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*It's pretty long obviously since I like writing long intros, and the update as a whole is arguably over informative so you can skip all the text as always and just look at the pictures*
Cedar Valley, located south of Kellan in a suburban region known as the "Alpine Cities", has quite a history despite its relatively small size. Before it became known as the home of Henderson Inc., a company with the second highest revenue of any in the world that is best known for its smartphones, and the southern staple of the Silicon Forest, Cedar Valley was once known as Canada's premier snow resort. Like many other mountainous places on the US/Canadian West Coast and Japan, the original founders of Cedar Meadows took advantage of the city's extremely high snowfall thanks to high precipitation and a cold climate (even though it is not even close to being as cold as places further east in Canada). At first, Cedar Meadows was a fairly tame ski resort when it opened in 1928 with only a couple a couple thousand visitors every year, hindered by the effects of the Great Depression during its first decade of operation. However, national newspapers started spreading the word of Cedar Valley's not-so-cold-but-very-snowy climate, which started to catch the attention of many citizens nationwide, as well as in other parts of the Pacific Northwest. The Calgary Sun described it as "...a place gets so much snow in the winter it takes until late-July for it to melt, allowing for fun in the snow while wearing shorts in 70-degree temperatures", and the Toronto Star mentioned how "morning temperatures dip below freezing for a couple hours on a regular basis in the summer and allows many to catch a mid-summer snow flurry, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity since this never happens in non-mountainous parts of the world."
By the time the 1940s came, Cedar Valley started exploding in growth, jumping from 562 permanent residents in 1935 to over 17,000 by 1943 and 32,148 in 1949 as well as adding three more snow resorts, dozens of snow-related venues, and countless leisure spots and tourists attractions around the city. In fact, Cedar Valley became so popular that some newspapers estimated its daytime population, permanent residents+non-permanent workers/tourists, had the ability to top 350,000 people on multiple occasions between Late-Spring and Mid-Summer (however, Late Fall through Early Spring would see relatively low numbers due to heavy snow conditions and a lack of modern technology that prevented tourists from reaching Cedar Valley). It also became a popular destination for military soldiers either going to the Eastern Pacific or staying on Pacific bases along the West Coast during WWII near Vancouver Island as well as a popular family destination in the Pacific Northwest.
(This was a real event by the way, all links for those of you who are interested are at the bottom). As the year 1949 approached, things were going pretty smoothly as Cedar Valley's snow resorts continued to thrive from a population boom in the northern part of the Kellan Valley that brought in tons of new potential customers. However, a very extreme meteorological event was getting ready to affect not only Cedar Valley but the entire Pacific Northwest (and to a significantly lesser extent, the Southwestern US). In December 1949, an unrealistic cold spell gripped the region and stayed until February 1950. It was so cold that all-time cold records were shattered throughout January and February in various Pacific Northwest cities that still have yet to be matched today, with cities like Portland, Oregon recording its first ever- and only- subzero temperatures two days in a row. The cold spell occasionally drifted South and caused a few snow flurries to fall in areas that never see snow, with Los Angeles seeing a rare snowfall that was also one of its last snowfalls ever. Scott Sistek in a KOMO News Article (real article link) reported that "As the calendar turned to 1950, [the] region became gripped in a 6-week arctic blast that wiped out nearly every cold temperature record we have -- and almost all of those records stand today as we have yet to have even come close to approaching them since," and another KOMO article (link) reporting that "January 13, 1950 was one of the worst winter days in Western Washington history with hurricane force winds mixing with single digit temperatures in Bellingham while our friends to the south in Seattle were buried in feet of snow." In fact, this winter was so extreme that many in the meteorological community wonder if this was less of a phenomenon and more of a mere coincidence. Either way, a lack of adequate weather forecasting technology in Cedar Valley gave people little time to prepare and created an event that one historian went as far to dramatizing the event as a "snowy hostage situation".
