Does it Snow in San Francisco?

Does it snow in San Francisco?

One of my closest friends has been asking this question since he is planning to relocate to this amazing city.

The answer is YES, it does snow in San Francisco but on very rare occasions.

With almost 120 square kilometers, San Francisco is one of California‘s largest cities. 

Despite the fact that hot weather and snow are extremely unusual, San Francisco is nonetheless well-known among travelers. 

In this article, I will answer in detail the question “does it snow in San Francisco?”

Let’s get started.

Does it Snow in San Francisco?

As previously stated, the answer is YES

With almost 120 square kilometers, San Francisco is one of California’s largest cities. 

Despite the fact that hot weather and snow are extremely unusual, San Francisco is nonetheless well-known among travelers. 

Overview of San Francisco City

Does it Snow in San Francisco

San Francisco is a 121.4-square-kilometer-large coastal city in Northern California.  

The city was founded in 1776 and gained prominence during the 1849 California Gold Rush, being the largest city on the West Coast at the time. 

San Francisco has a population of 881,549 people and is the fourth and sixteenth largest city in California and the United States, respectively. 

San Francisco is home to various tourist attractions, including the historic Chinatown and the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as several household brand names like Twitter.  

Given the city’s low elevation, one has to question if it snows in San Francisco.

San Francisco has a diversified geography, which results in a variety of microclimates.  

However, the Mediterranean climate prevails in the city’s metropolitan area, with moist, mild winters and cold, dry summers. 

As you move inland from the shore, the climate transforms to continental. 

The winter season in San Francisco typically lasts from December until mid-March, with rainfall being the most common precipitation.  

Snowfall is uncommon because temperatures are usually above freezing.

Climate of San Francisco

Does it Snow in San Francisco

In comparison to California’s inland cities, San Francisco has its unique climate and practically every day has Mediterranean weather. 

Summers in San Francisco are long, comfortable, arid, and mainly clear, while winters are short, cold, wet and partially cloudy. 

Throughout the year, the temperature normally ranges from 45°F to 72°F, with temperatures rarely falling below 39°F or rising over 83°F.

From June to the end of October, the warm season lasts for over 4 months, with a mean daytime temperature exceeding 69°F. 

September is the hottest month in San Francisco, with average highs of 72°F and lows of 58°F.

From the beginning of December to early February, the cool season lasts 2 months, with a mean daily high temperature of less than 59°F. 

January is the coldest month in San Francisco, with an average low of 46°F and high of 57°F.

How Often Does it Snow in San Francisco?

Snow in San Francisco is a rare occurrence.

Only 10 measurable accumulations of snow have been recorded in the city since 1852. 

The most recent snowfall was in 1976, when around 5 inches of snow fell over the Twin Peaks neighborhood. 

In 2011, a light dusting of snow was also experienced in the city.

However, city dwellers are used to fog and cold weather.

San Francisco has a mild summer Mediterranean climate, which is prevalent along California’s coast. 

It has dry summers and rainy winters, and its climate is greatly influenced by the cool currents of the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay on the west and east, respectively. 

Because of the moderate temperatures, the climate is mild all year, with very little seasonal temperature difference.

Recent Instances of Snowfall in San Francisco

Between 1976 and 2011, the majority of San Francisco residents, particularly those under the age of 35, had never seen snow in the city. 

Snow, on the other hand, was anticipated to fall in 2011. 

A small snowfall was observed around the city, including Twin Peaks, on February 25, 2011, just before midnight, as predicted days previously. 

Because this was the first snowfall in 35 years, local television networks paused regular programming to provide up-to-date information.

Meteorologists also predicted that the snowfall might last throughout the next day. 

Residents were disappointed, however, because this did not happen. 

The small amount of snow that fell during the night of February 25 was insufficient to be measured.

Past Instances of Heavy Snowfall in San Francisco

Because snowfall occurs in San Francisco infrequently, and when it does, it only accumulates to depths of 1 inch (25.4 millimeters), one could be inclined to dismiss it as a non-snowy city. 

You’d be mistaken. The city has previously seen massive snowstorms, which buried the city in white blankets of snow. 

For example, on December 30, 1856, a severe snowfall pummeled the city, accumulating 2.5 inches (63.5 millimeters). 

The following severe snowstorm fell for five hours straight on December 31, 1882, accumulating to depths of 3.5 inches (90 millimeters).  

Another severe winter, arguably the snowiest in San Francisco’s history, occurred in 1887.

On February 5, roughly 3.7 inches (94 millimeters) of snow fell in downtown San Francisco, with deeper accumulations of up to 7 inches (177.8 millimeters) toward the west. 

The latest major snowfall in San Francisco occurred on February 5, 1971, with accumulations of up to 5 inches (130 millimeters) recorded in the Twin Peaks neighborhood area.

Reasons Why Snowfall is Rare in San Francisco

Having answered the question “does it snow in San Francisco?” Let’s look at the reasons why the white spectacle is a rare occurrence in the city.

San Francisco rarely experiences snow, and when it does, the temperatures aren’t frigid enough to make way for accumulation. 

Snow, on the other hand, is common in several of the city’s surrounding areas. 

The lack of frequent snowfall in San Francisco is due to the city’s closeness to the Pacific Ocean, which warms any moisture that falls in Northern California before it reaches the land. 

Both humidity and cold temperatures are required for snow to form. 

