Talk of snow in San Francisco keeps water cooler hot 

Will it snow in The City? Probably … maybe … no?

Depending on where residents are getting their weather forecasts, some San Franciscans are preparing to bust out the sleds this weekend while others simply expect just a cold, rainy day in The City.

So why is it so hard to predict snowfall in the Bay Area? The short answer: “Because we don’t get snow,” said Diana Henderson, a National Weather Service forecaster.

Forecasting in the Bay Area is particularly difficult given the conditions of the Pacific Ocean and direction of the winds, according to the weather service.

Ocean temperatures during this time of year usually range between 50 and 52 degrees. Cold and moist air moving down the Washington coast can settle above the ocean’s surface. During the night, that air can plummet to below freezing temperatures and result in snowfall.

With the mixing elements, forecasters see a chance of snow, but not the heavy kind that often falls on the East Coast, Henderson said.

But while the experts are busy trying to predict the future, city residents are making up their own minds.

“I would say it might ... snow. But it’s not going to stick,” said Michael Mays, a 24-year-old San Francisco native. “Especially like downtown. I see it’s somewhat of a news story,” he said, citing the lengthy absence of snowfall in The City. “But it’s a slow news day if that’s the headline. ‘Snow might be coming ... oh, my God.’ There’s definitely a lot more to be covered than snow.”

Others residents are familiar with the possible snowfall.

“I’ve heard people talking about it,” said Anlynn Lee, who moved to San Francisco from Indiana a few years ago. “I’m really accustomed to snow. I’m not looking forward to it. But if it happens, it happens. I actually moved here because I didn’t like the snow.”

Possible snowfall that resembles showers will fall at 1,000 feet and above, with some sticking at sea level, but not much, said Henderson.

Snow is expected to flake and flurry Bay Area peaks, such as Mount Tamalpais and San Bruno Mountain.


Flurry of forecasts

TV meteorologists and weather forecasters quoted in the local press have had evolving predictions on whether there will be snow in San Francisco this weekend.

  • Feb. 21: It may “possibly” snow in downtown San Francisco (Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
  • Feb. 22: “Late Fri-Sat.: could bring snow to 500ft or even sea level.”  (KRON4 tweet)
  • Feb. 22: “[S]now all the way down to the lowest level in San Francisco is a real possibility.” (Chronicle)
  • Feb. 23: Snowfall “not likely” in The City. Snow level not supposed to dip below 1,000 feet (Examiner)
  • Feb. 24: “Saturday a.m. still looks like the bullseye for low snow. Very similar to Feb 1976” (KTVU tweet)
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