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Bay Area Snow May Fall As Low As 300 Feet

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Carlos Belasco of Livermore stops along Grizzly Peak Boulevard to admire the view of the San Francisco Bay area after a cold Arctic storm blanketed the Oakland-Berkeley hills with several inches of snow on Dec. 7, 2009. (AP Photo)

Carlos Belasco of Livermore stops along Grizzly Peak Boulevard to admire the view of the San Francisco Bay area after a cold Arctic storm blanketed the Oakland-Berkeley hills with several inches of snow on Dec. 7, 2009. (AP Photo)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5 / BCN) — Bay Area residents should gear up for cold, rain and even snow in some cases over the next couple of days, forecasters said Thursday.

While there may not be a snow day in downtown San Francisco, residents in the city’s highest elevations could be expected to catch glimpses of snowflakes.

“The best chance to get snow to sea level in San Francisco and around the Bay is Friday night,” said CBS 5 meteorologist Lawrence Karnow. “After sunset, the additional cooling will allow for a chance of snowflakes in many low-lying areas. The computer models suggest down to about 300 feet, but in a good downdraft it should make it all the way to sea level – but most likely won’t stick.”

Since San Francisco’s Twin Peaks neighborhood sits at about 900 feet, residents there should expect to see a light dusting of snow.

“As the atmosphere continues to cool across the entire Bay Area, reports of snow lower than 1,000 feet will become more common throughout the day on Friday, particularly in parts of the North and East bays,” said Karnow. “The hot spots are likely Napa and Calistoga, but we could get snow reports from Santa Rosa or Petaluma or even Livermore.”

Elsewhere across the Bay Area, “any of the usual sites will see snow like Mount Tamalpais and Sonoma Mountain, Diablo and Hamilton,” Karnow explained.

The system that is expected to drop the snow will pass through the Bay Area late Thursday and on Friday.

National Weather Service forecaster Charles Bell said the ideal conditions for snowy weather consist of icy cold temperatures followed by rainfall. This storm system, though, has it backwards.

Bell predicted that showers would precede scattered cold-air pockets.

“The timing is not the best,” Bell said. “But then again, that’s not to say that no one will see snow. The North Bay mountains and East Bay hills could see up to half a foot of powder.”

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for most Bay Area counties beginning at 10 p.m. Thursday. The wintry conditions were forecasted to continue through about 10 p.m. Friday.

Areas above 1,000 feet were expected to see about an inch of snow, while elevations of about 2,500 feet might accumulate two to four inches.

Spots above 2,500 feet could be covered in more than six inches of snow, Bell said.

Temperatures were expected to become progressively colder throughout the weekend, potentially setting records on Sunday morning, Bell said.

“It is unusually late in the year for us to be experiencing this kind of weather,” Bell said. “Typically, we see these kinds of cold fronts in late December.”

In response to the uncharacteristically low temperatures, a Freeze Watch was in effect for North Bay valleys on Friday night through Saturday morning.

“Freeze problems in the North Bay with temps into the 20s and low 30s early Saturday morning will become an issue,” Karnow warned.

Experts advised residents to insulate any pipes exposed to the elements, as they ran the risk of bursting as the water freezes.

The East Bay Municipal Utility District recommended that Bay Area residents insulate exposed water pipes and faucets with old towels or foam pipe wrap and shut off water lines feeding into irrigation valves.

In addition, the California Highway Patrol warned that overnight temperatures were expected to drop below freezing in Marin County, potentially creating hazardous road conditions there.

KCBS’ Melissa Culross Reports:

Black ice was possible on the county’s bridges and roadways, including Sausalito’s Waldo Grade and Mount Tamalpais.

Drivers were advised by the CHP to take precautions, including by slowing down, increasing the following distance between vehicles and checking that windshield wipers are working.

>> Bay Area Farmers Race To Prepare For The Cold

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)

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