California has always been the Golden State, famous for its gold digging and sunshine. But the current drought, talk of climate change, and memories of past winters here have us hoping for more seasonal weather. The Winter Olympics even have us thinking about snow in the Castro. After all, we enjoy a bit of drama, and what’s more dramatic than snow in San Francisco?
It’s actually snowed- in any measurable kind of way- at least eleven times in our city since such things have been recorded. The Golden Gate Weather Service (GGWS) documented the following events: 1856 (2.5”), 1868 (2.0”), 1882 (3.5”), 1884 (1.5”), 1887 (3.7”), 1888 (0.1”), 1896 (1.0”), 1932 (0.8”), 1952 (0.3”), 1962 (3.0”) and 1976 (1.0” with up to 5” at the top of Twin Peaks).
The 1882 event happened on New Year’s Eve when, according to the GGWS, “snow fell for 5 hours, reaching 3.5 inches deep in the downtown area.” Telegraph and telephone services were affected by downed wires, and a blanket of ice damaged flowerbeds and gardens in Golden Gate Park.
The all time record snowfall of 3.7” occurred around this time of year, on February 5, 1887. The Chronicle reported that a toboggan club formed as the snow was coming down. The club even had a “trial run down Haight Street hill.”
Many of you probably remember the February 6, 1976 “flurry.” One member of our team recalls playing in the snow that day, such as it was, and making tiny snowballs with the light dusting that melted not too long afterwards.
There is some debate about whether or not it snowed here in early February of 2011. The New York Times reported that “residents here saw snow late Friday, a long-absent visitor.” The Chronicle and MSNBC, on the other hand, mentioned that there was “no snow day for SF” and “the dusting would not count toward official records that show the last measurable snowfall in the area 35 years ago.”
Snow has been hauled into San Francisco for various reasons. In 2005, Olympic gold medal winner Jonny Moseley- the first Puerto Rican to become a member of the U.S. Ski Team- celebrated his 30th birthday with a memorable ski jump on Fillmore Street. Snow was also brought into the city for the ICER AIR skiing and snowboarding competition at AT&T Park and for a 2011 family snow slope across from City Hall at Civic Center Plaza.
But what of the Castro? Our search of related photos confirmed snow was seen in the Castro and Noe Valley during the disco era 1976 snowfall. Residents really got a view looking up at Twin Peaks, where a “dirty snowman” reigned the day.