weather forecasters say there's still a slight chance for snow in the San Francisco Bay Area by Christmas, a rare occurrence even in presidential election years. Meteorologist Jan Null of Golden Gate Weather says there's a "single-digit chance" of snow in the normally temperate region because of an approaching cold front following right behind some rain.

Computer models

"It started showing up on some of the computer models in the first part of the week," Null says about the slight snow possibility, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper. But any snow will likely arrive Saturday morning and linger only briefly, Null said.

"It would be pretty much here and gone," she said. "The sun's going to be coming out on Saturday."

Mountaintops

KTVU television's Steve Paulson told the Chronicle that the best chance to see snow on mountaintops around the bay, if there is any, is to look east toward Mt. Diablo or south toward Mt. Hamilton. San Francisco last had a snowstorm in 1976, but the surrounding hills did get a noticeable dusting in 2009, the newspaper said.

Sunday is expected to be cold enough for snow, with temperatures in the 20s and 30s around the bay on Christmas Day. A winter storm watch has been issued to the east in the Sierra Nevada mountains and snow could fall today and tomorrow with as much as five feet expected above 5,000 feet.

But the Bay Area is likely to see, at most, some cold rain on Saturday night.

"Cold air behind the initial front and precipitation wave will generate showers and possibly thunderstorms...capable of producing brief heavy rain and hail," according to the National Weather Service in Monterey, Calif. "Snow is not out of the question for higher elevations around the area," the NWS said in a written statement.

Warm temperatures and rainfall have combined to make driving especially hazardous in Southern California, where hundreds of collisions have been reported on Los Angeles-area freeways. But back in the Bay Area, in Northern California, Sunday's weather is expected to be clear.

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