tracks in the road quickly turned from dirt to slippery ice, and this confirmed that my decision to ditch the Subaru was the right one.

      But quickly it turned into a winter wonderland. I was ecstatic that we were in the right place at the right time to capture the historic weather.

      4x4 trucks and SUVs raced past us as we traversed their tracks. My 4x4 SUV sat on snowless ground.

      The snow kept getting deeper and deeper. Soon there was 6 inches of snow.

      Then 9 inches.

    • We passed the high point of the 4x4 trucks when the snow got one foot deep. I was glad we were on foot. Watching trucks slide down the road was scary.

      Someone ditched this truck that was teetering off the edge of a near-cliff hillside.

    • This last week has been a cold reminder of what California once had for its climate. Now, we have super fires and multi-year droughts. But this week I'm going to celebrate that amazing. So here's are some more photos of plant life that rarely experiences snow.

      Bay laurel and Pacific madrone trees.

      More Pacific madrone's.

      What I think are California black oaks:

    • I commute 17. Never in my life could I make a snowball on my way to work at 1500’, but now one lives! Shot last Tuesday

    • The green grass photos are my favorite for the same reason. Here's another. This is Mt. Hamilton with downtown San Jose in the foreground.

    • Do you have anymore photos from this set? Y’all were staging that one shot on the bank for forever I would love to see the output

    • That’s amazing! I haven’t been able to get up to see the snow this year. Haven’t seen snow in the mountains in years, but when I was little it happened once almost every year! Here is a picture of me from back in 2006 in the Santa Cruz mountains

    • Believe it or not, this is Maui yesterday.
      Lowest snowfall ever recorded, approximately 6,000 feet. On the Big Island, atop Mauna Loa saw wind gusts of 191 mph and the lowest temperature ever recorded in Hawaii, 11 degrees Fahrenheit. The Storm that brought this may have produced the lowest barometric pressure on Hawaii. That would be truly amazing for a winter storm to surpass all of the hurricanes that have hit the islands.

    • Kevin Harrington

      Wow, that's incredible. It's making national news:

      Perhaps the first time ever, snow has fallen in a Hawai‘i State Park

      What is making the Pacific so cold that storms are dumping snow everywhere from Hawaii to California this week?

    • This was the forecast last week when you were up there. I had to screenshot it because never do we see snow in a local forecast. Glad you got up there to capture the snow. The harsh contrast of vibrant green redwoods and snow is spectacular.

    • A friend sent me a dash cam image of the snow on Highway 17 last Tuesday. Mind blown.

    • It keeps happening! Seattle is now getting record snowfall. A clear reminder of what our climate once was.

      This is reminding me of the stories my grandparents tell about snow falling at sea level in San Francisco. In the 70's, the Golden Gate saw snow.

      I was showing my grandma my photos of the snow-covered San Lucia Mountains, and she told me her grandma who also grew up in San Francisco frequently experienced snow in the 1800's. I looked it up. No kidding, snow in SF was about as rare as snow high in the local mountains today.

      Snow accumulation in the late 1800's:

      3.5” on Dec. 31, 1882
      1.5”-2.0” on Feb. 7, 1884
      3.7” on Feb. 5, 1887 (the city’s greatest snowfall, with 7” reported in the western part of the city)
      0.1” on Jan. 16, 1888
      1.0” on March 3, 1896

      3.7" of snow in 1887:

    • Wow, thanks for sharing Hannah! And thanks all for sharing these all of these amazing memories.

      Since this week's events are so rare, I decided I needed to make it back up into the mountains to get some more photos. This time I went to the east bay hills of the Silicon Valley. More coastal oaks and coastal snow!