snowball.jpgCold, wet weather will once again put an icy grip on the Bay Area this weekend, but San Francisco residents should not bet on snow just yet, a National Weather Service forecaster said today.

Talk began swirling today that snow could drop on San Francisco for the first time in 35 years, but forecaster Bob Benjamin said that while snow will more likely fall at elevations lower than last weekend, it is too soon to anticipate flurries in the city.

“We’re not forecasting snow in San Francisco at this time,” Benjamin said. “I’m not saying that it won’t happen.”

A southern-moving unstable cold front carrying moisture is expected to coast into the Bay Area as early as late Thursday, Benjamin said.

The front is expected to sit over the Bay Area through Saturday, bringing increased cloudiness and daytime temperatures in the lower to mid 40s.

Last weekend, snow blanketed the Bay Area’s highest peaks, dusting Mount Tamalpais and Mount Diablo as it descended to elevations of 1,500 feet.

Benjamin said the coming front will drop snow at even lower elevations, but that
predictions of snow below 1,000 feet would be “hit or miss.”

He said the approaching cold front “doesn’t appear to have the moisture content” of last weekend’s storm, which dumped about 4 inches of rain on San Francisco.

The lack of moisture means that sleet is unlikely, but snow mixed with rain could be possible.

“It’s not that stable of a moisture,” Benjamin said. “It’s more convective in nature, more showery.”

Storms bring snow to downtown San Francisco every couple of decades, with the most recent recorded snowfall in 1976, Benjamin said.

Since then, the weather service has received reports of snow mixed with rain “most every year in some key places,” such as Twin Peaks, Benjamin said.

The weather service will have more quantitative information to solidify its forecast as the week unfolds, Benjamin said. Predictions of snow will remain unreliable until then, he said.

If the coldest predictions materialize, “In some form, people at or near sea level will see snow in the air,” Benjamin said.

Patricia Decker, Bay City News

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