The Great Snow of 2022/23

I put together this table from a spreadsheet I maintain of publicly available National Weather Service meteorological data. Data are provisional and require verification. Nevertheless, the snowfall so far in winter 2022/23 in Idyllwild would place it seventh in recorded history (reliable data collection started in 1943). Perhaps more significantly, we have received the most snow in a winter since 1963/64, a span of 59 years. So rather than being a “once-in-a-generation” event, this may prove to be a once-in-a-lifetime event for most Idyllwild residents. The table also shows that with another few inches, this could be the biggest snow season since the 1940s!

Although our perceptions may have been skewed by some extremely dry winters in the past decade, major snowfalls are not as rare as many current residents might think. This is the third time this century that Idyllwild has surpassed 60 inches of snow in a winter (62.8 inches in 2000/01, and 62.4 inches in 2010/11), so 60+ inch winters might be considered to occur roughly once every decade.

Major snowfall months have also occurred recently, in winters that did not otherwise end up with exceptional annual totals. February 2011 recorded 45.5 inches, and there were 45.5 inches in March 2006. By comparison, approximately 42 inches were recorded in February 2023 (provisional data). Of course, this February was notable in that roughly 80% of the total fell all in the last week of the month, with no respite for significant melting.

These data only reflect snowfall measurements, and do not incorporate rainfall totals. Broadly speaking it is clear that snowfall has become much more variable in the past decade, ranging from extremely dry (<10 inches) to, obviously, very snowy.

Note that data for the high country are dramatically different from those for Idyllwild, and generally sadly lacking, other than meteorological records for Long Valley (8600 ft elevation) since the 1960s. For example, although Long Valley currently has about 5 feet of snow, publicly available records for the 1970s show that Long Valley averaged 119 inches (almost 10 feet!) per winter back then.

The top ten snowfall totals by winter for Idyllwild are as follows:

108.1 inches  1948/49

107.5 inches  1943/44

77.1 inches  1952/53

76.1 inches  1963/64

74.9 inches  1961/62

72.7 inches  1951/52

71.8 inches  2022/23 (to date)

69.4 inches  1981/82

65.5 inches  1957/58

63.3 inches  1954/55

The gate at Humber Park, Thursday 2nd March 2023. I measured a snow depth of 44-46 inches of snow at the Devil’s Slide trailhead.
Upper Fern Valley Road, 2nd March 2023. Roads are currently very narrow, and treacherous for those without suitable vehicles and experience driving in such conditions.
Spectacular icicles on the Fern Valley Water District building, upper Fern Valley Road, 2nd March 2023.

While many hundreds of hours of time and labor are volunteered annually, the San Jacinto Trail Report uses small private donations to help cover modest operating costs. Every year seems to have its unique challenges, and clearly 2023 will be no exception. Your contribution keeps the Report available to all, free from advertising or paywalls, and independent from agencies. If you have found this Report useful, please consider using this link to the Donate page. Zelle, Venmo, and PayPal are all options. Thank you so much for your support.

11 thoughts on “The Great Snow of 2022/23

  1. I so appreciate learning this history from you, too, Jon. Thank you! Glad to know that you know how to stay safe out there!


  2. Yes, Thanks so very much and so glad safety is tops on your list of priorities…Your contributions are, to borrow your home country’s phrase- Brilliant. I will share this on our FB – “ Idyllwild Snow for Locals “ group page,,,( and recommend they donate some as well )…Thanks again !


  3. Dear Jon,
    Seems like the winter of ‘79 has been skipped. I remember 3feet of snow the end of January with frequent showers following to top things off until the Spring. Google “Snow in Palm Springs” for a view of it from the desert.


    1. Thanks for your comment Lanny. According to NWS data, Idyllwild received 41.1 inches of snow in the winter of 1978/79. There are some data omissions for some years, including that one sadly. It is possible that the NWS data do not adequately represent the water year, however that is the best publicly available available information. Even with significantly more snow in January 1979, is possible that it still may not have cracked the top ten years. Safe hiking, Jon.


  4. Wow-thanx for the reports and publishing our historical snow falls.So glad we’re closed off to snow visitors.


  5. Jon, your efforts do not go unnoticed. I do not get up there often, maybe a few times a year, but l love seeing your reports. Im from San Diego. Keep up the good work! I sent a small donation thru paypal. Sorry, cannot afford much.


  6. So, it looks like we may hit the third time most snow for the Idyllwild area next week, based on your report, here.


    1. With another 5.5 inches of snow in Idyllwild, we would have the snowiest winter recorded here since the 1940s. It looks like we may get at least that in the next storm. Exciting times. Safe hiking, Jon.


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