When did it snow in Sacramento? See all the dates, amounts

12/06/2013 2:09 PM

05/22/2014 8:59 AM

A chance of snowflakes and record-breaking cold temperatures are forecast for Sacramento this weekend, which makes us wonder: When did it snow in Sacramento?

Many people probably recall the trace recorded on Dec. 7, 2009, and some of us might remember the "big snow" of 1976 when 2 inches fell. But did you know the record was set in 1888 when 3.5 inches fell? That's hard to imagine.

Which of these Sacramento snows do you remember?

And, yes, the last time it snowed in Sacramento was Dec. 7, 2009, according to the National Weather Service.

The following data and edited notes come from the NWS office in Sacramento. See the full (and large) PDF here.

Coldest temperatures in Sacramento

The coldest temperature ever recorded in the downtown area was 17 degrees on Dec. 11, 1932. Minimum temperatures dropped to the teens and low 20s every night during a cold snap that lasted from Dec. 9 to 15. Crop damage was quite extensive, especially in the citrus orchards of Fair Oaks and Orangevale, where temperatures dipped to as low as 11 degrees. Celery and lettuce crops in the delta were also hard hit. Ice thick enough for skating formed on the small lakes and ponds at Southside and McKinley parks, with a layer of ice one-sixteenth of an inch thick reported on the Sacramento River.

A cold snap during the winter of 1990 was equally as devastating. Downtown Sacramento had a record number of days (11) with minimum temperatures of 32 or lower from Dec. 20, 1990 through January 1, 1991.

Snow in Sacramento

Snow in Sacramento is extremely rare but most often occurs in January. The most snowfall measured in the downtown area in any 24-hour period was 3.5 inches on January 4-5, 1888.

The heaviest snowfall in recent years took place Feb. 5, 1976, when 2 inches was reported at Sacramento's Executive Airport. Ironically, this happened during a drought year.

The data: Snowfall in Sacramento (January 1878 - August 2010)

2009 December 7 -- Trace

2002 January 28 -- Trace

1996 February 27 -- Trace

1988 December 27, 28 -- Trace

1982 March 17 -- Trace

1976 February 5 -- 2.0 inches

1974 January 4 -- Trace

1972 December 6, 12 -- Trace

1968 December 19, 20, 23 -- Trace

1964 January 21 -- Trace

1962 January 21 -- Trace

1957 January 25, 26 -- Trace

1955 April 18,26 -- Trace

1954 March 19 -- Trace

1952 March 15 -- Trace

1952 February 20 -- Trace

1952 January 12 -- Trace

1949 February 11 -- Trace

1942 March 14 -- 2.0 inches

1937 January 10, 11, 24, 30 -- Trace

1935 March 8 -- Trace

1933 January 18 -- Trace

1932 December 9 -- Trace

1932 February 01 -- Trace

1932 January 12 -- 0.2 inch

1930 January 12 -- Trace

1925 April 20 -- Trace

1922 January 30 -- 1.5 inches

1916 January 1 -- 2.5 inches

1916 January 27 -- 0.5 inch

1913 January 9 -- 0.1 inch

1911 December 29 -- Trace

1911 February 26, 27 -- Trace

1907 January 6 -- 0.4 inch

1899 February 2 -- Trace

1896 March 2 -- Trace

1888 January 16 -- 0.1 inch

1888 January 5 -- 3.0 inches

1888 January 4 -- 0.5 inch

1883 February 1, 6 -- Trace

1882 February 17, 18 -- 1.0 inch

1880 January 26 -- 1.0 inch

1879 January 13 -- 0.5 inch

Snowfall data is based on city office records from January 1878 through December 1950. Executive Airport data is used from that time until April 15, 1998. Thereafter, records revert to Sacramento City data.*

Sleet and ice pellets were included in snowfall totals beginning July 1948. Ice pellets is a term that is internationally recognized and includes solid grains of ice (sleet) and particles consisting of snow pellets encased in a thin layer of ice.

"Snow" in April of 1925 and 1955 was actually a mixture of hail and sleet. The observer's weather log for April 20, 1925, indicated that there was a mixture of rain and sleet "with an occasional flake of snow."

The "Trace" recorded April 18, 1955, was during a brief hailstorm, with hail measuring one half-inch in diameter. Small hail was observed on April 26, 1955.

In most instances, snowfall at Sacramento is estimated as the snow usually melts as it reaches the ground.

*Snowfall observation point is Sacramento Weather Forecast Office, near the corner of Watt & El Camino avenues.

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