Snow comes to the desert

Mt San Jacinto capped with snow
Mt San Jacinto capped with snow, seen from Chez Paul

Brrr!

The mountains around the Coachella Valley get caps of snow most winters, but this past weekend was a special treat. The snow line was very low, and so were the temperatures. (This morning it was 42°F when I got up.)

It's been a dry winter with almost no rainfall, and, until the weekend, the mountains were bare. No more! A nasty storm brought high winds and rain to the valley floor and dropped plenty of white stuff on the mountains. At the Palm Springs Tramway, visitors could play in 10 inches of snow, provided they were willing to brave the 15°F temperatures.

I tried to match up the topography with Google Earth, and as best I can tell, the snow line was below 2000 feet and may have been as low as 1500 feet in places.

My friend Ray was here from the Bay Area, so we took a drive into the Mojave National Preserve to see the newly restored Kelso train station and visit the Kelso sand dunes. You learn something new every day: The Kelso dunes are among a few in the world that "boom" when avalanches of sand are set loose.

The drive was also exciting because there was snow on the ground in Morongo Valley and Yucca Valley. We even met snowplows on the highway! And guess what else? Penelope the Prius shows a warning light on the dashboard when outside temperatures are cold enough to cause icy or snowy road conditions! Who would have guessed?

Ray relaxing in the resource room of the Mojave visitor center in the Kelso depot
Ray relaxing in the resource room of the Mojave visitor center in the Kelso depot
Ray taking a snap at the Kelso sand dunes
Ray taking a snap at the Kelso sand dunes

For more pictures of the snow and the dunes, click on the slideshow link in the sidebar.