Los Angeles is known for its warm, comfortable weather, perfect for enjoying the beach or lounging on a patio. However, you may be wondering what it’s like in the winter, how cold it gets, and if it ever snows.
Does it snow in Los Angeles? Yes, it snows in Los Angeles, but it’s rare. Flurries have occurred throughout history, and many have claimed snowfall within the city, although minimal. Snow is more common in the nearby mountains, such as Mount Baldy and the San Gabriel Mountains.
This article covers snow-related facts about Los Angeles. Read on to learn about the city’s rare snow occurrences, the best places to experience it, and tips on what to expect.
Does It Get Cold in Los Angeles?
The winter season (December to March) is cool, partly cloudy, long, and wet, with December as the coldest month. It averages 48°F on its coldest days.
Why Is Snow Rare in Los Angeles?
Los Angeles has a Mediterranean climate, smoothing out the city’s extremes in weather.
The average low temperature in Los Angeles also lingers around 48°F, and snow only sticks to the ground when the temperature is 32°F.
Similarly, the city’s average precipitation during winter (2.8 inches in January) isn’t cold enough to turn it into snow. While the sky may be cold, the snow melts into rain once it reaches the warm ground.
Unless the moist marine air collides with an extreme Polar Jet Stream and brings temperatures below freezing, Los Angeles isn’t blanketed by snow.
Los Angeles Snow History
Snow may be rare in Los Angeles, but the largest city in California had its share of snowfall across the city’s history. There were snow flurries In 1882, 1913, 1921, 1922, 1926, and 2009, but they didn’t accumulate measurable amounts.
However, here are some notable Los Angeles snows.
The rare snowfall surprised Los Angeles locals in January 1882, despite the two previous snowfalls in the preceding twenty years, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Traces of snow fell in downtown LA on January 30 and March 11.
The City of Angels experienced 2 inches of snow within 24 hours from January 15 to 16, the first accumulation in downtown Los Angeles since 1882.
Students of Pasadena City College had a blast during this rare snow event.
There was snow across LA in February 1944, covering the downtown area and the beach.
An inch of snow blanketed downtown Los Angeles (like Echo Park Avenue) from January 10 to 12, brought by a 3-day snowstorm. Accumulating up to 12 inches in higher elevations, this was the last measurable accumulation in downtown LA as of 2019.
In January, the 101 freeway through the Cahuenga Pass became a skid-prone zone. Topanga Canyon Road and Sepulveda Boulevard were closed until a snowplow arrived.
However, there were no measurable accumulations in downtown Los Angeles apart from flurries from the 3-inch wet snow that fell on Southern California.
Granada Hills residents witnessed snow on the ground, a rare winter experience across 50 years.
In February, Los Angeles’ metro area experienced 5 inches of snowfall from the San Fernando Valley to Thousand Oaks.
West Los Angeles and Malibu received very light snow dusting on January 17.
Latest Snowfall in Los Angeles
In February 2019, LA urban zones like Eagle Rock, Pasadena, Malibu, Northridge, and West Hollywood recorded snow dustings for the first time since 1962. Snow also fell in the Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu, including the nearby communities of Thousand Oaks, Calabasas, and Westlake Village.
Other unusual places where snow fell included the San Bernardino and San Gabriel mountains and low elevations of 1,000 feet in some parts of greater Los Angeles. However, none fell in the downtown area.
How To Prepare For Snow In Los Angeles
Snow may be rare in LA, but it pays to be prepared when snow does fall. Here are some basic tips:
What To Expect
Roads can be unsafe, especially when there’s a blizzard. Be careful and drive within speed limits.
Phone batteries drain quickly when it’s cold, so keep your phone near your chest (a warm part of your body). Also, use your device only when necessary.
Ski trails can be tricky. Buddy up if you’re going skiing, especially if you’re trying an unfamiliar terrain. A map comes in handy, too.
What To Wear
A winter coat may not be necessary if it’s snowing in Los Angeles, but do dress in layers, which you can take off by layer depending on your resilience to the chilly weather.
Consider a light long sleeve for the base, followed by a mid-layer of polyester. A zippered jacket with a hood can be a third layer, then topped by a waterproof garment.
However, stay away from cotton. The material holds moisture, which can turn into ice when the temperature drops.
Jeans, hoodies, and a light jacket will do fine if you’re used to the cold.
Where To See Snow In Los Angeles
Only mountain peaks near Los Angeles experience snow from late October to early December. Where should you go to see snow in LA? Here are a few:
Mount Baldy, peaking at 8,600 feet, is the closest snow ‘play area’ to Los Angeles, with its snow-covered tip visible throughout LA.
It has a tubing park offering 90-minute tubing sessions and round-trip scenic lift rides on the Sugar Pine chairlift.
San Gabriel Mountains
Mountain High East Ski Resort is between 8,200 feet and 6,600 feet of the San Gabriel Mountains. It has 11 kilometers of slope, different difficulty-level trails, and 5 ski lifts.
San Bernardino Mountains
Snow Summit Ski Resort is among the popular snowboarding and skiing destinations in Los Angeles, located about 100 miles from the downtown area.
It offers 29 kilometers of slope for winter sports activities, with designated trails for every skiing skill and 11 ski lifts to transport you up the slopes.
Snow Activities in LA
Mount Baldy has 26 trails, four ski lifts, and a tubing park on top of the 20-minute long Sugar Pine Chairlift.
Apart from being a year-round disc golf destination, Mount Baldy also has zip lines and tent cabins.
LA Kings Holiday Ice comes alive every year in LA. A spectacular Christmas Tree sits at the center of this outdoor rink, where you can skate around and be captivated by a colorful display of LED holiday light show on huge screens surrounding the plaza.
Hike through Mount Wilson in Angeles National Forest, a peak of over 5,700 feet. You can also explore the Mount Wilson Observatory, particularly the 100-inch telescope, Astronomical Museum, and the CHARA Interferometry Exhibit.
Indulge in Ramen
Los Angeles is home to the best ramen in the US!
Tsujita serves tsukemen, traditional dipping ramen where your broth is served separately from the noodles.
Daikokuya serves Chijire-style egg noodles in a rich tonkotsu soup with kurobuta pork belly strips.
Kazan is Beverly Hills’ ramen spot recognized by the 2021 Michelin guide for its soba ramen; a wheat-based noodle tonkotsu broth topped with truffle oil.
Take a Scenic Stroll
Frazier Park in Los Padres National Forest is a mountain community where you can experience all four seasons.
It’s a 28-acre community park lined with California oak trees and a natural spring-fed pond amidst mountain views and a rural town feel.
Perched at almost 5,000 feet, Frazier Park gets light to medium snow dusting during winter.
Drink By The Fire
Los Angeles is home to the best fireplace bars where you can cozy up while keeping warm against the winter chill.
Choose among the Old Man Bar at the back of Culver City’s Hatchel Hall, The Wellesbourne, which resembles Shakespeare’s hometown, and the New Orleans-inspired Sassafras.
Conclusion: Does It Snow in Los Angeles?
It does snow in Los Angeles, and it’s among the few US cities wherein, during winter, you can do some morning surfing and afternoon skiing.
While snow in LA is rare, the city is surrounded by mountain peaks that are snowcapped several months a year. Drive up to Big Bear to see snow up close or indulge in popular skiing destinations like the Snow Valley Mountain Ski Resort.
Snowing or not, Los Angeles offers many adventures for people with varied interests. From its Mediterranean climate to its diverse culture, Los Angeles is a travel destination worth visiting on your next winter adventure.