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Submitted by Tim Buckley on Fri, 02/25/2011 - 10:50am.
In a twist that seems a little too far-fetched even for Hollywood, Mother Nature has cooked up quite the winter weather screenplay for this year's Oscars. Yes, the glitz and glamor of the Academy Awards may just be upstaged by the wintry weather threatening the California coast. From San Francisco to the mountains of Los Angeles - snow may be flying this weekend as what's being called a "once in a generation storm" brings the coldest air in decades to the region.
An enormous dip in the Jet Stream coupled with a very intense area of low pressure are diving south into California. This is allowing unseasonable, and even record-breaking, cold to come extremely far south. As a cold front pushes south across the Golden State on Friday, temperatures will drop throughout the atmosphere - increasing the chances for snow in areas that simply never see the white stuff.
In the west, your temperatures typically depend on altitude, not latitude. This means that when forecasting snow, you can't simply draw a line across the map and say "snow to the north, rain to the south" like we do here in the East. Instead, you need to forecast "snow levels". For example, snow levels at the beginning of this storm will be around 5,000 feet. In other words, below 5,000' will be rain, and above 5,000' will be snow.
The problem is, heading into Friday night and Saturday the snow levels will begin to fall. Downtown San Francisco could see their first snow on the ground in over 30 years. In the Los Angeles area, snow levels are expected to fall perhaps as low at 1,500' or even 500' during the day Saturday. While the heaviest precip will be over by then, snow could easily still be falling from the sky.
The iconic Hollywood sign sits atop Mount Lee on the Santa Monica mountains. What's the elevation of Mount Lee you ask? It's a whopping 1,708ft! That means - if the snow levels drop below 1,700 at any point during the storm, it's quite possible that we could see a snow covered Hollywood sign just in time for Oscar weekend.
So what will we see on Sunday? Stars walking down the red carpet in scarves and parkas? Sounds like a big "two thumbs down!" to me!
Have a great weekend!
By: Tim Buckley