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Light snow dust portions of the Southern California desert

California, USA
Light snow dusted portions of the Southern California desert - Rain, hail and snow fell Thursday in the Southern California desert, where temperatures had soared to 85 degrees just days ago. Snow flurries dusted portions of the Coachella Valley, including Beaumont, Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs in the morning. "It was very, very light snow, but DEFINATELY UNUSUAL. Palm Springs is at 425 feet, that's pretty low to see snow." Temperatures in the area dropped to 47 degrees. Snow blew across a highway in Morongo, replacing the sand that normally covers the road. The UNUSUAL weather was caused by a low pressure system that originated in the Gulf of Alaska.

A FREAK winter storm Thursday wreaked havoc on roads in the Aguanga area, as snow, ice and winds caused multiple-vehicle pileups and dozens of cars to skid off of a highway. The blustery weather even CAUGHT METEOROLOGISTS BY SURPRISE, as a powerful cold front swooped in from the Nevada Plateau during the early hours and brought rain, thunderstorms and snow to the area. "The storm CAME OUT OF NOWHERE. None of our crews could get to the crashes because there was such heavy snowfall, and our plows couldn't get through because the road was clogged up with cars." Before noon, a California Highway Patrol officer reported on the agency's Web site that "vehicles are just going off the roadway everywhere" on Highway 79 south of the Riverside-San Diego counties line. The cold front came in over a deep marine layer, and the combination of the cold, windy front with the warmer marine moisture made for "perfect conditions for a blizzard and thunderstorms."

Image Above:
Mark Zaleski / The Press-Enterprise: Randy Chase walks to his home in Beaumont on Thursday. "The snow came out of nowhere," CHP Officer Brian Pennings said.
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