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L.A. was blanketed by snow 70 years ago. Could history repeat itself today?

L.A. was blanketed by snow 70 years ago. Could history repeat itself today?
Snow fell in Benedict Canyon in 1949. (Los Angeles Times)

Some parts of Southern California got a light dusting of snow Thursday thanks to an unusually cold storm that dropped snow levels to the 1,000-foot mark.

But it was nothing compared with the true snowstorm that hit the city 70 years ago.

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Snow covers the Huntington Hotel in Pasadena in 1949.
Snow covers the Huntington Hotel in Pasadena in 1949. (Los Angeles Public Library)

Here’s a brief history of L.A.’s famous snowstorm from former Times history writer Cecilia Rasmussen:

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.

Residents dust off snow from a car in 1949.
Residents dust off snow from a car in 1949. (Los Angeles Public Library)
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