Tag Archives: Weather

Red River’s Snow Roller

Red River’s snow roller in action. Courtesy of Calvin Sharp
On January 2, 1916, it began to snow, and snow and snow for nearly three weeks. At Westwood it was reported that they fourteen feet of snow. Resident Manager, Fletcher Walker called it a “blue snow.” From this particular snowstorm, standard snow removal techniques of Westwood streets were no match to combat the deep snow. Someone came up with ingenuous idea to build a snow roller to compact the snow. The Westwood correspondent to the “Lassen Weekly Mail,” observed, “The immense snow roller is in successful operation on the streets. It leaves a compressed trail wide enough for teams to pass. Eight to twelve horses have been used to haul it through the streets and the affair makes an interesting ensemble.”

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Lake Almanor Cloud Seeding

Lake Almanor, 1926.
From time to time discussions have been held whether the cloud seeding in the Lake Almanor Basin area by Pacific Gas & Electric Company affects the areas to the east. In 1979, Lassen County officials thought the cloud seeding was part of the drought problem in southern Lassen County. In October 1979, Henry LaPlante of PG&E stated that the company has been treating selected storm systems for more than 25 years. He said the intent of the seeding was to increase the high elevation snowpack. Furthermore, LaPlatnte wrote, “There is no scientific evidence which indicates that cloud seeding activities in our Almanor area reduces the amount of precipitation in any other area.

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Dry Decembers

Main Street, Susanville, January 1938.
Are dry Decembers a prelude to a dry winter? Record snowfalls occur in January, and some times the preceding December was drier than normal and some times not. I will share a bit wisdom. As a young naive lad, I once asked my Uncle Bob Rea what his winter prediction. His reply, “I will tell you in March.”

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Winter Weather Records

Main Street, Susanville, January 1938.

Lately, I have received inquiries how this winter’s precipitation figures compares with previous wetter than normal years. Of course, it is still too early, since a lot can happen in February and March. The winter of 1937-38 witnessed some of heaviest snowfalls. It was also one of the wettest on record with nearly 40 inches of precipitation! The spring runoff was tremendous and filled Honey Lake for the first time in twenty years. In certain ways, Honey Lake is a good indicator as to what occurs from one winter to the next.

By spring time, I will provide more, especially to see what we experience in the short term.  Stay tuned.

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The Floods of 1955

Southern Pacific's railroad trestle at South Lassen Street, December 1955.
Southern Pacific’s railroad trestle at South Lassen Street, December 1955.

The floods of December 1955, locally and throughout California was a notable event to say the least. It began with warm rains on December 15th and by December 20th, 4.41 inches had fallen in Susanville. The snow elevation remained high, and on December 20th there was  21 inches of snow on Fredonyer summit.  The rain continued turning the Susan River into a raging menace. Conditions worsened as the river brought assorted debris with the floodwaters. The debris became a major obstruction when it collided with the Southern Pacific’s railroad trestle at Susanville’s Lassen Street. On December 23rd Marvin D. Coltran, a member of Southern Pacific’s bridge gang fell into the water there. Efforts were made to reach him, but the river’s swift current swept him away. Continue reading The Floods of 1955

A Janesville Windstorm

Janesville Masonic Hall,circa 1912.
Janesville Masonic Hall,circa 1912.

The residents of Janesville became giddy when the news broke in late August, 1910 that their local masonic lodge was to build a new hall, next to the Janesville Hotel. By September plans were underway to hold a dance in the new hall scheduled for November 4.

By early October, the skeletal two-story frame of the building had been erected. Then on Monday, October 3rd, Charlie Wilbur, the contractor told this crew to stop work, due to the poor weather conditions, especially the high gusty winds. Then out of nowhere, gust hit the structure practically demolishing it.  The next day Wilbur’s crew were busy picking up the pieces and work resumed on the building. However, the celebratory dance scheduled in November had to be postponed for another time.

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A winter weather forecast

A view of Diamond Mountain, from Lassen High School's agriculture fields, 1916. Courtesy of D.M. Durst Collection
A view of Diamond Mountain, from Lassen High School’s agriculture fields, 1916. Courtesy of D.M. Durst Collection

While compiling an article about winter weather for the December issue of the Northern California Traveler, I thought the following would be interest, since Diamond Mountain’s current dusting of snow.

In the local columns of Susanville’s  Lassen Advocate of October 22, 1909, the paper reported: “The weather prophets say if the thin coating of snow on the summit of Diamond Mountain lasts any considerable time without melting, we may expect a light snowfall this winter. Some of those weather prophets have been watching this indicator for thirty years or more, and ought to know.” Those prophets were correct in their observation, as it turned out to be a dry cold winter, most of the Honey Lake Valley was fogged in during the month of January.

As to my prediction, ask me in March.

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Ward Lake

Ward Lake, October 26, 1969. Photo by D.B. Martin
Ward Lake, October 26, 1969. Photo by D.B. Martin

In 1889, the Balls Canyon Reservoir Company employed surveyor, Frank Gates Ward (1857-1895), to survey a dam and reservoir site along Secret Creek where it enters the Honey Lake Valley. In 1889-90, the first reservoir was constructed. In February 1890, a flood washed out that dam. As one observer noted, the waters of Secret Creek began rising at a rate of two feet an hour and within three hours the 27 foot high structure, that measured 150 feet in length, was swept away. The company planned to rebuild but never did. In 1895, Edward T. Purser took over the project and a new reservoir was constructed, along with a twenty-mile ditch to his property near Wendel.

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The Winter of 1861-62

Can you imagine this pastoral scene between Susanville and Johnstonville, was once flooded with over three feet of water.
Can you imagine this pastoral scene between Susanville and Johnstonville, was once flooded with over  three feet of water.

The winter of 1861-62, is one for the record books. Thankfully, the A.L. Tunison diaries provide a glimpse of what happened locally and elsewhere.

The previous two winters had been dry. By the end of November 1861 there was a foot of snow in the Honey Lake Valley. Then on December 8 and 9, heavy rains. On December 18, Tunison receives news of flood damage elsewhere and writes, “Good flood in Sacramento Valley. Water 15 feet deep in Sacramento City. Boats run on Main Street in Marysville. Great many cattle lost. Slide on Sierra Nevada Mountain at Washoe covered up a quartz mill, injured two men, killed another. Two bridges gone on the Truckee River.” Continue reading The Winter of 1861-62