A potent winter storm slammed Southern California on December 26, delivering heavy rain, snow, and even a tornado. The storm brought between 1 and 3.5 inches (2.5 and 9 centimeters) of rain to low-elevation areas. Several inches—or feet in some places—of snow fell on higher ground.
On December 28, 2019, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this natural-color image of snow stretching across the region. Note there is a line of scattered clouds—not snow—over the Los Angeles Basin that extends south along the coast.
Mountain High Resorts (elevation 8,200 feet/2500 meters) in Los Angeles County reported 36 inches of snow, prompting the popular ski and snowboard area to close temporarily. In the San Bernardino Mountains, Big Bear Lake nearly broke an all-time winter snowfall record after receiving 18 inches of snow.
An EF0 tornado touched down briefly in Ventura County and caused minor damage. However, the storm system as a whole caused many road closures and plenty of traffic woes. In Joshua Tree National Park, the rare snowfall had a more calming effect. It delighted onlookers by coating the park’s distinctive spiny yucca plants with a blanket of white.
NASA Earth Observatory images by Lauren Dauphin, using MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview. Caption by Adam Voiland.