first alert weather

San Diego County's Peaks See First Snowfall of the Season

The last time significant snow fell in San Diego's mountains was in March 2021 when Julian, Palomar Mountain and Mount Laguna saw 11 inches or more

NBC Universal, Inc.

San Diego County mountains saw measurable snow for the first time in months thanks to Tuesday's big storm.

A camera positioned on the roof of Laguna Mountain Lodge offered low-elevation dwellers a glimpse of the steady snowfall. The lodge, which sits at about 6,000 feet, and Sunrise Highway were both blanketed white.

Snow covered Mount Laguna for the first time since a strong multi-day storm in March of this year.

“This county is magical,” said self-proclaimed weather tourist Kevin Bray. “I came up here specifically for the snow.”

The Logan Heights man brought his dog Salty Bear to hike one of the snow-covered trails on Mount Laguna Wednesday morning.

The National Weather Service in San Diego said 2 inches of snow fell on the lodge. One inch fell in Julian, which was enough to freeze the roads and force the county to cancel school on Wednesday. By mid-day Wednesday, the snow was all but gone. The town saw dozens of visitors, as opposed to the hundreds that would flock to town if the snow stuck around.

“The area is just very beautiful,” said Joan Krause. “We were a little disappointed with yesterday’s rain because it was a deluge.”

Krause and her husband are regulars from Ohio. Julian is always on their itinerary, snow or not.

“The town is quaint. The apple pie is good,” smiled Krause.

An inch of snow also dusted Birch Hill on Palomar Mountain, which sits at 5,700 feet, the NWS said.

The San Diego County Department of Public Works said there was snowfall on Palomar Mountain as low as 4,800 feet and sent out a tweet reminding drivers they'd need chains if they want to go and see it for themselves. Chains were also required on Montezuma Valley Road near Borrego Springs.

If you're headed up the mountain to play in the snow, consider these tips when planning your trip:

Meteorologist Ana Cristina Sanchez shares seven tips you should consider before heading off to the snow.

And these shots of Sunrise Highways after December snowfall in 2019 give you an idea of the traffic you could face if you're making the trip.

The first storm of the winter brought snow to San Diego's mountains -- and a lot of traffic. Caltrans had to shut down the ramps from I-8 onto Sunrise Highway on Dec. 29, 2020, because there was "too much" traffic and snow.

Tuesday's snowfall was the county's first since a big storm -- one much stronger than this week's -- hit San Diego in March. Nearly four feet of snow combined fell on our county's highest peaks during that storm:

  • Julian: 18 inches (5,000 feet in elevation)
  • Palomar Mountain - Birch Hill: 17 inches (5,645 feet in elevation)
  • Mount Laguna: 11 inches (6,000 feet in elevation)

Other Southern California areas saw big snow from that storm included Lake Arrowhead with 18 inches, Bear Mountain Summit with 13 to 18 inches, Snow Valley with 12 inches, and Idyllwild with 5 to 8 inches, the NWS said.

The snow started falling mid-afternoon in Julian, reports NBC 7's Melissa Adan.
Contact Us