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March 20, 2023

Unprecedented snowfall hitting Bay Area and Santa Cruz Mountains this weekend

A rare snowfall has dusted the Greater Bay Area, as the National Weather Service is predicting more on its way over the weekend.

Highway 17 was closed in both directions between Los Gatos and Scotts Valley early this morning because of snow and fallen trees. As of 9am there was no estimate when the heavily traveled commuter route would reopen.

The federal agency posted a photo on Twitter today of the Santa Cruz Harbor that showed snow even landing amongst boats at sea level—with a rainbow in the background.

In a separate tweet, National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Garcia said there will be precipitation, including snow, in the area and all the way up to Humboldt and Mendocino counties.

“You can see all these clouds moving in Northwest California and that’s heading down towards our little neck of the woods here in the Bay Area,” he said in the video posted this afternoon. “Right now, we do have these winter storm warnings out for everywhere that is in elevations of 1,000 feet and above.”

According to Garcia, that doesn’t necessarily mean residents who live below that line won’t see snow, too.

“The highest accumulations will be above about 2,000-2,500 feet,” he said, adding another blast is on its way starting between 1-3am, lasting until tomorrow afternoon. “We could see quite a bit of snow.”

The National Weather Service forecast estimates there could be about an inch or so of snow heading this way.

Garcia says there’s even a 5% chance the coast will get hit with another batch of flurries.

“All that to say, be prepared,” he said. “Make sure that you stay safe if you’re heading out.”

Experts say low visibility and hazardous road conditions will present risks for drivers. Motorists planning trips along popular routes, like Highway 17, Highway 101 or Interstate 5 this weekend, should be prepared for icy conditions.

On Thursday evening, PG&E reported hundreds of customers across the Santa Cruz Mountains were dealing with power outages.

Santa Clara County has a location of warming centers across the country on its website.

The Morgan Hill and Gilroy libraries are among the local warming centers. Both are open 10am-6pm Feb. 24-25, and 1-5pm Feb. 26.

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