Rare Snow at the Farm

Posted by on Feb 28, 2011 in Farm Blog | 39 comments

Although it does snow occasionally in the Santa Cruz Mountains, it rarely snows this close to sea level.  In winter we typically get rain, even when it’s snowing up at the Summit.  This weekend though, Curbstone Valley Farm had a rare dusting of SNOW!

It wasn't much, but it actually snowed this weekend!

Throughout late last week meteorologists were touting that San Francisco may be getting its first snow in the City since 1976.  Although a few flakes fell around Twin Peaks on Friday night, sadly the City didn’t get enough snow to really stick.

We knew by Thursday that our chance for snow was a little greater than the City.  We were concerned, especially for our young fruit trees in bloom and bud, so we scrambled that morning to cover the most frost tender trees with frost blankets. Of course, this was only feasible because the trees are still of a manageable height.

By the time we were done, it looked like we'd planted lollipop trees in the orchard

We covered the peaches, and plums, the aprium, as well as the blueberries, and we hid some frost tender plants in containers under row cover over a fallow raised bed in the garden.

Then we waited to see what would happen.  Our weather station saw snow for the first time…

We didn't need a weather station to know it snowed!

The snow per se wasn’t our biggest concern, as temperatures are usually a little warmer during snow fall.  The greatest risk to the plants was the cold that followed.

Blooming fruit trees and ice can be problem

I grew up in snow, and I know that people who endure real snowfalls, requiring shovels and ploughs, think that us coastal Californians seem a little overly paranoid when it comes to even a smattering of sweater weather, but our gardens here along the coast aren’t usually planted with this sort of weather in mind.  A minor heat wave by February is almost expected each winter, and our gardens wake up after a mild winter very early in the growing season.  We don’t usually expect snow and ice!

Late Friday we kept an eye on the area radar and by 11 PM we could see a band of mixed precipitation heading our way that was estimated to arrive by 3:30 AM.

Some of the snowflakes were huge!

The last time we were in snow, we had to drive to get there, so determined not to miss it, I had set the alarm for 3:00 AM.

Snow on the tractor!

The alarm went off, and I peeked outside…to see I’d already missed some snow!  Soon though, it began snowing again!  It’s a good thing we can’t see our neighbors from here. Standing out in the snow, at 3:30 in the morning, people would think we’re crazy!

By 3:00 AM we already had snow on the cars

No, really crazy…we even took the dogs outside to play as the snow was falling!

Our youngest dog (on leash) had never seen snow before. "Mmm...snow is tasty!"

Just enough fell to leave paw prints in the snow

After catching up on some sleep, when we woke we were surprised to see the snow was still there, and even though it was only a light dusting, it was beautiful to see.  There was snow on the roof tops…

Snow on the roof, and a little in the trees

The Redwood trees looked especially beautiful.

Snowy Redwood

The forest looked like it had been dusted with confectioner's sugar

There was snow on the daffodils…

A drooping daffodil in the snow

The orchard fence helped to hold up some of the snowy Dutch Master daffodils

By mid morning though, as the sun rose higher, the snow began to melt away, but it was fun while it lasted.

Once the snow melted, we were happy to see the daffodils standing tall again.

Dutch Master daffodil after the snow

I’m not sure that it snowed at a much lower elevation than we are here.  Our orchard sits just about 500 ft above sea level.

Snow-touched redwood trees near the house

Did you see any snow around the Bay Area this weekend?


  1. It’s funny seeing the grass so green and pretty bright flowers with the snow cover. Love the redwoods! Really pretty! This is the best kind of snow, though…momentary. I do hope your fruit trees fared well and warm temps return soon.
    kimberly´s last post…The Hot! Loud! and Proud!

    • Our fruit trees seem to have come through the cold. Fortunately not all of them had broken dormancy yet. I agree, snow that disappears before you need a shovel, is the best! 🙂

  2. Hi CV,

    How lovely, and what’s even better is that it didn’t stick around very long! Snow is at its best when it only stays for a couple of hours then clears away before it causes any problems 🙂
    That’s how we’re used to it too, sadly the past couple of years it just seems to be getting worse.

