As snow fell on the Valley floor on Wednesday, residents took to social media to document the rare event.
Snow was sighted in Friant, Fowler, Laton, Clovis, and Porterville, although there were spirited debates about what was snow and what was hail.
I saw one lady’s post of hail. She’s pretty insistent it was snow. I was a few minutes north of Fresno tonight in Friant and there was definitely hail. Then about 15 min later there was definitely this snow for about half an hour. Not sure if fresno actually saw any snow. pic.twitter.com/8fClRWwKTr
— Kel in Cali (@KinCali1) February 23, 2023
A light blanket of snow covered the ground in Fowler on Wednesday night. https://t.co/LuN8rAwPJ2
— ABC30 Fresno (@ABC30) February 23, 2023
Some light showers contained snow pellets along with rain about an hour ago near Porterville! Anyone else experiencing snow in the Valley or at elevations 1000 ft or below?
— NWS Hanford (@NWSHanford) February 22, 2023
I know they said there was a possibility, and here it is! Snow in the heart of the great San Joaquin Valley – Laton, CA. What do you think? Slushy hail or snow? Let’s let the experts decide. Comment below. #snow #CAwx @NWSHanford @snodgrss @KMJNOW @KMPHFOX26 pic.twitter.com/A3Ltll4Krg
— Andy Zonneveld (@andyzonneveld) February 22, 2023
— Fresno Farm Bureau (@fcfb_ag) February 23, 2023
Watch: Hail or Snow in Clovis?
Fresno Could See up to 2 Inches of Rain
The National Weather Service in Hanford says that the snow elevation level will rise to 2,000 feet Thursday afternoon and to 5,000 feet on Friday. But a wallop of rain is expected in Fresno and surrounding communities starting at 10 p.m. Thursday and totaling up to 2 inches when skies clear Sunday night.
Strong winds remain in the forecast, and heavy snow is predicted in the mountains.
“The Sierra Nevada will also see extreme impacts due to impressive snow amounts and strong winds,” NWS said in its Thursday morning forecast discussion. “Elevations above 5000 feet Friday morning through Saturday afternoon could see as high as 5-6 feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada. 3-4 feet of snow may fall above 5000 feet in the Tehachapi Mountains in the same time frame.”
— Olen Hogenson KMPH (@olenhogenson) February 23, 2023
Watch: China Peak Snow Plow in Action
On Wednesday, Fresno County officials warned residents to drive carefully and avoid mountain travel.
In the next few days, Fresno County will be experiencing additional rain, wind and snowstorms, all of which can cause hazardous conditions, especially on the roads. pic.twitter.com/EoVEvktJKD
— County of Fresno (@FresnoCountyCA) February 23, 2023
Road to Giant Forest Closed
The Generals Highway is closed between Hospital Rock and Highway 180 because of the winter storm, thus making it impossible to reach Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park. Call (559) 565-3341 and press 1, 1 for current road conditions.
Blizzard Warning for Los Angeles County
For the first time since 1989, NWS issued a blizzard warning through Saturday for Southern California mountains. Forecasters predicted “multiple rounds of new snowfall” with accumulations of up to 3 to 5 feet.
A blizzard warning also is in effect through Saturday for higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada, where forecasters said conditions could include several feet of snow blown by 60-mph gusts and wind chill could drop the temperature to minus 40 degrees.
In addition, dangerous weather trapped drivers on icy roads, knocked out power to hundreds of thousands, and grounded multiple flights from California through the northern Plains on Thursday morning.
Rescuers tried to reach people stranded in vehicles but high winds and drifting snow created a “near-impossible situation” for them, said Sgt. Jeremy Beck of the Wyoming Highway Patrol.
In the Pacific Northwest, high winds and heavy snow in the Cascade Mountains prevented search teams from reaching the bodies of three climbers killed in an avalanche on Washington’s Colchuck Peak over the weekend.
(Associated Press contributed to this article.)