This past week we read in the newspapers and saw reports on T. V. that Bakersfield, San Francisco and points in between received a blanket of snow. Could this have happened to sunny frost free Fallbrook? The answer is a Big YES! It has happened at least on three occasions:
Report of the first one was found in the book, "Three Paths Along A River," by Tom Hudson and other two are documented in the Fallbrook Enterprise.
From Tom Hudson's book:
Twenty years after the death of Isidro Alvarado of Smallpox in 1862 young Tomas Alvarado himself had begun to age in his role of master of Rancho Monserate. A rider came over the hills from Temecula with a message of the death of a friend in Los Angeles. Don Tomas mounted and hurried away to the north. After getting as far as Temecula and confronting bad weather and snow he decided to return home.
Snow in the valleys of the lower San Luis Rey is rare indeed. Yet when Don Tomas rode into the teeth of the north wind that was blowing down from the mountains, he faced a blinding fall of snow. The rider got no farther than Temecula, just over the hills to the north, when he was forced to seek shelter. After a long delay he returned to Monserate only to learn that in his absence death had again ridden in his black robe through the snow-whitened valley. His Indian sheepherders, unaccustomed to the wintry weather, had deserted their flocks and six thousand sheep, huddled in high piles, had died of suffocation and freezing. Don Tomas died in poverty.
Taken from the Fallbrook Enterprise, Friday January 14, 1949:
Snow Blanket Protects Fallbrook From Cold Snap
People did not know if they were in Fallbrook or in Canada last Monday as they wakened to find every tree, shrub, hill and blade of grass covered with snow. A few alert people found out about the snowstorm Sunday night and word spread quickly that Fallbrook was enjoying . . . a snowstorm.
But the repeat performance started that night soon after dark when snow fell quickly and left another protective blanket of one to eight inches over the area. Those who had never seen snow in Fallbrook could hardly believe it; youngsters immediately took to it like ducks to water, and it was soon evident that many were unable to travel where they had planned to go.
Then came Tuesday night sleet hit several areas and during the night the warmer rain melted some of the remaining piles in the lower areas, while many in the higher elevations still had banks of snow under trees, and in sheltered spots until Wednesday.
What was most welcome of all was the fact that the earlier predicted freeze was mitigated and instead the soft blanket of snow protected fruit from damage expected by Jack Frost. Temperatures in Fallbrook remained in the safe zone and no damage was experienced.
Traffic was slowed down when snows were deepest and most fresh. On east Alvarado two cars collided as they skidded on the slick road. Although no personal injury was sustained, the cars of Lewis Reed and Clifford Lincoln had to be towed away.
Weight from the snow took the only toll here. Avocado trees with their brittle branches experienced some damage as branches broke. Many growers were out shaking their trees Monday night to avoid such breakage.
Red Mountain Ranch where the snow was about six inches deep Mr. Myron Warner reports that about 12 trees were lost as were the branches from 35 trees. However this was not as much as at first anticipated. Scattered broken branches were found in lower groves.
Rainbow had a heavy fall at the summit where only a one way track took traffic over the pass. About eight inches fell on the heights in Rainbow, some residents being marooned until after the snow melted.
At Red Mountain Ranch Mr. Warner reports 2.50 inches during the storm to Thursday morning. Seasonal fall has totaled 3.16 inches. Each area has more the doubled last year's total.
Various forms of sport were enjoyed, with snowballing taking lead. Did you see that comfortable snowman that Mrs. E. C. Smelser had on her front lawn? She rolled the jolly man up during the evening hours Sunday and again added to it on Monday. Many other artistic creations could be seen.
Taken from the Fallbrook Enterprise, Dec. 14, 1967:
First Snow Since 1949
Color Scene White
Fallbrook woke up Wednesday morning covered with about a four inch blanket of snow, and a steady light snow was still falling. For most Fallbrook youngsters and some not so young it was the first time they had ever seen a snowfall. The last time a snowfall was recorded in Fallbrook Enterprise was the week of Jan. 21, 1949.
Wednesday's snow fall seems to have been more even, with amounts reported from 3 to somewhat over 4 inches. Red Mountain Ranch, which had 6 inches in 1949, reported about 4 inches. Though deeper in some parts of the grove Wednesday Morning.
As far as the youngsters were concerned the snow was a bonanza. Snow men sprung up in front and back yards, snowball fights intermittently irrupted and because of the danger of bus travel on the slick roads school was dismissed at all elementary school and at the high school as well. One school bus slid across the road out at Willow Glen Road and had to be towed out. No damage was incurred and none was hurt.
It was expected that school would resume on Thursday, for though freezing temperatures were predicted, no more snow was anticipated.
Editor note: Many readers will remember the hailstorm of May 24, 1996 which blanked the downtown area of Fallbrook, that was shown on the cover of the Fallbrook Directory for 1997, however one should not confuse it with a snow storm. The storm deposited small hail stones and not snow, even though it did leave a white mantel over downtown Fallbrook. The damaging low night time temperatures that normally accompany a snow storm were not present.
The Fallbrook Historical Society is very short of pictures of snow storms in the area. We ask that any persons who would share their photos with us (to be copied) would be appreciated.
Because of the nature of obtaining material from various sources, Fallbrook Historical Society cannot guarantee the accuracy of all the information this document contains.
Fallbrook Historical Society
Fallbrook, CA Area Information: History
Elizabeth Yamaguchi's Writings On Fallbrook History
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Last update: 9 April 2000.