The 2015-16 El Niño arrived last week, and while much of Southern California was drenched in rain, snow covered the Hill. According to the National Weather Service, Poway had nearly 6 inches of rain and Lytle Creek received nearly 7 inches.
Locally, from Wednesday night through Thursday, Jan. 8, the rain turned to snow. The U.S. Forest Service’s Keenwild Ranger Station recorded 3.8 inches of rain during the period and NWS reported that about 13 inches of snow fell in town. Pine Cove recorded 3.6 inches of rain and about 18 inches of snow.
Prior to the snowstorm, NWS issued daily winter storm warnings for the Hill from Tuesday through Thursday. The snow level was as low at 3,900 feet. According to NWS, 30 inches of snow fell on Mt. San Jacinto Peak.
While Southern California is a favorite vacation and recreation site for snowbirds, the snow on the Hill was a magnet for thousands of visitors Saturday and Sunday. Turnouts along Highway 243 were packed with parked cars, while the occupants were sledding and throwing snowballs. Many drivers simply pulled to the side of Highway 243 both days so people could romp and play in the snow.
Rainfall totals, since July 1, the beginning of the rain year, already exceed the long-term average for rain through the end of January and also are more than the total rain for 2012-13 and 2013-14.
During the storms, power outages affected several Hill neighborhoods, including Fern Valley and Pine Cove, as the wet and heavy snow pulled down and broke many tree limbs and branches, which fell on power lines during this period.