With snow a possibility this weekend, it’s worth looking back at how March weather came in like a lion in 1976. It was documented on the front page of what was then The Telegram-Tribune.
I’m glad we didn’t have to get out the set of snow tires that year. Imagine a snowy Cuesta Grade without a center divider. In 1922, a cold storm brought snow to the streets of San Luis Obispo.
Reporter Bruce Kyse and photographers Wayne Nicholls and Thom Halls covered the rare snowfall in this March 3, 1976, article:
“A brief but furious storm blustered through San Luis Obispo County Tuesday and early today, dropping icy rains, hail and a creamy topping of snow on county hillsides.
“Tuesday’s storm hit on and off with all the vigor and rage of a New England gale. It knocked out television broadcast stations, stopped Highway 101 traffic on Cuesta Grade, forced two fishermen to beach their boat, flooded sections of San Luis Obispo and caused several accidents.
“By dawn today, the storm had gone — almost as fast as it hit Tuesday morning — leaving bright but crisp sunshine to reflect from the white-headed hilltops.
“The heavenly disturbance also hit other areas of the state, coating San Francisco Bay Area hillsides with snow and spreading fresh skiing powder in the Sierra Nevadas.
“It will probably be another cold night, but don’t expect more snow. The weatherman says the sky should remain clear until Friday.”
Kyse went on to report how power and cable television were out most of the day all over the county, even forcing KSBY-TV to go dark until 6:30 p.m. that night, as its “engineers were snowed in last night as they worked on equipment on Cuesta Grade.
“ ‘You needed chains to get in or out,’ chief technician Ken Reed said today.”
And, “The Goodyear blimp, en route to San Francisco, was forced to land at San Luis Obispo Airport because of bad weather conditions.
“The California Highway Patrol reported eight accidents during the 12 hours from 6 p.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. today. There were also numerous spinouts and reports of cars leaving the road, a spokesman said.”
The snow and ice closed Highway 101 along the Cuesta Grade for several hours. Several trucks jackknifed.
Dave Romero, more recently former San Luis Obispo mayor, but then city public services director, said Garden Street flooded when drains backed up and water seeped into an office building.