SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — If the brunt of Thursday night’s winter storm lines up perfectly with all the right elements, San Francisco may see snowfall for the first time in nearly half a century.

The Bay Area is under a Winter Storm Warning for the first time since 2011 and overnight lows are forecast to dip below 40 degrees.

The last time snow blanketed San Francisco was on the night of February 5, 1976. Children seized the opportunity by making snowballs and going sledding. (Watch footage shot by KRON4 in 1976 in the video player above).

A storm in 1962 also brought rare snowfall to San Francisco. 1976 and 1962 had La Nina winters, and cold arctic air blew down from Canada. 

KRON4 Meteorologist Lawrence Karnow explained that forecasting snowfall at very low elevations is akin to predicting if a baseball pitcher will throw a perfect game. “Everything has to go absolutely right to get really low snow levels. One minor change can change everything.”

Snow is seen in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1976.

Here are historic San Francisco snowstorms of the past century, according to Golden Gate Weather Services:

  • Dec. 11, 1932: 0.8 inches
  • January 15, 1952: 0.3 inches
  • January 21, 1962: 3 inches
  • February 5, 1976: 1 inch