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What we know about the cold front coming to San Francisco this week

The Upper Great Highway was closed off to vehicles as rain came down in San Francisco on Jan. 5, 2023. | Justin Katigbak for The Standard

Following a Presidents Day weekend filled with sunshine and balmy temperatures, the San Francisco Bay Area is poised for yet another week of crummy weather. High winds, chilly temperatures and even snow is expected to hit parts of the region this week, according to the National Weather Service San Francisco Bay Area (NWS). 

Here’s a quick and dirty breakdown of how the region’s weather is expected to impact Bay Area residents.

Unusual Snowfall

Virtually all of California is expected to see snow this week, according to a report from SFGate. Though experts say the snow is unlikely to hit the state’s major cities—San Francisco included—hillier and mountainous regions above 1,000 feet in elevation will most likely see a blanket of snow Tuesday afternoon and evening. 

While snowfall in California mountains is hardly anything new, meteorologists and climate experts say that the combination of low temperatures and snowfall below 1,500 feet in elevation is very rare. If it does come, climate scientist Daniel Swain says that it’s more likely to hit in the latter half of the week. 

Bay Area residents looking for a weekend skiing getaway might want to reconsider traveling this week and even into the weekend. A winter storm advisory is in place in Tahoe, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday. Snow accumulations are expected to top 3-5 inches in Tahoe, and areas above 7,000 feet in elevation might see as much as 9 inches of snow. 

Experts say travel through the mountains during the storm will be dangerous. 

A new lift, Red Dog, opened at Palisades Tahoe over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend amid a record-setting snowstorm. | Courtesy Blake Kessler/Palisades Tahoe

Strong Winds and Waves

A wind advisory is in effect across the Bay Area and the Central Coast, with high wind warnings issued to southern coastal regions including Monterey and Big Sur. NWS says the wind advisory will persist from Tuesday through Wednesday at 1 p.m., and that residents should expect possible damage to trees and power lines. 

Gusts may reach up to 55 mph, meaning that structural damage could very well occur and debris from trees and buildings might cause problems for commuters and city residents. 

Surfers may want to lay low this week as well: NWS has issued a High Surf Advisory for San Francisco and surrounding coastal regions, warning of “dangerous swimming and surfing conditions and localized beach erosion.” The advisory remains in effect from 4 p.m. Tuesday to 4 p.m. Wednesday. 

Waves crash along the shoreline at the Fort Point parking lot under the Golden Gate Bridge on Jan. 5, 2023. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

Frigid Temperatures

Bundle up, because it’s going to be cold this week. Temperatures in the Bay Area may drop from an average of 60 degrees on Monday to the upper 40s by Wednesday. 

Forecasters say that the coldest temperatures will hit San Francisco on Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning, with temperatures ranging from 33 to 38 degrees. Some warn that the coldest interior valleys could even drop into the 20s.  

In anticipation of the freezing temperatures, NWS has issued a frost advisory that will go into effect on Wednesday and last through 9 a.m. Thursday morning. Impacted regions include San Francisco and coastline regions including Marin, Monterey and Sonoma. 

Rainy Weather

Though San Francisco might not see a lick of snow, it’s still predicted to get a healthy dose of rain this week. The broader Bay Area will likely see between 0.75 to 1 inches of total rainfall, and higher elevated places like the Santa Cruz Mountains might see up to 3 inches. 

San Francisco is expected to get between 0.5 to 1 inch of rainfall, though no widespread flooding is anticipated. 

A jogger makes his way around Lake Merritt in Oakland on Jan. 4, 2023. | Paul Kuroda for The Standard

Significant Closures, Services

The San Francisco Zoo announced it will close on Tuesday due to high winds. 

If temperatures get cold enough, some municipalities may open shelter options for unhoused individuals. Marin County said its Health and Human Services department will open an overnight shelter if the average nighttime low temperature dips below 38 degrees. 

National Weather Service Bay Area was contacted for comment.

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