Snow Falls on San Francisco After a 35-Year Wait
Published: February 26, 2011
Predictions had called for the possibility of the first significant snowfall in San Francisco since February 1976, when all of an inch fell, according to the National Weather Service. And just before midnight, several high-lying city neighborhoods, including Twin Peaks, at some 900 feet, reported light snowfall.
The scattering of flakes capped a weeklong flurry of activity among civic leaders and commuters — as well as dreams of flying down some of the city’s famous inclines.
“I can’t wait. It’ll be crazy,” said Marisa Belaski-Farias, 23, a graphic design student from Hawaii who has never seen snow in person. “I have a cardboard box at home. Hopefully there will be enough snow to sled.”
All Friday, it looked like that outing might have to wait. The storm brought soaking rain and howling gales in the early hours, but in classic San Francisco fashion — weather here can vary hour to hour and block to block — the morning rain gave way to clear skies and, in some quarters, profound disappointment.
“It’s a beautiful sunny day in San Francisco,” one Twitter user, LNSmithee, wrote in midafternoon. “Under normal circumstances, that would be great. But earlier this wk, we were promised snow.” (An unhappy emoticon was attached.)
But just before midnight, those snow showers fell, inteterrupting local televsison broadcasts for up-to-the-minute reports. Meteorologists were reporting the city might — just might — get a dusting on Saturday as well, as a Canadian cold front lingered over the city and spotty showers moved in from the ocean. But according to Chris Stumpf, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Monterey, Calif., “It’s going to be a little bit harder to get it to sea level.”
The very possibility that San Francisco could see snowfall led to all manner of mock dismay by online wiseacres, including Isitsnowinginsfyet.com, a Web site that offered a blunt assessment of the outcome at that time: “No.”
Just before midnight, that assessment was updated: “Yes!”
There were more serious responses. Mayor Edwin M. Lee warned of unseasonable cold and asked city homeless shelters to increase capacity and outreach to the indigent. Crews planned to monitor roads for flooding, while the Department of Public Works planned to offer free sandbags.
Snow is more common outside the city, with small amounts accumulating at scenic mountain peaks. It is rare in San Francisco because moisture hitting Northern California is generally warmed by the Pacific before making landfall.
In this case, however, the rain was being met by a cold blast coming in overland from the north.
Still, for some, the hype turned their feelings to mush even before the storm came and went without leaving any snow.
“I’m already over the snow in San Francisco,” wrote Michael Owens, a Twitter user. “And it hasn’t even happened yet.”