Snow atop Mount Tamalpais draws excited onlookers

Snow on Mt. Tamalpais Monday drew curious visitors to the East Peak parking lot, elevation 2600 feet.

At about 5:45 pm, sporadic flakes and flurries gave way to a steady snowfall, lasting for about 10-15 minutes.

It left a half-inch blanket of snow, with as much as three inches expected on the mountain overnight.

"We could see vehicles potentially driving off the road," Supervising Ranger Alexis Jones told KTVU, explaining her decision to close the road leading to the summit to vehicle traffic Tuesday morning.

The gate at Pantoll Ranger Station usually opens at 7 am, but won't open Tuesday until the upper mountain can be evaluated for safety, probably 9 am.

"This road could get people into trouble if they get a little out of control," said Jones, who is the State Park Officer in charge of Mt. Tamalpais .

In addition to accidents on icy or snow curves, Jones is concerned about people who will likely hike up and then ski or toboggan down.

"What we would hate would be a vehicle coming up the road and folks enjoying sledding down the road and have a crash," said Jones.

The mountain is popular for hiking and biking or simply taking in the panoramic views.

The families who showed up Monday afternoon had snow in mind.

"Hoping for enough snow to make a snowball, and we did catch a little bit of flakes," said Eric Poppe of Forest Knolls, "and it reminds me, when I was a kid, like five or six, we had about four inches of snow in Woodacre once."

Although a snowman wasn't possible, the kids cavorting in the East Peak parking lot were still excited.

"Maybe tomorrow, I'm going to make a snow angel, if it snows some more, "said Caddis Jones- Heemstra, 8, accompanied by her dad and younger sister.

"Yeah, I think it's crazy we can look and see the ocean, and yet it's snowing right here," chimed in Scott Heemstra.

A father and son from Mill Valley came directly from school, searching for snow flurries.

"I think snow is cool, and the rarity of it is amazing," said 12 year old Jonah Safaei, "and I'm still excited for tonight to see if we're going to get a dusting on here."

Safaei's dad was already offering to bring him back Tuesday.

"We get to see snow a few times a year when we go skiing, but to see it at home is unusual, interesting," said Niki Safaei.

Park Ranger Jones said she understands the allure of the snow, and hopes visitors get a chance to experience during this unseasonably cold weather.

"I'm hoping for something fun, three inches would be great," said Jones, "and I would love to see people come and experience Mt. Tamalpais in a way that's completely different."

Although the road past Pantoll Gate will be closed to vehicles Tuesday morning, hikers can trek the four miles to the summit if they wish, to take in the snowy landscape, should it last.