On December 20th, both Cedar Valley and Kellan, as well as most of Northern Vancouver Island, a series of closely spaced storms slammed the region back-to-back, causing precipitation to fall at least once every single day for 63 days straight, with this precipitation varying as both rain and snow in lower elevations but falling almost exclusively falling as snow at higher elevations. While people down in the Kellan Valley were buried in snow similar to other lower elevation big cities of the region like Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver, residents still managed to take care of themselves. However, in Cedar Valley, the situation was much different, with over 300 inches (762 cm) of snow falling in just the month of January. Inadequate forecasting technology prevented residents and tourists alike from preparing for this, and even though they wanted to evacuate they couldn't due to high winds and whiteout conditions. Things climaxed in the seven day period between January 5th and 11th when multiple potent storms dumped 192 inches (488 cm) of snow on the city, and 55 inches (140 cm) on January 11th alone. This practically buried every single building in Cedar Valley and forced people to sleep in tents on top of the hundreds of inches of fresh power to survive and wait out the storm. During the first week of February, the same time period Seattle and Portland recorded their own new temperature records, Cedar Valley recorded it's new all-time lowest temperature of -36F (-37C) and an eye-popping maximum temperature of .-5F (-21C) the same day. In Late February, when this event finally ended and a heat wave set upon the region, literally every single person in Cedar Valley abandoned the city, even as the heat wave caused rushing flash floods from snowmelt. The city became a ghost town, and the 1950 national census released the next year even listed the city's population as "0", and the 1955 population estimates coming in at just 121, a far cry from its peak in 1949. Luckily, the death toll wasn't as high as it could've been, although 112 is still a very high number.
The event, as well as the numerous flash floods caused by heat waves in the following months that swelled rivers in the region and washed away dozens of structures in Cedar Valley and thousands across the state, scared everyone away from coming anywhere near Cedar Valley for decades. All of its snow resorts and two-thirds of its tourist attractions either went bankrupt or were closed down and the city's population rose to but then flatlined around the 1,000 mark until the 1990s. Even today, its population of 26,105 isn't above its old peak population and the city isn't even close to being as busy as it was in its glory days, and having Henderson Inc. set up shop in the city and host multiple tech-related events (including its annual HFO Developer's Conference) that bring tens of thousands of visitors still isn't enough to make the city look like it formerly was. Voters have long prevented new snow resorts from being built, which only aids to Cedar Valley's problem of not tapping into its potential snow culture. However, as the bustling tech scene of Greater Kellan, a.k.a the "Silicon Forest", pulls in younger voters as time moves on, many have predicted that Cedar Valley may soon get it's own snow resorts again, which would finally allow the city to relive the glory days of days past...
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The area we will be focusing on this entry.
(Click to enlarge the panorama and view it in full resolution). Mt. Jacket towers over Cedar Valley, offering views of the city on its south face, moderate views of Peak on its west face, and heavenly views of the Kellan Valley on its north face. On very clear days, something that isn't too common in the Pacific Northwest, one can see the skyscrapers of Downtown Kellan and nearby business districts which are some 19+ miles away.
A view of Downtown Cedar Valley on a snowless July day. The long, tall, and narrow building in the center left formerly known as the John Cedar Resort was built in 1946 by the Cedar Brothers, who served as the namesake for both the hotel, the city, and the famous local ski resort they founded, Cedar Meadows. This was the first of a chain of prestigious winter hotels that specialized in quality over quantity, earning it the nickname "Winter Ritz-Carlton". It has locations all across winter resorts all over the United States and Canada, with its Lake Tahoe, Whistler Blackcomb, Big Bear, Aspen, and Flagstaff locations being some of its most prestigious in the chain.
A section of Henderson Inc.'s global headquarters, which is located within the city on an elevated plateau two miles west of downtown, on a very snowy fall day. Since the picture was taken in the fall and not winter, the snow is not as deep as it can truly get, but conditions like this are still considered to be normal from Late Fall all the way to Mid Spring (April), with colder years bringing blizzards all the way into June.
