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→
In 1859 residents of the Honey Lake Valley experienced one of the most dreaded winter weather conditions, a pogonip—the Indians term for an ice fog. The term loosely translates into “white death,” for many Indians caught pneumonia and died. This fog settles in the mountain valleys. One can ascend a few hundred feet above the valley floor, bask in sunny temperatures and overlook a sea of clouds. Pogonips vary in severity. A mild one will consist of persistent endless fog with sub-freezing temperatures. The worst variety is when it turns into a literal ice fog, coating everything. The first day can be spectacular with ice crystal formations on everything. After several successive days of those bone chilling temperatures, it quickly loses its appeal. The pogonip of 1859 was one of severest on record. The heavy cold fog lasted six weeks. So much frost accumulated on the grasses that cattle could not eat it. In addition, since the first settlers had been accustomed to mild winters, very little hay was put up, and a great many cattle starved to death that winter.
Today brings a smile to face, for it marks at least one turning point of the winter season, even though it takes a few weeks to actually see it progress. One of the things I dread about winter are the short daylight hours and now knowing that the pendulum will start working its way to bring more daylight. Actually, for those serious folks, on December 15, the sunset locally not starts to get later, by a minute on that date. However, the sunrise keeps getting later, and does not reverse the trend until January 9.
Around these parts, historically the coldest and snowiest months are just ahead in January and February. Nearly all the record breaking snowfalls occur in mid-January. For those interested in forthcoming storms and especially the snow conditions I recommend The Tahoe Daily Snow. On a final note, most forecasters call for the first El Nino storms to begin sometime in the week of January 11.
Finally, those interested in Eagle Lake conditions can see the web cam at Spauldings here.
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Note: While I am getting around better, I still have a long way to go. Some might have noticed that the published October Preview has deviated from what was intended. My apologies, but scanning images to accompany topics, has presented a challenge, due to my ongoing recovery from a broken hip. Please have patience sooner or later the intended topic will appear.
It is only fitting that a week ago, I attended the Eagle Lake Interagency Board meeting and yesterday’s Lassen County Planning Commission meeting. Since so much focus has been with drought levels of Eagle Lake, and groundwater basins, I thought let’s take a look at the other extreme. Continue reading Eagle Lake’s Historic High Level→
Weather prognosticators are an interesting bunch. Last year was a record crop of acorns, I don’t recall ever seeing so many. Some people took that as a sign that we were in for a heavy-duty winter. We had the opposite, it being fourth driest on record. Continue reading Historic Weather Predictions→
For the first day of summer, I thought I would share this picture of Constantia taken on June 21, 1907. Unfortunately, I do not possess any other documentation and no reference made in the newspaper, other that it was unseasonably cold. I went through my various notes of Phil Hall, who provided me with the photograph. His parents at that time resided at Constantia. However, anyone who has resided around these parts, have experienced numerous strange weather events. In a related matter, Claude Wemple told me in a 1978 interview that Milford received four inches of snow on July 4, 1902.