Record-Breaking Snowfall Hits Northern California

An unusual spring storm has set a new snowfall record in Northern California, causing widespread disruption over the weekend. This cold front, originating from the Gulf of Alaska, dropped temperatures and brought significant snow down to as low as 2,500 feet, leading to a winter weather advisory across the region from Eureka to the Lake Tahoe basin.

The heavy snowfall, which started on Saturday, forced the closure of Interstate 80 in both directions for several hours, significantly affecting weekend traffic. The UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab reported that the storm deposited 26.4 inches of snow at its Donner Pass field station in just 24 hours, marking it the snowiest day of the season. This surpassed the previous record of 23.8 inches set on March 3.

Snow totals were impressive across the board, with the National Weather Service’s Sacramento office reporting up to 31 inches at Lower Lassen Peak, 26 inches at Palisades Summit, and 22 inches at Soda Springs Ski Resort. The abundance of fresh powder attracted large numbers of skiers to the slopes of Palisades Tahoe, where lines extended nearly a mile to the lifts.

Despite the challenging conditions, resort staff worked diligently to prepare the slopes for what they described on Twitter as “one of the best May powder days in recent memory.” However, they advised visitors to expect delayed openings as they continued to manage the aftermath of the storm.

The storm also had unexpected effects in less typical locations. In the Bay Area, a family from Berkeley had ventured out for a camping trip on Mount Diablo. Despite the challenging weather, which resulted in some waterlogged tents, they experienced a surprising turn of events as snow began to fall during their visit. “To our very great surprise and glee, we ended up in a full-on snow storm,” one camper recounted, lasting over two hours.

While the National Weather Service’s Bay Area office was unable to confirm snow accumulation due to the likely quick dissipation, the event left a memorable impression on those who witnessed it, adding an extraordinary element to their spring adventure.