Does It Snow In San Francisco?

Streets free from snow in San Francisco.
Streets free from snow in San Francisco.

San Francisco is a city in the US state of California, located on the west coast of the country and encompasses a stretch of the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. The city covers an area of approximately 46.9 square miles, most of which is in the San Francisco Peninsula, and has a population of roughly 884,000, making it the 13th most populous city in the US. San Francisco is the financial, cultural, and commercial center of Northern California, and is a popular tourist destination because of its cool summers, magnificent rolling hills, and numerous landmarks. The city has more than 50 hills, and its hightest point is Mount Davidson, which has an elevation of 928 feet. 

Climate of San Francisco

San Francisco experiences a warm summer Mediterranean climate, which is common along the coast of California. Its climate is characterized by dry summers and rainy winters, and is heavily influenced by the cool currents of the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay on the west and east, respectively. The moderate temperatures result in a moderately mild climate throughout the year, with very little seasonal temperature variations. Of all major cities in the US, San Francisco has the coolest daily mean temperature between June and August. The city rarely experiences snow, with only 10 measurable accumulations of snow recorded since 1852. The most recent snowfall occurred in 1976, when approximately 5 inches of snow fell on the community of Twin Peaks. However, city residents are accustomed to fog and cold weather.

Snowfall in San Francisco

Between 1976 and 2011, most residents of San Francisco, especially those younger than 35 years of age, had never seen snow in the city. However, in 2011 a rare chance of witnessing snow was predicted. The possible snowfall was forecasted days earlier, and on February 25, 2011, just before midnight, a light snowfall was reported around the city, including Twin Peaks. This was the first snowfall in 35 years, and therefore local television networks interrupted normal broadcasts to give up-to-the-minute reports. Meteorologists also reported the possibility of the snowfall extending to the following day. However, to the disappointment of residents, this did not occur. The tiny amount of snow that fell on the night of February 25 did not accumulate enough to be measured.

Why Is Snow Rare in San Francisco?

It rarely snows in San Francisco, and when it does, temperatures are not cold enough to allow for accumulation. However, snow is common in some regions that neighbor the city. The lack of regular snowfall in San Francisco is the result of its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, as any moisture that hits Northern California is warmed by the Pacific before reaching the land. In order for snow to form, both moisture and low temperatures are required. Northern California has a significant amount of moisture in the air, but temperatures are not cold enough for snow to be produced.


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