Local News

Saturday, Jan 25 2014 01:37 PM

15th anniversary: The great snow of '99

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    By Henry A. Barrios/ The Californian

    A family trudges along through the snow in front of a line of Palm trees in Bakersfield on Monday, Jan. 25, 1999. Bakersfield got its first snowfall in at least 27 years, up to a half-foot that gave schoolchildren a rare chance to make snowmen but made travel difficult if not impossible.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    A Jan. 24, 2014 view of palm trees on the Panorama Bluffs that were photographed on Jan. 25, 1999 on the biggest snow day in recent history in Bakersfield.

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By The Bakersfield Californian

Today's chance of flurries? Zero.

If you’ve lived in the Bakersfield area for at least 15 years, you will surely remember scenes like the one above: That once-in-a-lifetime blanket of snow that covered much of the southern San Joaquin Valley on Jan. 25, 1999.

We asked Henry Barrios, The Californian staff photographer who snapped that memorable picture (which was also published on the front page of the New York Times), to return to the Panorama Bluffs of northeast Bakersfield, overlooking the Kern River oil field, and record what he saw.

The identically framed scene, at right, couldn’t have been more different.

It’s not enough to say that Friday’s record-high temperature of 79 (beating the old record of 77, set in 1946) wasn’t conducive to snow; drought conditions have deprived the area of the slightest drop of precipitation. And with high winds creating a potentially hazardous dust storm — gusts reached 43 mph — the scene was anything but idyllic.

Snowman, anyone? We wish.

Pick up a copy of Saturday's Californian to see a full page of photos from 1999's snow day, or log into the e-edition to see them.

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