By Allison Jarrell
Last month, Orange County residents experienced a rare winter phenomenon—snow. The county’s last reported snowfall was in January 1949, which was the first snow recorded since 1881, according to the Orange County Almanac. On Wednesday, Dec. 31, San Juan residents were treated to a wintry backdrop of snow-covered mountains. Temperatures dropped to the low 30s at night with highs in the upper 50s during the day.
But the weather proved treacherous for many travelers east of San Juan Capistrano, and 30 cars were stranded in the snow overnight on Ortega Highway near Temecula, according to CHP Officer Aaron Rothberg. After about a foot of snow blanketed the highway on the night of Dec. 30, the California Highway Patrol closed the road due to hazardous conditions. Rothberg said CHP worked with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department to survey the area and rescue stranded motorists, but all of the cars had been abandoned. The highway reopened by 5 p.m. Dec. 31.