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Snow, 57 Years Ago

Today in Weather History: With all the snow (last weekend and more opportunities later this week), we turn our attention to something we haven’t seen much of in the last few years – snowstorms.

Not many people locally will remember this day 57 years ago because of the weather. January 15, 1952 was just an ordinary day for the citizens of the State of Indiana, but further out west, a winter storm was raging. For six days the snow fell, leaving a blanket of snow and ice across the region. I-40 (an interstate at the time between Lake Tahoe and the Sierras) was shut down for an entire month (30 days) as a result, but the storm didn’t only affect cars.

A train got stuck just east of the Yuba Gap. This train is sometimes referred to as the “Pride of the Southern Pacific Train fleet” and the “world’s most superlative train” – although more commonly known by it’s official name of the “City of San Francisco”. This state-of-the-art (for the time) train got stuck in a snow slide, and the wheels slipped on the tracks due to the ice and snow. During a lull in the storm, the Coast Guard airdropped food and medical supplies to the passengers/crew. All 196 passengers were safely rescued from the train when the storm passed on January 16, but one of the crew members suffered a heart attack from his efforts to free the train.

This major snowstorm left records in it’s wake – single-storm snowfall records were set in Marlette Lake, NV (44 inches) and Sun Valley, ID (52 inches). The most impressive record set by this storm? A total of 149 inches in Lake Tahoe, CA.


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