Published On: Sat, Feb 25th, 2023

Storm brings snow to Southern California as heavy rain prompts search and rescue missions

A cold front turbocharged by tropical precipitation brought rare snow to some urban Southern California rooftops and heavy rain that prompted swift-water rescues Saturday.

In Michigan, the number of homes and businesses without power dropped to below 311,000 early Sunday from nearly 800,000 Thursday, according to according to grid tracker

In California, the mix of a relatively warm atmospheric river and cold air from the Gulf of Alaska meant that many residents of high desert communities and Southern California valleys, including Antelope Valley and the San Gabriel Valley, woke up to a fresh dusting of snow Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

Video also appeared to show snow falling Saturday in Rancho Cucamonga and Fontana, in San Bernardino County.

Jacob Polanco, left, 8, and his older sister Khloe, 9, make snow angels in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023.
Jacob Polanco, left, 8, and his older sister Khloe, 9, make snow angels in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., on Saturday.Will Lester / The Orange County Register via AP

Unheard of amounts of snow were recorded in mountains from the Sierra Nevada to Southern California’s Peninsular Ranges that stretch into Mexico.

In the last four days, nearly 5 feet of snow was recorded at Donner Summit, the University of California, Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Lab tweeted. In that same period, Mount Baldy, near downtown L.A., measured more than 3 feet, and Mount Laguna in San Diego County recorded more than 2 feet, according to the National Weather Service.

At Mountain High Resort in Wrightwood, about 75 miles east of L.A., more than 6 feet of snow fell in less than a week — with 5 of those feet in a 24-hour period. So much snow fell that the resort said it closed Saturday to “use what available staff we have to dig out and clean up.”

The snow, rain and wind prompted road closures and flooding near rivers and washes throughout California as the storm moved south and east from Oregon overnight.

Snow blankets a home in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., on February 25, 2023.
Snow blankets a home in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., on Saturday.Josh Edelson / AFP via Getty Images

Heavy snow and ice were to blame for the closure of Interstate 5’s Grapevine, which is the main roadway to San Francisco. It would remain closed at least through late Sunday morning, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The city of Big Bear Lake warned Saturday that all roads to the community surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest were closed due to snow, with no estimate available on when they might reopen. Yosemite National Park said it would be closed until Wednesday because of severe winter conditions.

About 73,000 homes and businesses in California were without power Saturday night, according

Several inches of rain fell across Los Angeles County over a four-day period. Topanga Canyon near Malibu received 6.7 inches, Pasadena recorded 7.84 inches, and 4.3 inches fell in downtown L.A., according to the weather service.

The Los Angeles River flows at a high rate due to severe rain in Los Angeles on Feb. 25, 2023.
The Los Angeles River flows at a high rate due to severe rain in Los Angeles on Saturday.Allison Dinner / AFP via Getty Images

Three RV trailers parked at the Valencia Travel Village RV Resort in Castaic, at the northern end of L.A. County, were swept into a storm swollen Santa Clara River overnight, prompting a helicopter-based search-and-rescue crew from the nearby Ventura County Fire Department to respond.

A trailer was found, according to the fire department, but no victims were located and no injuries were reported.

The heavy rain was especially perilous for those without shelter. In Los Angeles, a helicopter-based rescue crew hoisted two homeless men stranded on islands of dry ground in the Hanson Flood Control Basin to safety Saturday, the Los Angeles Fire Department said in a series of statements.

The men were uninjured and released at the scene, the department said.

Los Angeles County officials shut down 24 miles of beach from Nicholas Canyon in Malibu to White Point Beach in San Pedro for nearly two hours Saturday afternoon after lightning was observed on the shoreline, according to county lifeguards.

In Michigan, which has been battered by an ice storm, about 311,000 utility customers were without power early Sunday, according to

Trevor Lauer, president of DTE Energy, estimated power would be restored to 95% of the utility’s customers by Sunday, when warmer weather was forecast to settle in.

The utility said it had more than 4,000 workers tasked with restoring electricity and going door-to-door to check up on vulnerable residents.

The rain-producing front that pummeled California was expected to move east across the nation through the early week, bringing rain to the desert southwest, moving into the Midwest and Great Lakes, and eventually impacting the East Coast with a fresh round of rain and possibly snow, federal forecasters said.

Additional storms from the Gulf of Alaska were forecast for California and the West, but it was unlikely any would mimic the strange brew of tropical precipitation and snow-worthy cold that struck the coast overnight, forecasters said.

“In the future, these can definitely happen,” said Adam Rosen, a National Weather Service meteorologist in San Diego. “But they don’t happen very often. This was an anomalous event here.”

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