San Diego’s snowy history — and some AI imagination

San Diego won’t have a white Christmas this year, but the city has been covered in snow before.

An AI-generated image of the San Diego Skyline with snow

We had to ask AI what a snowy San Diego skyline would look like.

Created via Canva AI Image Generator

Dreaming of a white Christmas? San Diegans are very unlikely to wake up to a snowy surprise. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates a 0% chance of the city seeing snow on the holiday — and the National Weather Service forecasts warm, dry temps.

It would take a Christmas miracle to even see a flake this year, but the idea of San Diego County getting snow isn’t too far-fetched. Mountain communities and areas with an elevation above 3,000 ft usually accumulate some snowfall annually. However, longtime San Diegans will remember a few times where it snowed at lower elevation.

Children having a snowball fight during the snow storm in 1967 in San Diego.

Yes, this is San Diego — this pic was taken in 1967.

Photo via San Diego City Clerk Archives

There are only three “official” instances of snow in the City of San Diego, according to NOAA records.

  • Jan. 14, 1882 — Snowflakes fell in San Diego, but there was measurable snowfall in areas like Del Mar, Poway, and El Cajon Valley.
  • Jan. 10 + Jan. 11, 1949 — A snowy mix was recorded at Lindbergh Field; this is the only instance of two consecutive days with snowfall. This storm had greater impacts on other parts of Southern California, like Los Angeles and San Bernardino.
  • Dec. 13, 1967Measurable snow was on the ground, enough that locals could make snowmen and have snowball fights.
SD San Diego History Center 1949 snow Civic Center

This snapshot shows the Civic Center (later San Diego County Administration Building) parking lot at 1600 Pacific Highway with snow on the ground in 1949, although by now, it was more like slush.

This doesn’t mean there haven’t been other snowy reports, but they weren’t recognized by NOAA’s records. The most recent sighting within city limits was in 1990, but it wasn’t recorded at a weather tower. Flurries were also rumored to have appeared in inland valleys in 2008.

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