Bay Area snow? What's in store for next week's storm

The Bay Area is set for sunshine and blue skies over the holiday weekend as a storm brews into next week.

The wet weather pattern is expected mid-week bringing with it the possibility of low-level snow, according to meteorologists.

After a largely dry February in California, forecasters said the new storm system could bring extended precipitation.

The wet weather is supposed to move into the Bay Area starting Tuesday night, it will likely stick around through Friday. 

The storm will bring off and on showers. cold temperatures, strong winds and snow with it. 

In the state’s far northwest snow levels could drop to nearly 500 feet (152 meters) late Tuesday and overnight, the Eureka weather office said. In the Central Valley, a similar outlook for Wednesday was issued by Sacramento forecasters.

"This is going to be an exceptionally cold airmass," UCLA climate scientist David Swain said in an online briefing.

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But he cautioned against taking literally weather model maps showing significant sea level snow in Northern California. Rather, he said, locations between 1,000 and 1,500 feet (305-457 meters) could see accumulating snow.

Some areas in the Oakland Hills, for example, reach 1,500 feet, bringing a chance of snowfall in those higher Bay Area elevations.

The expected precipitation is more good news for the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which supplies about a third of California’s water.

The snowpack is above average due to early winter atmospheric rivers that hit the state but water officials have worried that the gains could be eroded if the rest of winter returned to the dry conditions that fueled years of drought.

San Francisco’s rainfall total, for example, is well above average for the season to date because of the early storms but it is almost an inch (2.5 centimeters) below normal for this month.

Forecasters noted that the coming storm is not an atmospheric river and without a deep tropical plume of moisture the precipitation totals will likely only add up due to long duration, which can happen when systems stall.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.