Bay Area braces for chilly weather as cold snap hits


People taking public transportation had to bundle up on Wednesday morning. It was 31 degrees in Santa Clara.

Frosty is a popular Christmas character, and also a good description of the weather conditions for people waking up on the Peninsula. But there were few jolly, happy souls, because going outside meant dealing with the uncomfortable temperatures.

"Two days ago it was probably in the 50s and today it's 37," Nairie Krikorian said. "It's freezing!"

The CHP had Caltrans check the bridge on Interstate 280 just to make sure there was no black ice.

Nearby, Crystal Springs Reservoir put off steam fog, making it look downright wintry.

Christmas trees up at a Redwood City lot are used to the cold, but the workers aren't.

"It was cold," said Joe Shea with Honey Bear Trees. "There was frost all over the trees. I was freezing."

The firs are delivered from Oregon to Honey Bear Trees in Redwood City, where temperatures bottomed out at 32 degrees Wednesday morning.

Frost covered everything, but it's not all bad. Zach Love and his son Zenji found the bright side to the cold.

"It was probably the first time he's seen frost," Zach said. "So he got to touch the frost. It was very cold. There was frost on the fence, frost on the cars and frost on the roofs across the street. So, it looked like snow. He hasn't been to the snow yet, so he thought it looked like snow."

This cold weather is expected to last several more days. All of the Bay Area, except San Francisco, will be under a freeze warning from 9 p.m. Wednesday through 9 a.m. Thursday.

North Bay rescue center fills up as chilly weather hits

As the cold weather crept across the Bay Area, many sought warmth in shelters, including Santa Rosa's Redwood Gospel Mission.

"If you have no gloves and no hat and you're fortunate to have a coat or something to keep you warm, it's still not enough," resident James O'Rourke said.

Another man added, "A place like this will save you."

On Tuesday night they made room for almost everyone -- 80 people. But Jeff Gilman, who has run the place for 20 years, is not so sure they can do so Wednesday night. Upstairs, they will fill every bed and maybe even spill over into the chapel.

"More desperate equals people reaching their bottom and desiring to, perhaps, make a change," Gilman said.

A change prompted by weather. If, for some of us it means a coat and a scarf or a visit from the furnace repair man, then we're the fortunate ones.

Cold snap helps some businesses in the South Bay

People joke how thin our blood must be. Nobody wants to dine al fresco. And even indoors, people are cold.

"We have the space heater on 'cause it's an old building, and it doesn't really heat very well," Morgan Hill resident Jane Neilson said. "It's definitely drafty."

Then there's Carlos Perez, whose men's store Royal Clothiers in Morgan Hill is trying to warm things up by featuring tropical clothing.

Louie: "You're selling resort wear?"
Perez: "Well, this is California weather. It's not really cold. It's fantastic. It's a beautiful, sunny day."

A cold snap is good for some kinds of business. Steve Ludewig has acres of live and cut Christmas trees at the San Martin Christmas Tree Farm.

"Cold weather actually enhances the sales, both cold weather and rainy weather," Ludewig said. "There's more people who come out at that time. The people love to walk around and feel like it's really winter."

Another beneficiary is John Spina, who sells firewood at Oak Tree Woodyard in South San Jose.

"People all at once will decide that they want a nice warm fire, watching TV at night, it's a good thing," Spina said. They like a fire at this time of the year."

But the only fallacy about a cold snap is covering up rose bushes. Terry Reilly is co-founder of Friends of the San Jose Rose Garden.

"If the bud dies, that's OK," she said. "But the plant needs to know that the cold is coming, that the winter is coming, and start storing the energy."

Snow falls on the high Sierra

And speaking of snow, the winter conditions brought a fresh blanket to the high Sierra. Both snow and temperatures were falling for much of Tuesday in the Lake Tahoe area.

Three to four inches of snow fell on the mountains where scattered snow showers were expected Wednesday and more later on this week.

Chains or snow tires are required on Highway 50 into the Tahoe Basin. As of now, there are no restrictions on Interstate 80.

The fresh snow is whetting the appetite of skiers and snowboarders who have been taking their gear in for tune-ups and inquiring about rentals for the winter break.

Sierra ski resorts, including Heavenly and North Star, are open and making snow. Other resorts are deciding if they should open this Saturday.

Now would be a good time to download the ABC7 Weather App to get severe weather alerts, live radar, and hourly forecasts. Get it free here.

(ABC7 News reporters Matt Keller, David Louie, and Wayne Freedman contributed to this story)

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