(Click to enlarge the panorama and view it in full resolution). Mt. Jacket towers over Cedar Valley, offering views of the city on its south face, moderate views of Peak on its west face, and heavenly views of the Kellan Valley on its north face. On very clear days, something that isn't too common in the Pacific Northwest, one can see the skyscrapers of Downtown Kellan and nearby business districts which are some 19+ miles away. Another panorama of Mt. Jacket, this time looking over its west face that towers over the west part of Cedar Valley, since the valley's shape curves around the western and southern sides of the mountain in an L-shape, although some of the city extends to the eastern base of the mountain as well. This neighborhood is less dense than the center part of the city and originally served as a summer home for "snow sports celebrities" and other affluent people from all over North America when Cedar Valley was still a resort town. In this picture you can also see a non-accumulating snow flurry rushing over the city one July morning, which isn't considered a bizarre occurrence in the city.
More of Cedar Valley's downtown area, which used to be a bustling regional shopping district neighborhood in the 1940s that is now simply a local commercial neighborhood with mixed-used buildings and basic-tier shopping opportunities.
A close-up alternative of the panorama earlier in the entry that shows Downtown, as well as Quinnston Lake, in much better detail. In a normal year, the lake starts to freeze over around late November in its shallower areas, and by February 90% of the lake becomes completely frozen. The lake's ability to support activities like ice-skating is a surprising toss up, as in warmer years the lake will either be frozen over by a very thin and weak layer of ice or filled with large and unstable ice chunks floating around it, while in colder years the entire lake sometimes has the ability to freeze over with very thick ice, allowing for fun ice-skating and winter-themed activities as well as daredevils driving their lifted trucks over the ice to impress the trees sitting on the lake's shores. It is believed that the lake is left from a former glacier that used to occupy the same valley the city is built in, and it also used to serve as the headwaters for a 14 mile seasonal river that flowed down into the Kellan Valley and into the Strait of Georgia before snow resort developers terraformed parts of the valley and removed the river completely.
A small four-block apartment "district" on the northwestern shores of Quinnston Lake, which usually enjoys great views of Downtown as well as the mountains east and south of the city. These apartments are part of the Cedar Valley's new young mayor (young when he was elected) to jumpstart the city's economy and were built very recently with the oldest only being eleven years old, in contrast to the fact that nearly all of the single-family homes in the city were built in the 1940s.
A typical residential neighborhood in the northwestern portion of the city.
Another typical residential neighborhood, this one in the East-Central portion of the city. You can see two mansions in the picture (with another off-screen at the end of the block). The larger one with the blue tennis court serves as the mayor's mansion, and was originally made to impress tourists and political visitors coming into the city when it was still a famous snow resort, but since it was finished only a couple of months before the winter of 1949-1950 it went completely unnoticed for quite a while and basically just served as eye candy for locals.
A panorama of an unnamed plateau west of Downtown that is home to Henderson Inc., a company best known for Original Media as well as it's phone brand that has made it the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world and also earned the company a #4 spot on the Fortune 500. It is worth noting though that while Henderson Inc. owns all real estate on that small plateau, it doesn't actually need or use all of it and instead rents it out to other companies, like the tall blue tower to the left of the image. Original Media is known for its numerous TV shows that have been compared to the likes of HBO and Showtime, as well as some of its very successful movies. The company's presence since it was founded in 2011 (meaning it became the fourth largest company in the world in just seven years) has had a profound effect on Cedar Valley's culture and economy. While the city's population has never really been considered "old", Henderson Inc. has brought quite a lot of young workers to the city (however, since the company employs over 78,000 people at it's main campus most of its employees reside down in the valley in bigger cities like Sapien). Even though this has revitalized the city's commercial scene, it has simultaneously caused strain on the city's traffic infrastructure during rush hour and during events being hosted by the company since public transit in a town of 26,000 people obviously isn't world class.
