It’s snow big deal: Flurries bring smiles, evoke memories

Kira Sterling and Sophia Krugler

Snow wouldn’t cause much commotion in most parts of the world, but that’s not the case for Palo Alto. Residents were shocked to catch a glimpse of snow on the foothills Tuesday morning following light snowfall in Palo Alto the night before.

A Palo Alto police car drives through the snow on Page Mill Road. A section of the road was closed until noon on Feb. 5 due to weather conditions. Photo: Palo Alto Police Department Twitter

Gunn High School sophomore Cecilia Cai was among the few Palo Alto residents who caught a glimpse of the rare snow. Cai, a swimmer at Alto Swim Club, was in the middle of a morning practice at Palo Alto High School when the snow began to fall. 

According to Cai, the snow started around 5:45 a.m. 

“We were in the middle of a set, so everyone was super focused, and my coach was laughing and saying it’s snowing,” Cai said. “Everyone just looked up and watched the flurries falling down from the sky.” 

Page Mill Road is almost unrecognizable covered with a dusting of snow after a storm in 1991. Photo: Palo Alto Historical Association

Longtime Palo Alto resident Jinny Henke recalls her last snow day in Palo Alto, which happened in 1991.

“[We] arrived home from an excursion that day to find a small snowman in our front yard,” Henke stated in an email. “Our neighbors’ teenage son … had driven to the hills in a friend’s pickup truck, made a snowman, brought it home and placed it in our front yard. That was a wonderful surprise.” 

Families celebrate the wintry weather with a walk along Page Mill Road in 1988. Photo: Palo Alto Historical Association
A blanket of snow covers an orchard in the Los Altos hills, not far from the Palo Alto Foothills, in Feb. 1976. Photo: Palo Alto Historical Association

Liz Kristofferson, who grew up in Palo Alto, was only seven years old when it snowed in 1976, but remembers playing in the snow before school.

“We got up, and were very excited because it had snowed outside,” Kristofferson said. “I think it might have been the first time I ever saw snow.”

Sand Hill Road, with Stanford’s Hoover Tower in the background, looks much different today than it did in 1962 — in part due to the many buildings that line the road now, but also due to the lack of snow. That same year, the foothills received nearly nine inches of snow, with over an inch of snow falling in Rinconada Park. Photo: Palo Alto Historical Association

Though Palo Alto’s most recent snow day doesn’t quite match up to the storms of ’62 and ’76, residents were still thrilled for the change from Palo Alto’s usually temperate climate.

“Snow is my favorite thing in the entire world,” Cai said. “I’ve wanted it to snow here my whole life.”