Snow in Tilden Park on Feb. 5, 2019. File photo: Alex Krolewski

A cold front passing through the Bay Area could bring snow to the East Bay hills later this week — maybe a dusting, maybe a flurry.

National Weather Service forecasts that Berkeley may drop to temperatures in the mid-30s from Wednesday night through Saturday as a one-two punch of storms sweeps down from Canada. In Oakland, temperatures are expected to drop into the high-30s over the same period. The NWS has issued both a wind advisory (Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday) and a frost advisory (midnight Wednesday through Thursday morning).

Snow is possible high up in the Berkeley Hills on Thursday or Friday morning. 

“It’s not out of the question that we see some flakes show up in the Berkeley Hills,” said NWS meteorologist Brian Garcia. 

He said snow may fall as low as 1,500 feet above sea level. Grizzly Peak is 1,758 feet. Snow is less likely in Oakland, where elevations around Skyline Boulevard are between 1,400 and 1,500 feet.

Will it be just a dusting or “a decent amount of snow” — up to a few inches? Garcia said the chances are “probably equal.” If it’s a dusting, whether it sticks will be determined by the temperature of the ground. 

The higher you are, the higher the chance of witnessing the white stuff: Mount Tamalpais in Marin has a peak of 2,579 feet and Mount Saint Helena in Napa has a peak of 4,342 feet. 

Most Berkeley and Oakland residents should anticipate some sporadic rain showers on Thursday and Friday — likely less than an inch over the two days — and wind gusts of up to 45 miles per hour (potentially 5 mph higher in the hills). 

Berkeley’s emergency warming center in the North Berkeley Senior Center at 1901 Hearst Ave. will open from 6:30 p.m. Wednesday through 8 a.m. Thursday, and soup and bread may be provided. The city will decide whether to open the warming shelter on a day-by-day basis through the storms.

Alameda County has a listing of winter emergency shelter resources, which includes the East Oakland Community Projects Crossroads shelter at 7515 International Boulevard and the St. Vincent De Paul Community Center and shelter at 675 23rd Street.

The last time it snowed in the Berkeley Hills was in 2019, when flakes landed in Tilden at elevations as low as 1,200 feet. The city’s largest snowstorm on record came on Dec. 19, 1922, according to the Berkeley Historical Society. Six inches fell that day in the flats, 8 inches in the North Berkeley hills and a whopping 2 feet at Grizzly Peak. 

The NWS doesn’t recommend driving when it’s snowing out due to potential black ice.

“Most people in our area are not too adapted to driving in wintry conditions, and so it becomes much more of a road hazard as well as a draw for our law enforcement or fire and paramedics to go help those people,” Garcia said. “Enjoy snow from a distance.”

Floods and debris flows are not expected with this event, as this February has been drier than normal. Despite the winter rains, Alameda County is still in moderate drought.

“Just because we had a prolific wet period in late December and January doesn’t mean we’re completely out of the woods, because it doesn’t take much for those new fuels to dry out,” said Dalton Behringer, NWS meteorologist. 

The coming rain could help: “The front door is not closing for us quite yet, so it looks like we could still get some rain in early March.”

Additional reporting by Oaklandside staff.

Correction: the elevation of Skyline and Grizzly Peak boulevards is roughly 1,500 feet above sea level, not 15,000 feet.

Iris Kwok covers the environment for Berkeleyside through a partnership with Report for America. A former music journalist, her work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, KQED, San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Classical Voice, among other publications. In her spare time, you can find her petting street cats or playing cello. She joined Berkeleyside in June 2022.