The Madison Gallery, pictured in the center, was a joint project between Henderson Inc. and the Madison Sisters Theater Collective. In addition to hosting most of Henderson Inc's own personal events (like its annual developer conference), the theater draws in crowds in the tens of thousands from all over Greater Kellan as it hosts concerts, plays, conferences, and more. Cedar Valley only has one direct freeway connection to the Kellan Valley and it's 3.9+ million residents through the Vancouver Island Freeway as well as an indirect connection through Peak via the Valley Connector that takes much longer. This means that when people from the Kellan Valley, most from Arlington County (which is the same county Cedar Valley is in) travel to the Madison Gallery for events the city's single direct freeway connection and it's mere four lanes gets bottlenecked, sometimes for up to seven miles. Also, in this picture you can see some low-level clouds rolling through the area.
The main building of Henderson Inc. that houses it's most central operations.
More July snow flurries fall in Cedar Valley.
The Cedar Valley Municipal Airport which, as most have guessed, is closed for large portions of the year due to too much snow. Obviously, there are ways to keep it in operation year round but its low traffic has made year-round operations seem pretty pointless. The airport is located on the "Eastside", which residents use to refer to the portion of the city east of the Vancouver Island Freeway.
A residential neighborhood slightly north of the airport.
A screenshot of Cedar Meadows during a snowstorm in April 1946 when it still existed. When it was operating it was the largest ski resort in Cedar Valley and one of the largest on the West Coast of North America at the time.
The same location today during a July snow flurry, with the mountains winter snowpack almost fully melted. In 1950, a ridiculously deep snowpack, as well as avalanches and flash floods triggered by heat waves later in the year completed destroyed the resort. Residents and emergency personnel finally returned to the city in Septemeber after the snowpack became low enough (it never fully melted that year even after multiple heat waves, the only time Cedar Valley's snowpack ever failed to melt before the start of the next snow season). They came back to find Cedar Meadows completely destroyed, as well as every other ski resort in the area, like it was never even there with only some scattered debris and fallen trees remaining.
In an interview for a local news station regarding Cedar Valley's history, Joey Palmer recovered an old postcard that his grandmother sent to her uncle in 1943 after moving to Cedar Valley and visiting it's many ski resorts.
Google search results for Cedar Valley (for those of you wondering how I did this, all I did was use Chrome's inspect element tool).
Climate averages for Cedar Valley. Note how even though it is not as cold as other places in Canada (something it has in common with most of Canada's West Coast), high precipitation due to its location in the Pacific Northwest, its elevation, and orographic lift create very high snowfall accumulations, with the amount of snowfall the city receives in one month alone matching what many places see in an entire year. It isn't that surprising though, as most of the snowiest places in the world are located in mountainous areas of the Northern Pacific (Japan, Alaska, Pacific Northwest, California) simply due to their high precipitation, with many mountain peaks like Mt. Rainer in Washington being known for receiving a record of over 1000 inches (2540 cm) of snow in one year.
Climate averages for Kellan included for comparison.
SIMplemente | Thanks! Numerous downtown areas with towering skyscrapers to love throughout Kellan.
prtsc5 | Sadly SimCity 4 isn't really the type of game that allows region sharing; in order to share my region I would also have to post my plugins folder as well which is nearly 5GB large, not too mention potential compatibility issues as well. If I could I definitely would.
nRVOUS | The coastline is the way it is because I originally planned to have a bunch of docks/marinas/harbors lining the coast, but then abandoned the idea due to the lack of available plugins online. I might decide to change it sometime in the future.
The British Sausage | Glad you like it, I was aiming for each of the city tiles on flat land to not look like they were copy and pasted.
Kingkhufu | That would be a great idea if I made Kellan with cities skylines, which would make region sharing for collabs much easier.
Links for articles about the winter of 1949-1950 in the Pacific Northwest for those who are interested (as well as an Imgur gallery with screenshots of climate data from selected cities).
Well, that's it for Update 2. Hope I didn't bore you too much, this update was over informative but I'll try to keep all of the exposition down in future updates. Look out for Update 3!