Northern California has a lot of moisture in the air, but the temperatures aren’t cold enough to make snow.

Even the infrequent snowfall that falls on the city does not linger long on the ground since the high temperatures ensure that it melts quickly.

Winter Weather in San Francisco


In San Francisco, December marks the beginning of winter. 

Average daytime temperatures in the metropolitan area range from 58.6 degrees Fahrenheit (14.8 degrees Celsius) to 46.7 degrees Fahrenheit (8.2 degrees Celsius) at night and early morning. 

During the month, temperatures never fall below the freezing point. 

December is a rainy month in San Francisco, with 3.18 inches (80.7 millimeters) of rain reported over a period of 11 days.


San Francisco’s coldest month is January, with highs of 58.1 degrees Fahrenheit (14.5 degrees Celsius) and lows of 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius). 

It is also the city’s rainiest month, with 4.72 inches (12 millimeters) falling.


Temperatures in February rise from those observed in January. 

This month’s average temperatures in San Francisco range from 61.4 degrees Fahrenheit (16.3 degrees Celsius) to 48.5 degrees Fahrenheit (9.2 degrees Celsius). 

The average precipitation for the month is 4.15 inches (105.4 millimeters) and is mostly made up of rain.


In San Francisco, the winter season ends in March. 

Surprisingly, despite being a winter month, March has never seen snowfall. 

Temperatures are generally higher than in February, with highs of 62.5 degrees Fahrenheit (16.9 degrees Celsius) and lows of 49.2 degrees Fahrenheit (9.6 degrees Celsius). 

Precipitation, which falls as rain, continues to be heavy, totaling 4.15 inches (10.54 millimeters) for the month.

Skiing in San Francisco

Does it Snow in San Francisco

San Francisco has no skiing landscape at all due to a lack of snowfall. 

Winter sports aficionados, on the other hand, need not fear because multiple ski slopes are within a three-hour drive of the city.

Here is a list of the best mountain resorts near San Francisco

Mount Shasta Ski Park

Four and a half hours of traveling from San Francisco will take you to Mount Shasta, a gorgeous place.

The 425 acres of land at this ski park are ideal for skiing, which is why skiers and snowboarders return to this ski resort. 

It’s also a nice place to stay for a few days because they have great cottages for visitors.

Boreal Mountain California

This ski resort is three hours from San Francisco and is one of several ski resorts in the Bay Area.

It gets about 400 inches of snow per year, which makes the terrain skiable and suitable for snow activities. 

Boreal also provides training for aspiring freestyle skiers and snowboarders.

Palisades Tahoe

This ski resort is well-known for hosting the 1960 Winter Olympics. 

It features about 6,000 acres of ski terrain for intermediate and advanced skiers.

In addition, the views at Lake Tahoe are breathtaking.

They do, however, have a wide area for beginners to play in the snow and try skiing. 

Palisades Tahoe also has a variety of lodging alternatives to select from. Restaurants in the area are also recommended.

Sugar Bowl Resort

The Sugar Bowl ski resort is the nearest to San Francisco. 

It is great for tourists who want to try skiing on a weekend trip to a ski resort.

It is much quieter than any other local ski resort in the area. 

This is why many intermediate skiers return for its well-kept terrain.

Skyline Bear Valley Resort

This magnificent ski resort is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. 

It is a little more than a three-hour trip from San Francisco.

This is a family-friendly resort with terrain for both beginners and specialists. They also have a variety of pleasant lodging options near the ski area, such as cabins and lodges.

This area is perfect for cross-country skiers and snowshoers, with over 3000 acres of skiable terrain. 

Final Thoughts on the Question: “Does it Snow in San Francisco?”

Does it snow in San Francisco? The answer is YES BUT ON VERY RARE OCCASIONS.

The city’s winter season is marked by rainstorms and bitter winds.

However, there are several sites in San Francisco where you can view snow. 

As a result, snow can be seen near a city with tropical weather when it is surrounded by mountains.

Snow in San Francisco Bay Area

Frequently Asked Questions

Is San Francisco the coldest place in California?

NO, San Francisco is not the coldest place in California. While San Francisco has a reputation for being cool and foggy due to its location near the coast, there are other places in California that are colder. Areas in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, for example, experience much colder temperatures due to their higher elevations.

Does San Francisco get ice?

NO, San Francisco does not typically get ice in the sense of frozen precipitation like hail or sleet. The city's relatively mild and Mediterranean climate keeps temperatures above freezing most of the time.

Does San Francisco have the 4 seasons?

NO, San Francisco does not have four different seasons. The city has a Mediterranean climate, which results in mild and relatively uniform temperatures throughout the year

What is the coldest month in San Francisco?

January. The coldest month in San Francisco County is January, with an average nighttime temperature of 46.4°F. The average daytime temperature in September, the warmest month, is 71.3°F.

What are winters like in San Francisco?

Winters in San Francisco are relatively mild with temperatures ranging between 18°C during the day to 9°C at night. The overall climate in San Francisco is Mediterranean, meaning that it can be foggy and windy. While winters are the wet season, it is not uncommon to have periods of sunny and dry weather.

Has it ever snowed on Christmas in San Francisco?

YES, but it has been more than a century since that occurred. On Christmas Day 1856, San Francisco received two and a half inches of snow. It has snowed a few times in Bay City since then, but never again on Christmas Day.

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