Storm brings light snowfall to SCV

CHP escorts vehicles over the top of Grapevine Summit snow starting to stick at 4000 foot level near Frazier Park. photo for The Signal by Jeff Zimmerman.

By Nathanael Rodriguez, For The Signal

Rare snow sightings were reported throughout the Santa Clarita Valley on Thursday, leaving local students trying to take part in activities usually reserved for cooler climates.

Pictures and reports of snowballs and even a short-lived snowman were shared — meanwhile first responders worked feverishly to keep the roads and streets safe.

“I was just standing there, I looked out, and it started hailing — it was magical,” said Lily Schardein, a third-grader at Rio Vista Elementary School. “One of my friends yelled out, ‘It’s a Christmas miracle.’”

The class worked together to make an 18-inch tall snowman, and then took a picture with it, she added.

“Even though our fingers were cold,” she said, “we kept digging in the snow.”  

Meteorologists from the National Weather Service said the worst of the storm front moving through the SCV came Thursday, and Friday’s forecast called for much drier conditions.

“(On Friday) we’re not looking at any snow or any rain, it’s a pretty dry storm, there wasn’t too much moisture,” said Lisa Phillips, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “Today was the ‘main event’ you could say.”

The storm began as hail in Saugus, and by the time it had moved to Canyon Country it had slowly turned into snow, according to the weather experts. The 24-hour readings indicated there had been .04 inches at the weather station in Newhall, and .12 inches in Castaic.

Meteorologists said there is no official climate (weather-gathering) station in the SCV, but reports indicated the last time it snowed locally at relatively lower altitudes was 2011.

The increasingly wet weather lately is due to a cold storm system dropping in from the north bringing cold weather from Canada, according to the National Weather Service.

“Spotters have been telling us that they’ve been seeing snow throughout the area,” said Kristen Stewart, weather specialist with the National Weather Service. “This morning, 3 inches of snow hit Frasier Park, and 7 inches at Mountain High.”

The storm began with rain in Saugus, Stewart said. The rain then turned to what is called graupel — a sleet-like substance somewhere between snow and hail. By the time it reached Canyon Country, residents were stepping outside with glee to embrace what had become falling snow.

The storm also prompted road closures, as a precaution, with Interstate 5 closed down near the Grapevine in both directions from 12:30 to 2:30 a.m.

“That adds another element,” CHP Officer Josh Greengard said of the storm. “Because we need to send bodies to demand closure for the freeway, it takes away officers that can respond to calls.”

Dry weather is expected Friday and through the weekend. However, there is a freeze warning issued for Thursday at midnight into 8 a.m. Friday.

“It looks like the weather’s (going to) treat us good though for the next week or so,” said Greengard. “Nicer weather should hopefully bring less traffic collisions.”

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