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Cold snap deepens, light snow likely on local peaks

Below-average temperatures expected through next Wednesday

Bay Area residents should keep those coats and gloves handy for the next week at least, as temperatures are likely to dip even further and remain chilly through next Wednesday, a National Weather Service forecaster said today.

The cold snap broke records this morning in Salinas, where temperatures dipped to 28 degrees, breaking a record of 29 degrees that was set at this time in 2004, forecaster Bob Benjamin said.

Temperatures were at a seasonal low throughout the region this morning, Benjamin said, with thermometers dipping to 26 degrees at the Sonoma County Airport, 27 degrees at the Napa County Airport, 32 degrees in Redwood City, 43 degrees in San Francisco, 29 degrees in Concord and 42 degrees in Oakland. It was 36 degrees at Oakland International Airport.

Further south, Benjamin said, San Jose hit 34 degrees, and it was coldest in Moody Canyon in southern Monterey County where temperatures dipped to 14 degrees.

But today's chilliness is no match for what's to come, Benjamin concedes.

"Temperatures really dipped yesterday afternoon and early evening, and there were very cool temperatures this morning, but that's not as cold as it will get," Benjamin said.

An air mass settling in will cause cooler temperatures tonight and Thursday morning. Today's highs in the Bay Area will be in the 50s, and the wind is expected to decrease.

"Wind keeps temperatures warmer, and there will be little wind tonight," Benjamin said.

A freeze warning will go into effect tonight at 9 p.m., and will last through Thursday morning at 9 a.m., Benjamin said.

Residents are advised to protect plants -- especially citrus and other fragile plants -- by covering them or moving small plants indoors. The same goes for exposed pipes, Benjamin said. Covering pipes with insulation or towels or blankets can prevent the cold temperatures from freezing the pipes.

With rainfall expected on Friday afternoon in the North Bay and a light precipitous pattern for the rest of the region, Benjamin said roadways will likely be slick, and white caps may be seen in the region's higher elevations, such as Mt. Hamilton.

"Most hilltops in the Bay Area will probably have some snow -- people waking up Saturday morning might be able to see white caps, even snow above 1,500 feet," Benjamin said.

Temperatures are expected to stay below average during the rainy weekend, and won't start to come back up to near normal until next Tuesday or Wednesday, Benjamin said.

— Bay City News Service

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