Even in Claremont, February is wintertime

The groundhog may have seen its shadow earlier this month, promising an early spring, but there has been no spring in sight for southern California. From last week’s impromptu hailstorm to the sunny but frigid weekend weather, the cold continues to creep into Claremont.

Chilly temperatures and a fast paced winter storm brought snow down to the 2500-foot level in the San Gabriel Mountains over the weekend. Blizzard-like conditions closed many local roadways as an unusually ice storm front moved its way through the southland. Big Bear Mountain was piled high with more than a foot of snow while Mt. Baldy skiers also received a gift in the form of white frost. However, high winds kept the local mountaintop closed off from recreational activities early this week.  

While posing a challenge for mountain dwellers, it provided picturesque scenery for onlookers below. Padua Hills resident Catherine McIntosh drank it all in as she was driving down Via Padova Friday evening.

“We came upon the dramatic sight of snow-capped foothills glowing just beneath a layer of clouds,” Ms. McIntosh shared.

She eagerly returned to the scene with tripod in hand the next morning: “I watched as the sunrise shed its pink light across the snow-covered hills. Beautiful! By 9 a.m. the snow was already melting and clouds began to obscure the view.”

Last weekend’s cold snap was just one of many that have traveled through southern California this winter, but there is some relief in sight. Claremont residents can expect to warm up a bit after last week’s chill. Temperatures are said to rise into the 70s beginning today.

While some are eager to put the chilly weather in the past, for others moving on won’t be so easy. The cold weather is proving to be a particularly pesky for local farmers, who are mourning the loss of crop. A Miramar Avenue private residence is evident of the loss; while citrus plants escaped the frostbite, the avocado trees were less lucky. Wilting trees lined the grove with brown leaves the only thing barely hanging on.  

On the other side of Claremont, the Pomona College Organic farm was also hit hard.

“We lost all of our bananas and avocados, so it definitely has had a big impact on us,” noted Professor Richard Hazlett of Pomona College’s Environmental Analysis program, who also helps teach courses at the school’s organic farm.

The cold snap may have taken a particular hit on the student-run farm this year, but dealing with the ebb and flow in weather is nothing new, says Mr. Hazlett.

“It’s characteristic of our local climate that we get extremes in weather,” he said. “It’s our bad for not protecting these plants before they were taken by nature.”

While it’s too late for their crop, Mr. Hazlett offered a bit of advice for those at home looking to maintain their harvest. While smudge pots are no longer as widely available as they may have been in the groves of Claremont’s past, a useful tool in keeping the frost at bay, Mr. Hazlett suggests covering plants with sheets and light blankets will help provide some needed warmth during particularly bitter nights. And in the meantime, while he awaits starting the planting over again, Mr. Hazlett takes comfort in the fact that the warm season is just around the corner.

“Spring is coming,” he said. “And we will all recover in due time.”

—Beth Hartnett



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