RIDGECREST — Indian Wells Valley residents received a holly, jolly Thanksgiving surprise when snow dusted the valley floor for the first time in eight years.
According to the National Weather Service in Hanford, Ridgecrest and Inyokern both received a total of three inches of snow; the highest elevation in the area, Octane Wells Campground in the desert near Searles Road, received eight inches.
Residents didn’t waste a moment of the snow falling, which started sticking at the higher elevations around 7:30 a.m. Children immediately set up snowmen (and even a snow turkey or two) and snowball fights were instigated.
Snow also didn’t deter the annual Over the Hill Track Club’s annual Turkey Trot, which saw around 200 people of all ages participate.
Sherman E. Burroughs High School cross-country coach Anthony Barnes had promised Wednesday via a Facebook update that “The Turkey Trot will happen rain, SNOW, wind, or shine!”
The update lived up to its promise runners and joggers braved the Thanksgiving snow and ran up College Heights Boulevard and into white-blanketed Rademacher Hills and surrounding desert.
“I tell the kids it’s an experience they should all have and it’s better than running in the rain because even though it’s wet, it’s also dryer,” Barnes said Thursday following the Turkey Trot.
Madelyn Acosta, a Sherman E. Burroughs High School senior cross-country runner, called the experience outstanding.
“I’ve never ran in the snow and it was really weird,” Acosta said. “I felt as if I closed my eyes for long enough they would freeze shut.”
However, once Acosta started running long enough, it didn't bother her as much.
“Once the ice started to melt into your clothes, you could feel the weight,” she said.
Acosta, whose family moved to the valley in 2004, said she remembers the last time a serious snow came.
“In my kindergarten years, we had a snowball fight,” she said. “This brings back a lot of memories just having that snowball fight with my teacher. I’m just enjoying this because making new memories in the snow is always fun.”
Valley residents, families and businesses were quick to post videos and photos on social media.
Ridgecrest Regional Hospital posted a photo of its snow-covered front entrance, while the Randsburg General Store in Randsburg displayed the falling snow in front of its iconic white-trimmed red storefront, as well as the historic Santa Barbara Church some way down the street.
Over at Pearson Park on North Downs Street, the Merzlak clan was in the process of building a snowman, with father Kenny Merzlak noting “that we’re going to take as much advantage as we can with the snow.”
The IWV’s Thanksgiving also received a surprise later in the afternoon when a magnitude 3.7 earthquake jolted many from a food coma at around 4:50 p.m. According to U.S. Geological Survey records, the earthquake was about 8.7 miles northeast of Ridgecrest at a depth of 4 miles.