Freezing temperatures are expected to grip much of Northern California over the next several nights, prompting officials to open warming shelters to protect unhoused people from the threat of hypothermia.

The blast of cold air is expected to arrive Sunday and continue into Wednesday, dropping temperatures to 32 degrees or colder in parts of the Bay Area. To the east, howling winds are expected to accompany snow showers that could drop several inches of fresh powder over the Sierra Nevada.

The National Weather Service issued a freeze warning for most inland portions of the Bay Area until 9 a.m. Monday. A frost warning also was issued for other portions of the Bay Area closer to the Pacific coast or the San Francisco Bay shoreline, due to overnight temperatures that could drop below 36 degrees.

The coldest areas will include the Santa Clara Valley, the Santa Cruz Mountains, the East Bay hills and the inland East Bay valleys, the weather service said. Low temperatures are expected to reach 30 on Sunday night in San Jose before dipping to 29 on Monday night. Oakland should drop to 35 degrees on Sunday night, while Pittsburg should reach 33 degrees. Both cities should experience lows in the 30s for the next few days.

“That’s definitely a concern, because temperatures being that cold over multiple days are particularly dangerous for folks who are unsheltered,” said Sean Miller, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

Warmer coastal winds might help raise temperatures slightly along the Pacific Ocean. San Francisco is forecast to reach a low temperature of 38 degrees Sunday night.

A few scattered, light showers could grace the Bay Area on Sunday, though rainfall totals should be paltry at best. Some areas could see a tenth of an inch of rain, though most areas can expect just a few hundredths of an inch of precipitation. The greatest chance for precipitation is south of the Golden Gate Bridge and along the Peninsula.

“It’s a pretty moisture-starved system,” Miller said.

Several warming shelters are expected to open Sunday night and remain in service through the early part of this week, including a dozen daytime warming centers across Santa Clara County. Anyone seeking information about overnight warming locations can call a county hotline at 408-385-2400 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. for placement.

In Alameda County, around 10 emergency shelters and warming centers are being opened for people seeking refuge from the cold. In West Oakland, for example, the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Alameda County also is encouraging people to visit its 100-bed shelter at 675 23rd St. Also, a winter shelter is expected to open in San Rafael on Sunday and Monday nights.

People also can call 211 for help finding a bed, authorities said.

Over the Sierra, about 3 to 8 inches of snow are expected to fall on Sunday and Monday over Donner and Echo passes. By Sunday morning, authorities had already instituted chain controls along Interstate 80 through the Sierra due to snowy and slick conditions.

Reporter Ethan Varian contributed to this report.


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