We wouldn’t put it past 2020 to give the central coast a snowstorm. Several Museum staff members have “Snow on the Beach” on their 2020 bingo cards. If you think that’s unlikely, you might be surprised to know that Ventura County’s coastal areas have seen snow several times in recent history.
The winter of 1948 – 1949 was a cold one and by January 8, 1949 the County suffered over $1 million in crop losses. There was a cold snap the first week of January that split the bark of citrus trees in Wheeler Canyon. The night of January 7, 1949, temperatures reached 23 degrees in Ojai and 25 degrees in Fillmore. It was also a dry winter, which hadn’t helped with the crops. On January 9, at 3 p.m., snow flurries began to fly in Oxnard.
Snow continued to fall on January 10 and was reported from Casitas Springs and Rancho Arnaz, to Nyeland Acres near El Rio. Snow blanketed the Santa Rosa Valley near Camarillo and the Avenue in Ventura was a winter wonderland. By January 11, the Oxnard Press Courier reported that the “whole county was blanketed with from two inches in Oxnard on up to 4 1/2 inches at the Oxnard Citrus Association in Port Hueneme.”
The phone lines were jammed, with both adults and children calling their friends to tell them to watch the snow come down. Children set their alarm clocks to wake them early, for fear that the sun would melt the snow and, on their way to school, they romped and threw snowballs, most of them seeing snow for the first time.
Chickens refused to leave their coops and the areas domestic ducks were completely puzzled. A power line in Oxnard snapped from the weight of the snow, cutting off power to one neighborhood for 5 hours. Ventura’s east end lost power at one point for 4 hours. Traffic had never moved so slowly, according to the local papers. Despite such a disruptive event, trains and busses ran on time. The papers also reported that there was a run on camera film – as soon as stores opened people were buying up film to take pictures of the snow.
It snowed again the night of January 11, with as much as 4 inches accumulating in the Simi Valley area and another inch fell in Oxnard, Camarillo, and Port Hueneme. The Conejo Grade was icy and the State Highway Maintenance Department covered it with sand to help vehicles keep from sliding. Pipes froze across the county as well. Despite all this mayhem, it was reported that Ventura County was spared some of the worst effects of the cold snap. Highways were closed throughout the area and the San Fernando valley was cut off from Los Angeles at one point.
By January 12 snow had started to melt in Simi. On January 13, the weather had almost disappeared from the headlines. It was noted that the snowy and icy conditions had caused some car accidents on the 12th. Then, on the night of January 14, a light rain began to fall across the county, much to the liking of Ventura County’s farmers and to the disappointment, we are sure, to many snowball throwers and snowman builders.
Do you think it will snow before 2020 is through with us? Leave us your vote in the comments and share any great Ventura County snow pictures from our past.
Picture: Port Hueneme in Snow. PN7717OS. January 11, 1949, I.N. Duggan.
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