HMS Weather

San Francisco’s Snowstorms

January 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

By Samuel Phineas Upham

California has a reputation for not handling weather well. Southern California is particularly guilty of this stereotype, but the state as a whole is often caught off guard by severe storms. The most recent example is El Nino, but there is hardly a shortage of examples where the state of California failed to adequately prepare for storms. So it’s refreshing when weather can bring a bit of cheer rather than destruction.

In December of 1856, San Francisco got a dose of holiday cheer in the form of two and a half inches of snowfall. The storm was so thrilling to the citizens that it made the news, along with stories of the town’s oldest resident telling anyone who would listen that he’d never witnessed anything like that in his entire life.

The thermometer hit 36 degrees, and children came out to play with snowballs they’d formed from the fresh powder. Prancing horses marked the wintery celebration, like something out of a commercial, as people sang and danced.

Today, we are concerned with the potential effects of global warming and often ask about the state of our planet. From 1856 to 1888, San Francisco experienced several winter snowstorms and freak rain showers in July. On New Years Eve of 1882, snow fall consistently for five hours straight. The streets were blanketed in 3.5 inches of the white stuff, causing downed wires and freezing the garden at Golden Gate Park.

It was enough to kick off a local debate about whether the changes people had made to the San Francisco landscape had irreparably destroyed the landscape.

About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Twitter.