Los Angeles Snowfall of 1949: Rare Historical Photos Show LA Blanketed by SnowThe Los Angeles snow of 1949 was a rare and unusual event in the city’s history. On January 9th and 10th, 1949, a snowstorm hit the city and the surrounding areas, causing chaos and excitement among the residents.

The snowstorm was caused by a weather pattern that brought cold air from Canada and Alaska down to Southern California, where it met with a low-pressure system moving in from the Pacific Ocean

The result was a snowstorm that dropped up to 4 inches of snow in some areas of Los Angeles, and even more in some of the surrounding mountains.

The snow caused widespread disruption and excitement, with schools closing, highways becoming blocked, and people flocking to parks and hillsides to play in the snow.

Many residents, especially those who had never experienced snow before, were thrilled by the novelty of the event, while others were less happy about the disruption to their daily lives.

The newspapers of the time reported extensively on the snowstorm, with headlines such as “Snowstorm Paralyzes Southland,” “Southland Shivers Under Blanket of Snow,” and “Record Snowfall Delights and Inconveniences Angelenos.”

Cars line up on Sepulveda Boulevard in Sherman Oaks while waiting for ice to melt before driving over a hill to the Beverly Hills area on January 12, 1949. Cars with chains were allowed through. At noon the road was opened. (Los Angeles Times)

In 1999, on the 50th anniversary of the 1949 snowfall, Los Angeles Times columnist Cecilia Rasmussen wrote:

On Jan. 10, 1949, in the middle of the worst housing shortage in Los Angeles history, more than half an inch of snow covered the Civic Center. The San Fernando Valley was pelted with the unfamiliar white stuff for three days, accumulating almost a foot.

The Rose Bowl was transformed into “a dishpan full of milk,” by one account. An Alhambra hardware store put up a sign that said, “Snow Plows for Rent — Hurry!” A snowman appeared in Eagle Rock, wearing a sombrero, and the city of Reno, Nev., sent L.A. a snow shovel.

Other fun-seekers toted sleds, inner tubes — almost every imaginable means of transport on a coat of snow that fell soft as confectioner’s sugar as far away as Catalina.

Angelenos were forced to exchange their shorts and coconut oil for bulky jackets and gloves as flatland suburbanites scraped ice off windshields and downtown workers cursed the city’s hilly terrain.

The rare snowfall produced wondrous vistas and unexpected difficulties, as some motorists besieged with frozen radiators were trapped in their cars in Laurel Canyon for several hours. Farther north, the engine of crooner Bing Crosby’s green Cadillac froze near Castroville, where a kind motorist gave him a lift into town.

Snowball fights were fun and harmless, until three teenage boys began throwing snowballs at a streetcar stopped at Washington Boulevard and Hoover Street, breaking a window and injuring a woman passenger.

An automobile parked near the Rose Bowl at Linda Vista Avenue and Lida Street sits covered with snow. (Al Humphreys / Los Angeles Times)

Patricia and James Perkins of Riverside, like most members of a new generation, see snow for the first time. (Los Angeles Times)

Snow covered a home on Opechee Way in the Verdugo Woodlands area of North Glendale. (Los Angeles Times)

Mrs. and Mr. Harvey Tibbals put the finishing touches on a snowman outside their La Crescenta Avenue home in Montrose. (Los Angeles Times)

Women rolling a giant snowball in a front yard in Bel-Air. (Clay Willcockson / Los Angeles Times)

Snow falls on Santa Barbara Avenue near Crenshaw Boulevard in South Los Angeles. In 1983, Santa Barbara Avenue was renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. (Frank Brown / Los Angeles Times)

Ice on Gilmore Street in Van Nuys forced vehicles to travel at a crawl. (Los Angeles Times)

Man in Riverside examines snow on citrus trees on January 10, 1949. (Los Angeles Times)

A snowed-under walnut orchard on North Hazeltine Avenue in Van Nuys takes on a New England look. (Los Angeles Times)

A veritable wonderland greeted residents of Glendale early January 11, 1949, when they looked out windows and wondered what happened. (Los Angeles Public Library)

The 1949 snow storm transformed the San Fernando Valley community of Canoga Park into a winter wonderland. (USC Libraries)

Rocky chaparral foothills stand above a snowy Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena/La Cañada Flintridge. (NASA/JPL Archive)

The San Gabriel community of Monterey Park after a 1949 snowstorm. (The Monterey Park History Collection)

Ladies building a snowman in North Hollywood. (Los Angeles Public Library)

A snowball fight on Valley streets in January 1949. (Los Angeles Public Library)

Skiing in La Crescenta. (Los Angeles Public Library)

Stalled out motorists in Coldwater Canyon. (Los Angeles Public Library)

Snow covers the Huntington Hotel in Pasadena. Their slogan was “Where sunshine spends the winter.” (Los Angeles Public Library)

People playing in a Los Angeles city park. (Los Angeles Public Library)

(Photo credit: Los Angeles Public Library / Los Angeles Times / Wikimedia Commons).