Nearly entire population of California expected ‘to see’ snow

SFGATE – By Amy Graff – Feb. 21, 2023

In a rare weather event, low-elevation snow is expected across California as a storm system ushers in exceptionally cold air into the state Tuesday through Saturday.

“Nearly the entire population of CA will be able to see snow from some vantage point later this week if they look in the right direction (i.e., toward the highest hills in vicinity),” UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain wrote on Twitter. “Snow remains very unlikely in CA’s major cities, but it’ll fall quite nearby.”

The system is forecast to spread into the northern part of the state Tuesday afternoon and evening, kicking up winds and bringing an initial chance of precipitation. The chance for rain, hail and snow continues in both Northern and Southern California through Saturday.

“The cold air drops down all the way around the state,” Jan Null, a meteorologist with Golden Gate Weather Services said. “There’s going to be a good dose of winter going on.”

Any place in the state that’s at 900 to 1,000 feet in elevation or above could potentially see a dusting of snow, as the system delivers a very cold air mass from Alaska and western Canada. Not all locations at 1,000 feet and above will see snow, but “the potential is there for some very high impact snowfall down to elevations that rarely see such events,” Swain wrote in his Weather West blog.

Along California’s North Coast, the weather service is forecasting heavy snow above 1,000 feet with the possibility of snow even falling at sea level as early as Tuesday and continuing into Saturday.

“We’re already seeing showers, and snow levels are starting to drop,” said Scott Carroll, a forecaster at the weather service’s Eureka office “It looks like the snow levels are probably running around 2,500 feet or so in the northern part of our area, which is near Crescent City. To the south, snow levels are closer to 5,000 feet in places like Ukiah and Mendocino and Lake counties. Those snow levels are going to be plummeting through the afternoon and the evening hours.”

While snow is possible at the beaches, hail is almost certain across locations at sea-level, Carroll said. The hail could impact roads in Del Norte, Trinity, Humboldt, Mendocino and Lake counties. “The hail could stay on the ground for awhile as opposed to melting,” he said.

The Bay Area is likely to see snow on all of its highest peaks from Mount St. Helena and Mount Tamalpais in the North Bay to Mount Diablo in the East Bay to Mount Hamilton in the South Bay. Snow is expected throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains. “The odds are you’re going to see white caps on the mountains in the Bay Area,” said Brayden Murdock, a forecaster with the weather service. The North Bay is likely to see the heaviest snow and has the highest chance for snow at the valley floor. (Get the complete Bay Area snow forecast on SFGATE.)

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Posted by Teri Perticone


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