SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Some wild and unusually cold weather on Monday night was turning many Bay Area peaks white as a rare snowfall hit the region.
The latest storm system accompanied by a blast of frosty Canadian air found snow falling Mount Diablo, Mount St. Helena and Mount Hamilton earlier in the day. By nightfall, measurable snow was dusting trees in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
The chilly weather also lead to widespread hailstorms across the Bay Area, with reports of hail in San Francisco, the North Bay and several parts of the East Bay.
While rain and hail fell at lower altitudes, a KPIX 5 camera that traveled up Loma Prieta Road to more than 2,000 feet above sea level in the Santa Cruz Mountains found a winter wonderland.
“It’s exhilarating,” said Kat Davies Janes of Santa Cruz.
Davies and her husband Tomas Ello drove up to the pass at about 3300 feet to gawk at the white stuff and build two tiny snowmen.
“Driving around it looked like rain, but then it started floating around,” said Ello. “And then we realized, ‘Wait, that’s not rain, that’s snow.'”
There was no snow along Highway 17 as of 10 p.m. Monday night, but there was a chance that there could be some small amount of accumulation overnight. Police and Sheriff patrols are standing by just in case conditions get worse overnight.
Wet, slushy and snowy weather was experienced all over the East Bay, from Mount Diablo down to just above sea level.
Bay Area residents reported everything from afternoon hail in Walnut Creek to evening slush in Oakland to snow on the Richmond-El Cerrito border.
We’ve had snow flurries, a little bit of rain, a little bit of hail. It’s been coming and going throughout the day, said Cameron Morrison, the Supervising Ranger at Mt. Diablo.
By late afternoon, rangers had shut down the road to the top of Mt. Diablo at the Juniper Campground parking lot, fearing road conditions would worsen. Visitors were forced to stop short of the summit.
“It’s cold! It was hailing earlier and we had nothing to do, so we said, ‘Let’s go to Mt. Diablo to see the snow,'” said Mt. Diablo visitor Kevin Holt, motioning to his son.
Walking past the closed gate higher up on Mt. Diablo, there were flurries of snow falling and sticking in some places. There was also heavy wind and very low visibility.
But the snow didn’t just hit high elevations. Shocked KPIX viewers sent pictures of light snow dusting cars and parking lots in Richmond and El Cerrito. There was enough to even make a small snowball.
Snow was falling in the North Bay too, with the volunteer fire department in the Mayacamas Mountains of Sonoma County tweeting photos of a half an inch of snow at 1,700 feet.
The National Weather Service said there’s an 80 percent chance snow will fall around 2:30 a.m. at Twin Peaks in San Francisco, but the chances the snow will stick to the ground is low.
Icy conditions contributed to a nasty crash in the North Bay Monday night. Multiple cars crashed on southbound 101, just south of Marin City at around 8:30 p.m.
Three lanes were closed for almost an hour. The slush from heavy hail was visible on the side of the road. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt.
Law enforcement agencies across the Bay Area were cautioning drivers about the weather conditions.
Oakland police put out a weather alert for the Oakland Hills. They said there could be 2 to 4 inches of snow and warned of possible road closures.
The San Mateo County Sheriff also tweeted about hazardous conditions from snow and potential black ice.
Potential hazardous driving conditions were expected on in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Highways 9, 17, 29, 130 and Grizzly Peak Boulevard in the Berkeley Hills between through Tuesday morning.
The weather service issued a Winter Weather Advisory for elevations above 1,000 feet in the Bay Area from late Monday afternoon through Tuesday morning.
Monday night will have a slight chance of thunderstorms in the evening and showers likely. Some thunderstorms may produce small hail in the evening. Lows will be in the lower to mid 40s. West winds will be 10 to 20 mph.
Tuesday morning will see scattered showers with temperatures in the upper 20s to upper 30s, then clearing in the afternoon. Highs will be in the low to mid 50s.
The cold temperatures Tuesday and Wednesday nights will threaten vulnerable populations, sensitive vegetation and outdoor animals.
Light to moderate rainfall is predicted, and stronger showers and isolated thunderstorms may bring brief heavy rain with possible hail and lightning.
Rain amounts will be less than an inch in urban locations and up to an inch and 1.5 inches in the wettest locations.
February 5 has historically been a good day for snowfall in San Francisco. On Feb. 5 1887, 3.7 inches fell during the day – up to 7 inches
on Twin Peaks and 5 inches in the downtown area.
On Feb. 5, 1976 San Francisco received an inch of snow and up to 5 inches on Twin Peaks.
On New Years Eve in 1882, 3.5 inches fell in the City between 11:30 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.
There have been 11 days when snow was recorded near sea level in San Francisco.
© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.