Winter storm brings rare snowfall to East Bay with more expected

For the first time in his life, Jonas Weldon got to see snow fall, something he’s never done having grown up in Oakland.

"My mom comes out of her room and says, ‘Jonas, look outside. It’s snowing!’" he said. "You could really see the snowflakes coming down and then after a little while it started covering the street and our car."

Their home on Skyline Boulevard was just one spot in the Bay Area that experienced snow, amid a unique winter storm.

A blast of arctic air mixing with moisture off the Pacific Ocean created a perfect recipe for several people in the East Bay hills to capture what looked like a winter wonderland.

The snow began to fall just before 8 a.m. Thursday and didn’t stick long on the ground before melting away.

"I put it on my palms to see what it felt like. It was just beautiful," Weldon said. "I wish it stuck around for longer."

The National Weather Service said it was the result of Canadian air plunging southward right along the California coast causing the snow and wintery mix to occur. And it's expected to happen again by Friday morning.

"It’s relatively rare," said Ben Garcia with the NWS. "It’s not like we don’t ever see it. But it’s probably more of a once a decade type thing that snow would actually stick up in the Oakland or Berkeley hills."

Garcia said the last time there was a dusting of snowfall was in 2019, in the Berkeley Hills.

"If it wasn’t cold, we’d be talking about widespread rain across the area," he said. "We fully expect up in the hills around the area to have fully stuck snow [Friday]."

Thursday’s snow came as a surprise to many of those people living below 1,000 feet in elevation.

"It’s not something I expected to see," said John Vantine who moved to Oakland several years ago. "It’s a little bit concerning but also a bit nostalgic. It reminds me of growing up on the East Coast."

Vantine was out for a run with a friend in Redwood Park in Oakland when he noticed the snow starting to fall. He took out his phone and started recording.

"It was cold but didn’t feel cold enough for snow," he said. "We got back to the parking lot and it just started coming down. I couldn’t believe it!"

Further east, it wasn’t quite snowman-making weather on Mt. Diablo, where most of the snow didn’t stick. But the frosty roads and ice-covered trees brought adventure-seekers to the summit to see and feel the elements.

"It’s cold out here! Snowing in Cali, that’s something you don’t see very much," said one visitor who drove to the peak from Alamo.

"No snowballs, but there were flurries," said Desmond Pavlac, from Martinez. "Definitely felt a chill."

Pavlac and his 5-year-old daughter Charlotte drove up the long windy road, hoping to see some snow. Pavlac said it was still exciting to experience this rare winter storm. They watched the clouds pass by from inside their vehicle, to stay warm.

"We’re drinking hot chocolate. I brought the camp stove up with me. We cooked it up in the back of the 4-Runner.

"I think it’s beautiful," said Miguel Lorenzo when he saw the snowy trees at the summit. Lorenzo and his friends took pictures and enjoyed the winter weather, even if they weren’t dressed for it. Lorenzo wore sandals and didn’t bring a jacket. He said he came straight from work when he saw the dusting on the mountain from a distance.

"We were working in Walnut Creek. And we saw at lunchtime it was snowing. And so we came here after work. We’re having fun!"

Forecasters expect round two to move in overnight Thursday, blanketing the East Bay hills by Friday morning. More significant accumulations are expected in higher elevations.

Brooks Jarosz is a reporter for KTVU. Email him at and follow him on Facebook and Twitter @BrooksKTVU

KTVU's Elissa Harrington contributed to this story.