Extremely Rare Snow for California Valleys

By Brian Lada, Meteorologist
December 7, 2013; 7:28 AM ET
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Play video A look at the weather forecast for the Southwest.

Snow is forecast to fall in unusual spots this weekend that have not seen a measurable snowfall in over a decade.

Additionally, cold air will settle in across the Golden State, challenging record lows for dozens of cities.

A system swinging across California will continue to deliver snow across the Sierra Nevada through Saturday, which is common for this time of year.

However, some of this snow will make its way down into the lower elevations of the San Joaquin Valley, a rare event for residents in cities such as Fresno.

"Fresno could have their first snow since Dec. 15, 2008," AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist John Gresiak said. "The last time they had 'measurable' snow was Dec. 20, 1998, when there was half an inch."

Little to no accumulation is expected across the valley floor, but 1 to 3 inches may be seen in the lower foothills, with upwards of 6 inches above the 1,000-foot mark.

Some higher elevations in Southern California, just outside of Los Angeles may have a few snowflakes as well on Saturday.

Not only will this system bring the opportunity for an extremely rare snowfall to parts of California, but also the next shot of cold air that will last into early next week.

This cold air will challenge record lows with temperatures at night dipping below freezing for many places inland from the coast.

Below-normal temperatures are not unfamiliar to folks in California with many areas already averaging several degrees below normal through the first six days of December.

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According to the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner's office, there have been four confirmed deaths in Santa Clara County this week due to hypothermia induced by the cold weather.

Santa Clara County is located just to the southeast of San Francisco.

Those who plan on spending time in the outdoors during this cold wave are encouraged to wear multiple layers to stay warm as a prevention from getting hypothermia.


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