Light snow dust at low elevations in the Santa Cruz Mountains woke several people Thursday morning, and forecasters say more is on the way.
Parts of the Bay Area may receive several inches of snow Thursday evening as an intense cold weather system makes its way through the region. Widespread rain, snow and strong gusts of wind continue Thursday evening into Friday morning.
“It’s not often we get this cold air coming into California,” Brooke Bingaman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said of the “abnormal” storm.
Current radars show that the winter storm has already hit Sonoma County and will continue to spread across the Bay Area.
The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings and wind advisories throughout the Bay Area Thursday night, with snow, hail, thunderstorms and gusty winds in the forecast that could make Friday morning commutes unsafe. Parts of the region also have a frost advisory.
“We’re looking at snow that’s already falling in northwestern California, even down to the coast in Humboldt and Mendocino County, and it’s sinking into the Bay Area,” NWS meteorologist Brian Garcia said in a video statement.
Snow and wind gusts caused power outages in the Bay Area this week and closed Highway 101 for power grid repairs. As of Thursday evening, more than 22,000 Pacific Gas and Electric customers were without power.
“One of our bigger concerns is the fact that the wind will pick up as the system continues overnight,” Bingaman said. “It’s a cold air mass, so it gets cold in the morning. When people lose power because trees blow down and hit the power line, it gets really cold for people.
Wind gusts are estimated at 40 mph at lower elevations and up to 50 mph in the mountains. Bingaman said if there are widespread power cuts, residents could be without power for days.
Garcia said the highest snowfall would likely be over 2,000 to 2,500 feet, though flakes could make their way into the valleys and shoreline.
“There’s a chance that we’ll see snow down to the valleys and even to the coast, but we’ve got a very, very small chance, I’d say about 5%, that we’ll see some accumulation of snow.” snow on the coast,” Garcia said.
A first snowfall reached the Santa Cruz Mountains Thursday morning, with a total of 3 inches of snow at higher elevations.
“Be prepared. If you don’t have to drive tomorrow morning, don’t do it,” Garcia said. “Wait until noon when the showers pass. Make sure you stay safe.”