    I hope all your plants have survived!
    Liz´s last post…Sunday Safari – end of month

    • I noticed this year that England seemed to be slammed with snow. Although I remember some snowy winters there as a child, it does seem much worse recently. I was grateful this only lasted a few hours!

  3. Ha! If your neighbors saw you out at 3am, wouldn’t that make them crazy, too? Glad you were able to cover the blossoming trees- I bet the poor bees have no idea what’s going on. I sure don’t!
    Christine´s last post…Light Up the Night

    • Good point! Didn’t think of that, they would be crazy too 😉 I’m sure the bees are just plain confused at the moment. Saw a few honey bees about yesterday, but the Mason bees seem smarter, ours are still tucked away in their cardboard tubes!

  4. Oh, thank God it doesn’t snow here, although we got down into the high 20’s. Haven’t lost anything, yet!
    Turling´s last post…When to Fertilize

    • Hey, I usually say that! This is the first time the snow has come to me in the (mumble) years I’ve lived in the Bay Area 😛 We were down to 27F yesterday and early this morning. So far so good. Glad your garden is holding up!

  5. I am with Liz 100 percent now. Any snow should be short lived. It is fun for a while, and even in places it does not belong, but here in snow country, it is time to go away. Your pups looked liked they enjoyed it.
    Donna´s last post…Photoshop Your Work- Why Not

    • I have family that’s been trudging through snow all winter, and they’d agree wholeheartedly. Enough already, didn’t that groundhog promise an early spring?

  6. I like your ‘SNOW’ spelled out. I saw an idea for a Christmas card, spelling Merry Christmas in cranberries in the snow, but never had both at the same time! It snows here a few times a year, but is not the annoying kind, melts away within a few days, and isn’t it noisy as it melts? When I run around photographing it, it drops off the trees onto my head.
    Sue Langley´s last post…Spring’s Ephemerals in the Sierra foothills

    • I don’t know what made me scribble that at 3:00AM in the snow, maybe I just didn’t believe it was really snow! It’s actually turned out to be favorite photo of the day though. Maybe it will have to be our holiday card this year!

  7. Dear Clare, The light dusting of snow made everything look so very pretty on your farm and certainly your dogs found the whole incident great fun!I do so hope that you will not have any lasting damage to your plants and that the temperatures will not dip too low!
    Edith Hope´s last post…If Its Tuesday-It Must Be Belgium

    • So far I think our plants are alright, but it’s still getting quite cold at night, so we’re not quite out of the woods yet.

  8. No snow, but lots of ice.
    Dog Island Farm´s last post…Dogs &amp Bees – No Bueno

    • 🙁 I bet Squeek would have loved it if it snowed. Hope your garden is holding up in the cold.

  9. Boy it sure makes those trees look magnificent. We had snow last year for the first time since 1989, but this year back to normal, with Feb temps in the 70s.

    It is nice to see though if you don’t get to often!
    Jess´s last post…Out- Out Damned Spot!

    • Don’t suppose you could send some of those 70s temps back this way could you? 😉

  10. Hi CVH, thanks for stopping by my blog and commiserating on this unseasonal weather! Just when you think it’s safe to start planting things out… last night we had lightning, hail, pouring rain and big wind. Brrr.

    • Love your blog! Like you, we’re so ready for spring. Enough of this crazy weather…it was beautiful, but I miss the nice warm sunshine! 🙂

  11. I love that you got up in the middle of the night to see it snow. We don’t get snow that often here and I’ll still peek out the window during the night to see it’s snowing. I’m now ready for spring and hope the next time we see snow here it’s next December. It’s still very cold here – highs only in the 30’s.
    Catherine´s last post…Doesnt everyone put fences up in the snow

    • I think the dogs thought I was crazy, right up until they went outside. I felt like a kid getting up in the middle of the night just to see snow, but I had no idea if it would still be there by morning. Seems I could have slept in a little, but it wouldn’t have been as much fun!

  12. Love your snow-dusted photos! The dogs look like they’re having a lot of fun. I certainly empathize with you. Our gardens are not planted with freezing temps in mind here either. I think I’ll be using frost-cloth myself next year. Does it work really well? We’ve had high temps near or over 80 throughout February, so we were lucky this year.

