Exploring San Diego


TIMELINE: When snow has fallen in San Diego

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Posted at 2:08 PM, Jan 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-25 19:47:15-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Snow in San Diego isn't as normal an occurrence each year as it is in the county's mountain communities.

On at least 10 occasions, but only three of them official, has snow been recorded within the city limits of San Diego, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In a 2004 report on the climate of San Diego, the NOAA chronicled the city's rare history with snowfall, though many of these instances only account for reports of flurries and not substantial snow. But on a couple of occasions, residents at the time were treated to a snowball fight or two.

RELATED: Where to go, what to bring when it snows in San Diego County

"Genuine snow, whether it be in the form of sleet, ice pellets, snow pellets, graupel, or flakes, has fallen in the city on at least 10 days, with only 3 of them considered official," a report from the NOAA reads.

Here's a look at the most noteworthy times snow fell in San Diego, according to NOAA:

1847: While at this time weather keeping hadn't been officially established, in December 1847, light snow reportedly fell near Old Town with much heavier amounts to the east. There was a possibility that a few flakes fell in town, but those details are not officially recorded, NOAA says.

1882: Dubbed the "Great Storm of January 1882," a storm on Jan. 14 dropped snowflakes that melted in most instances as they fell to the ground, NOAA says. Instances of sleet were also reported within the city limits. Outside of San Diego, snow was reported in El Cajon Valley (3 inches), Poway Grade (4 inches), and one inch in the valley. Measurable snow also fell in Del Mar. The brunt of this storm was felt in the East County mountains, which saw several feet of snow in some areas.

1937: Snow flurries were reported at Lindbergh Field during the early morning of Jan. 21, but it was not officially recorded in record books because it didn't occur at an official weather station, NOAA said. Residents in the eastern and northern parts of the city also reported light flurries.

1946: On Feb. 11, a few brief snow flurries were reported in parts of the city after cold showers and icy winds, but Lindbergh Field didn't report a flake.

1949: A round of snow, hail, and sleet hit San Diego on Jan. 10, with visible snow reported during the early morning at Camp Miramar, Rose Canyon, Mt. Helix, East San Diego, North Park, La Jolla, Point Loma, and El Cajon, NOAA says. About four to eight inches of snow was reported as low as 1,000 feet. A light covering was also reported in Escondido, Spring Valley, and other areas surrounding San Diego. Lindbergh Field reported snow on the 10th and 11th, the only time in history consecutive days of snow fell in the city, NOAA added.

1967: Snow fell the night of Dec. 13 and covered areas including North Park, East San Diego, Clairemont, University City, and just above Mission Valley. Del Mar, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Vista, Fallbrook, and La Jolla also reported snowfall. NOAA says one San Diego Police Sergeant was reported saying from his Traffic Control Helicopter: "The whole city of San Diego was white." Several small traffic crashes were also reported, presumably because of the snow, inundating local authorities. LINK: WATCH SNOW FALL OVER COLLEGE GROVE IN VIDEO FROM 1967

1987: San Diego very nearly has a white Christmas on Dec. 24, when snow was reported in Descanso and Jamul. Some areas within the city limits reported snow flurries or flakes, but Lindbergh Field didn't even report rain.

1990: On Jan. 17, a winter storm caused snow levels to drop rapidly, with snowflakes reported within the city limits, including several coastal communities. Lindbergh Field, however, didn't report any snowfall.