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San Francisco is consumed by the chance of snow

February 25, 2011 |  6:02 pm


The last time snow stuck on San Francisco streets was Feb. 5, 1976. But the prospect of white winter weather -– and a breathtaking historical photo spread in the San Francisco Chronicle –- has generated intense anticipation throughout the week.

With Friday’s sunny skies came disappointment, and more than a little mockery.

Rich Sloan, manager of the Sports Basement store in the city’s South of Market district, said he usually dresses down –- in shorts. But the news accounts drove him to wear his "big boy clothes" on Friday -– merino wool socks and a jacket. Then the sun shone. And shone.

"Our shovels aren't sold out yet," Sloan said jokingly. "We are seeing nothing. It’s all hype."

The Twittersphere also was a-twitter with good-natured pokes.

 "In San Francisco, still waiting, not for Godot, but snow," Frederik L. Schodt wrote Friday afternoon, adding that the weather was beautiful, if getting steadily colder.

"The lack of snow in SF today proves that god loves San Francisco and California," Keegan Youmans-Via noted.

A Florida woman, meanwhile, gave a shout-out to Al Gore, hinting that a rare San Francisco snow would bolster global warming warnings.

Still, weather forecasters said snow was still a possibility this weekend, with a 10% chance of flurries.

National Weather Service meteorologist Christopher Stumpf said the promised cold air was filtering into the region Friday afternoon. Heavier showers hitting the Eureka area were expected to move into the Bay Area through Saturday, with snow flurries down to 1,000 feet that could possibly hit sea level.

But the chance of it sticking -– as an inch of the white stuff did 35 years ago -- is "pretty unlikely," Stumpf said.

Cold temperatures are nevertheless expected to break records if a forecast Saturday low of 36 degrees, and 34 degrees at San Francisco International Airport, comes to pass -– edging out a recorded city low of 37 in 1962, another snow year. Temperatures should warm slightly on Sunday, Stumpf said.

The San Francisco Department of Public Works was mostly bracing for icy road conditions, preparing barricades and cones to close down roads -– particularly San Francisco’s famously steep grades, said spokeswoman Gloria Chan. But prospects of sledding down Lombard Street were remote, she conceded.

Meanwhile, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee warned residents to be on guard for freezing conditions. The city was preparing for cold rains by clearing debris from catch basins and sewers, Lee said, and planned increased outreach to the homeless to direct them to shelters. The shelter system was on standby to increase capacity if needed.

"The need for shelter and support for homeless residents is even greater during severe storms, and I want to ensure that those who need shelter can find it," Lee said.


Rains falling, but snow possible in low-elevation areas

Expected snow and icy conditions to close county roads in Station Fire burn area

Snow watch for San Francisco, parts of L.A. as cold storm moves in

-- Lee Romney in San Francisco

Photo: Will sunny weather give way to snowfall in San Francisco?

Photo: Los Angeles Times