    • For frost tender crops, especially our overwintering greens in the vegetable gardens, the frost blankets will buy a few degrees of protection. They won’t outright stop a deep freeze in its tracks, but ours have saved many a lettuce crop!

  13. Here in southeastern PA we routinely get snow when lots of plants are in bloom and nothing is ever damaged. So funny to see the fuss in CA, but I guess it’s exciting. I love snow.
    Carolyn @ Carolyn’s Shade Gardens´s last post…Evergreen Ferns for Shade &amp Stylish Blogger Award

    • I’m surprised to hear you say that. Although the snow itself isn’t the issue, as much as the cold that sets in after the storm clears. If there’s still snow on the ground, it insulates the plants, but our snow melted quickly, and then everything froze. I still remember the winter of January 1990 where Bay Area temperatures plummeted into the teens, and many plants, and even some city trees, were killed outright that winter. Was very disheartening to see. Probably makes us a little overprotective now 😉

  14. It looks so peaceful and beautiful. We didn’t get snow but we sure got a frost. Garden pulled through without any damage that I could see. Thanks for sharing – I loved the video clip.
    Byddi – We didn’t come here for the grass…´s last post…Learning from my mistakes

    • We seem to have escaped Jack Frost’s wrath too. A few blossoms looked a little crisped on a couple of the fruit trees, but overall everything looks great!

  15. I love that you set your alarm for the snow, and that you took your dogs out to play. It sounds and looks magical.
    Zoe´s last post…A Huge Accomplishment

  16. I can appreciate your excitement over snow, since we often go years between snowfalls here. However, I never got up in the middle of the night to see it! Your dogs must have loved it, too. Your snow covered trees really were a lovely sight.

    Spring arrived here over the weekend. I was gone for a couple days, then when I came home this afternoon I was greeted by hosts of blooms that weren’t there a few days ago. Still, we can expect a few more frosts.
    debsgarden´s last post…The Underworld of Hellebores

  17. I live along the sea and I see the snow 2-3 times in a winter. Generally it turns to rain or, when not, it melts away very soon. For this reason I absolutely love it!!!

  18. No snow at our house in Seaside. But we did get some hail or sleet early on Saturday morning. Fortunately, the plants survived just fine.
    Jackie´s last post…Serendipitous bean crosses

  19. It’s good that you could cover those trees. I know snow or cold can be really hard on fruit trees that have budded out. It’s hard to grow apricots here for that reason because they bloom out early and then get zapped by frost and freezing temps.

    I do think your snow was the best kind to have – the kind that can be admired…briefly!
    villager´s last post…February Breads

  20. I would have set the alarm as well. You’re not alone. I was so hoping to see some. I’m glad you got some and enjoyed it, and were able to protect all of your plants. Snowy redwoods? Now that’s not something I ever expected to see.
    Brad´s last post…No snow and California bay nuts

  21. Well, I guess we coastal Californians are a bit Namby-Pamby, but darn it, all the fruit trees were blooming like crazy when the cold hit and the bees retired from duty.

    Great photos and much fun.

    All garden joys to you,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  22. Yup I posted about our snow, and felt a little silly and embarrassed, too, especially thinking of Rat’s Minnesota family! My brother and his wife live in Santa Cruz harbor on their boat, and they got snow! I was surprised to hear that.
    Country Mouse´s last post…Of Cynoglossum Grande- and Other Topics

  23. Clare my hubby gets excited about snow every single winter – when those first flakes fall he is normally up watching in the middle of the night though he has never ventured outside. I hope those peach blossoms won’t be affected by the cold and your dogs must have had a great time.

  24. Snow can be miraculous, especially the first snowfall. Delighted you were so joyful, Clare. On the other hand, still surrounded, I’ve seen enough though often will get a big dump around St. Patrick’s Day and not uncommon to snow on forsythias, tulips, daffs etc.

  25. We also had unusual snows here in GA this winter. I’m still hoping that most things survived it, particularly as you say, the following cold.
    Karyls´s last post…American hazelnut Corylus americana valuable Habitat Garden Plant