The Winter of ’68-69

I grew up in Upland, in the suburbs east of Los Angeles, in the foothills beneath Cucamonga Peak. Southern California’s storms this week have been a pleasant reminder of my childhood.

A little cross referencing of family memory and old weather records pinned it down to January of 1969. It was my sister Lisa’s 12th birthday. She was having a slumber party, and Dad and I cleared out to stay in a motel, which was a grand adventure for 10-year-old me. “Do you remember your 12th birthday party,” I asked her this evening. “Do you remember the rain?”

It poured. Memorably.

“Yeah,” Lisa said. “I’ve been thinking about that too.”

I found records from a weather station that must have been very close to our house in Upland. It shows 19.64 inches (50cm) of precipitation for January 1969, and another 14.57 inches (37cm) in February. At some point during the series of storms, when the sun had come out, Dad drove us out 16th street east of town to see where Cucamonga Wash had torn away the road to my Grandma’s house.

Courtesy Pomona Public Library

Courtesy Pomona Public Library

It remains one of he coolest things I’ve ever seen. Nature, all that raw power, and nothing we humans could do about it but wait for the waters to recede and rebuild the road.


  1. I grew up in Ontario, and your post brought me a start of recognition. I recall being on a snow camp with the scouts on the first day of the storms up Lytle Creek and having our trip washed out in a big way. It was a memorable series of storms, and it is frightening how much development covers the alluvial fan surfaces in the region today. I don’t think the concrete channels will be able to handle the water and debris that will surely come bursting out of the mountains the next time one of these storm series hits.

  2. Garry – Thanks for sharing that. I was looking at rain gauges yesterday around the LA basin, and found one in Lytle Creek. They were getting dumped. But it’s mid-week, so hopefully no scouts were there.

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