Pacifica resident Dean Offenbach helps kids Andy and Bruce sled in Tilden Park on Feb. 24, 2023. They came to Berkeley just for the snow. Credit: Kelly Sullivan

The Berkeley Hills looked downright alpine Friday.

A cold winter storm that has dusted higher elevations of the Bay Area this week dumped around 3 inches of snow on Grizzly Peak by mid-morning, National Weather Service Meteorologist Sarah McCorkle said. 

And snow kept falling through the afternoon, resulting in the biggest snowstorm in the East Bay hills in well over a decade. Photos and videos shared on social media showed the rare sight of snow covering trees and blanketing the ground in Tilden Regional Park and along Grizzly Peak Boulevard. 

A view toward Orinda from Tilden Park on Feb. 24, 2023. Credit: Kelly Sullivan

Local residents took advantage by hiking, dog and cat walking, building snowmen, sledding and forming snowballs to pelt at their friends’ backs. 

Jay Sayre, who grew up in Denver and has been skiing since he was 2 years old, saw the weather forecasts Thursday night and headed to Vollmer Peak with a pair of old skies at 9 a.m. The UC Berkeley doctoral candidate chugged a cup of coffee and skied off the back side of the hill, gliding over the thin blanket of snow and occasionally over gravel, dirt, pavement and grass.

For the record, Sayre doesn’t recommend skiing when snow levels are below a foot unless you’re experienced and willing to sacrifice a pair of skis. 

“It’s definitely a novelty ski, but I’m sure the number of people who can say that they’ve gone skiing in Berkeley is a pretty small group,” Sayre said. He plans on going to Tahoe for the real deal next week.

Cal students Jonas Bar-on and Elise Joshi play with snowballs while on a run up Grizzly Peak Boulevard on Feb. 24, 2023. Credit: Kelly Sullivan

At Grizzly Peak, a small crowd of giddy snow-seekers had turned out, some making muddy snow angels. Many were UC Berkeley students seeking a getaway from everyday life; among them was Sophie Seymens, a UC Berkeley junior who grew up in Chicago and had sped through a 9 a.m. math midterm, finishing 20 minutes early, to ensure she wouldn’t miss her chance to see the rare Bay Area snow.

Cal students Nida Sinha and Sophie Seymens play in the snow at Tilden Park off of Grizzly Peak Blvd. on Feb. 24, 2023. Credit: Kelly Sullivan

Berkeley residents Matt Schumacher and Emma Lydon guided their 21-month-old daughter, Louisa Schubacher, as she approached her first snow, first with skepticism and later with delight. For Lydon, the snow brought back old childhood memories: In 2002, her mom pulled her out of elementary school for a day and drove her up through the Berkeley Hills to the same place so she could play in the snow. 

Matt Schumacher holds daughter Louisa as she experiences one of her first times in the snow on Feb. 24, 2023. Credit: Kelly Sullivan

“This is what we were trying to avoid when you grew up,” Schumacher jokingly told his daughter. Shortly before she was born, the couple had moved from Washington, D.C. to Berkeley, in part to escape the cold. 

Intrepid Berkeleyside environment reporter Iris Kwok spent the day ranking the pulchritude of snowmen she spotted:

As of Friday afternoon, a rain gauge at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory lower in the hills recorded 1.17 inches of precipitation over the previous 24 hours, according to the National Weather Service.

The service has issued a frost advisory from midnight to 9 a.m. Saturday.

While the Bay Area is due for more wet weather over the next several days, Berkeley isn’t forecast to see snow beyond Friday. The region will mostly get a break from rain on Saturday, outside of some isolated showers, before another round of storms drop between a tenth and a quarter of an inch on Sunday, and heavier rainfall of up to an inch on Monday. While some of the region’s higher peaks could snow, meteorologists don’t expect it low enough to reach the Berkeley Hills.

Snowfall in the Bay Area. Credit: National Weather Service

A spokesperson for the East Bay Regional Park District said all of its parks in the Berkeley and Oakland hills remained open Friday. Officials from the Berkeley police and fire departments did not respond to inquiries asking about disruptions caused by the snowfall.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. reported a weather-related power outage Friday afternoon that was affecting about 2,700 customers in downtown Berkeley and the Southside neighborhood.

The last time it snowed in the Berkeley Hills was in 2019. The city’s largest snowstorm on record came on Dec. 19, 1922, according to the Berkeley Historical Society. Six inches fell that day in the flats, 8 inches in the North Berkeley hills and 2 feet at Grizzly Peak.

Katie Knapp makes a snow angel off of Grizzly Peak Blvd. on Feb. 24, 2023. Credit: Kelly Sullivan
Ben Rosenberg and dog Luna play in the snow near Grizzly Peak on Feb. 24, 2023. Credit: Kelly Sullivan
A group of friends makes and throws snowballs on Grizzly Peak Blvd. during a snowstorm on Feb. 24, 2023. Credit: Kelly Sullivan
Jacqueline Alvarado, Alia Alvarado, Ines Sandoval Chung, Myra Sandoval, and Amaya Alvarado pose for a photo in Tilden Park on Feb. 24, 2023. Credit: Kelly Sullivan
Madi Nathan, Natalie Power, and Sofia Weidler play in the snow near Grizzly Peak on Feb. 24, 2023. Credit: Kelly Sullivan
Arthur Yee and Kimmie Szeto show Madeline Yee the snow in Tilden Park on Feb. 24, 2023. Credit: Kelly Sullivan
Heather Yamada Hosley and Cash the dog enjoy the snow in Tilden Park on Feb. 24, 2023. Credit: Kelly Sullivan
Snow-slicked Grizzly Peak Boulevard. Credit: Jesse Cortes
Snow on Seaview trail in Tilden. Credit: Bernardo Lopez

Nico Savidge joined Berkeleyside in 2021 as a senior reporter covering city hall. Born and raised in Berkeley, he got his start in journalism at Youth Radio as a high-schooler in the mid-2000s. Since then,...

Iris Kwok covers the environment for Berkeleyside through a partnership with Report for America. A former music journalist, her work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, KQED, San Francisco Examiner...