Mar 2, 2023 - Science

California declares emergency in 13 counties as snow closes parks

A screenshot of a Yosemite National Park tweet of a car buried in snow.

The scene at Yosemite National Park this week. Photo: Yosemite National Park Service

California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in 13 counties late Wednesday due to this week's severe winter storms, as major snowfall forced parks in the state to close.

The big picture: While the extreme precipitation eased across the state, millions were under freeze alerts and Yosemite National Park closed indefinitely as it reported record snowfall at low elevations Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Newsom proclaimed an emergency for the counties of Amador, Kern, Los Angeles, Madera, Mariposa, Mono, Nevada, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Sierra, Sonoma and Tulare to support disaster response efforts.

  • Officials in those counties are working to repair highways and other infrastructure damaged in the storms, while snow has stranded people in and around Lake Arrowhead.

By the numbers: A Yosemite National Park official told the Los Angeles Times that 40 inches of snow had fallen at low elevations in the Yosemite Valley — breaking the record 36 inches set in 1969.

  • The Sierra Nevada was also close to seeing records tumble, as the UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab reported that it's "now at 205% of our average snowfall to-date and are at 138% of our annual peak SWE [snow-water equivalent]."

In photos: Massive snowfall across California

Photo: Yosemite National Park/Twitter
A person gets a high-angle view from the Walt Disney Concert Hall as it is viewed with the snow-capped San Gabriel mountains at sunset after historic rain and snow dumped on Southern California Wednesday, March 1, 2023 in Los Angeles.
The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, near the snow-capped San Gabriel mountains, at sunset on March 1 after historic rain and snow dumped on Southern California. Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Homes and vehicles are inundated with snow in Sugarloaf in California's San Bernardino Mountains on March 1. Photo: Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
 A man slips while walking on an icy road as residents throughout the San Bernardino Mountains remain trapped in their homes by snow on March 1, 2023 in Running Springs, California.
A man slips while walking on an icy road in Running Springs, California, as residents throughout the San Bernardino Mountains remain trapped in their homes by snow on March 1. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images
A Cal Trans employee turns away a driver as they attempted to gain access to Wrightwood on Highway 2 near Highway 138 Wednesday, Mar. 1,.
A Cal Trans employee turns away a driver as they attempted to gain access to Wrightwood on Highway 2 near Highway 138 on March 1. Photo: Will Lester/MediaNews Group/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin via Getty Images
The Hollywood sign stands in front of snow-covered mountains after another winter storm hit Southern California on March 01, 2023 in Los Angeles.
The Hollywood sign stands in front of snow-covered mountains in Los Angeles on March 1. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images
A woman from La Puente shovels snow out of her family's rental property  in Wrightwood so they can move their vehicles on Wednesday, Mar. 1.
A woman shovels snow so her family can move their vehicles in Wrightwood, California, on March 1. Photo: Will Lester/MediaNews Group/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin via Getty Images
A pedestrian crossing the street in downtown Los Angeles is silhouetted against the snow-capped San Gabriel mountains at sunset after historic rain and snow dumped on Southern California in on Wednesday, March 1, 2023 in Los Angeles.
A pedestrian crossing the street in downtown Los Angeles is silhouetted against the snow-capped San Gabriel mountains at sunset on March 1. Photo: Allen J. Schaben Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
A bus tries to drive in the snow-slammed Yosemite National Park on Feb. 27
A bus in Yosemite National Park as highlighted in a Yosemite National Park Service online post announcing its closure on Feb. 27. Photo: Yosemite NPS/Instagram
A City of Lake Tahoe tweet Wednesday stating: "Per South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue, Engine 3 responded to a reported structure collapse this morning on Melba Ave. The extreme heavy snow load completely flattened the building while leaving one wall standing."
Photo: City of South Lake Tahoe/Twitter
A Cal Trans tweet stating, "his is our crew working on Highway 50 over Echo Summit tonight. Cliffs on the left, snow bank on the right."
Photo: California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) District 3 — Marysville/Twitter

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