Opinion: California’s unusual blizzard? Snow-way


Credit: Elyssa Grillo

WSPN’s Jessi Dretler and guest reporter Elyssa Grillo discuss the implications of snow in California and what this snow means for our ever-changing climate.

Elyssa Grillo and Jessi Dretler

You might think that it never snows in sunny Southern California. Well, believe it or not, it snowed this past February and early March in the Golden State. Known for its warm weather, California wasn’t expecting any snow this year. Californians were torn between excitement to experience their first snow storm since 1989, and a sense of worry when they thought about what snow in California meant for the planet. This snowfall is one of many extreme weather pattern changes in our climate, not just in California, but all around the world.

While southern Californians were intrigued by the possibility of snowfall, it confused and worried them. The mountains surrounding the Hollywood sign and Los Angeles were due to have a blizzard, and the mountain range was blanketed by powdery snow by February 25. All types of freezing precipitation even reached the coastal parts of California, including graupel, and hail. The snow on California’s hot, southern beaches was a rare but mesmerizing sight as citizens embraced the sudden switch in their climate.

This astounding weather event brought multiple benefits to California. Many children and adults living in southern California had never seen snow in California before this, or even seen snow in real life. The new experience had many Californians playing outside in the snow and enjoying it while it lasted. They were also happy that the snow relieved some of the issues that had been brought on because of previous droughts in southern California. These brief, snowy conditions could lead to a more humid summer and hopefully less wildfires in the future.

Obviously, this unnatural blizzard came with many problems, too. There was so much heavy snow in the northern areas of California that avalanches occurred, leaving buildings ruined and towns extremely damaged.

Just like here in Massachusetts, when the blizzard’s treacherous driving conditions dangerous for people traveling across the state. People living in southern California had no experience driving on snowy roads, so they were advised not to go out and major roads were closed down for a day or two in the most affected regions of California.

Blizzards may be fun in the moment, watching snow blanket the ground, but sometimes they can be extremely dangerous. After the California blizzard, one woman even died. She was trying to help someone on the road in Big Bear Lake, California, when she was hit by another car.

As Northerners who have lived through many blizzards, we can’t relate to the surprise of receiving snow in the winter, unlike the residents of California. However, this past winter we’ve experienced unusual weather patterns ourselves, ranging from the usual snowfall to temperatures as warm as sixty degrees. These shifts in weather patterns are unsettling, because we know that climate change is only going to get worse as global warming progresses.

What does the snow in California mean for Earth and humans? It could indicate the start of a global weather change. Places in the south are getting colder due to climate change, while places in the north are increasingly warmer. These weather patterns could be the first big signs of the Earth reacting to climate change. We have to be sure to take care of our Earth so we can prevent global warming from getting worse.

These climate changes are just the tip of the melting iceberg of what’s to come with the Earth’s changing atmosphere. Although this snowfall was exciting, we must take note of what it could mean for the Earth. Humans need to adapt their lifestyles to counteract the worsening global conditions.