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Rain and Snow, Headed This Way

Prepare for flakes at lower elevations.

If you’re lucky this weekend, you’ll stick out your tongue and catch a snowflake.

Low-falling snow may tempt our Mediterranean-climate-loving selves to play hooky on Friday, meteorologists say.

From the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Mt. Diablo range, meteorologists predict snow will falling on  anything above 1,000 feet Thursday night.

By Friday night, scattered precipitation could deliver snow at sea level in some spots—depending on when the really cold temperatures arrive.

“It has to be the right combination of factors, in just the right sequence,” said Jan Null meteorologist with Golden Gate Weather Services. “First, you need the cold air, then the precipitation, not just cold rain.”

The heaviest precipitation is set to arrive on the Central Coast on Thursday and is predicted to be over before the very cold air arrives that would bring snow in the lower elevations. The best guess is only a 50:50 chance, but you never know in the weather business.

“The temperatures are going to be the bigger story after that,” said Null. He expects a hard freeze on Saturday morning to Sunday, with lots of 20-degree readings across bay.

Still, on Friday morning you could very well see the Santa Cruz Mountains—which climb from 1,000 to 3,000 feet—covered with snow, Null said.

Law enforcement officials said they expect folks to head for the hills to flex their snowball-throwing muscles—and get their vehicles stuck when they pull off the road to play. Residents often don't consider that the ground underneath can be too soggy for traction.

"Pull out in a parking lot or a turn-out, someplace safe," said California Highway Patrol officer Amelia Jack, who sees the 911 calls all the time in the Santa Cruz Mountains. She urges people to think first.

"We call you a tow and we won't leave you stuck there, but it's a safety hazard when you pull out where you're not supposed to be." 

It also is treacherous for those who don’t have snowman-building-with-the-family on the agenda.

“We recommend you have a back-up plan if you go over mountains for your commute,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Anderson. If driving conditions are hazardous, Caltrans can shut down Highway 17.

If you do find yourself heading to the snow, share your photos with Patch here!

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