On the heels of a sun-splashed weekend, winter is returning to the Bay Area on Tuesday with a quick and cold punch.
Just days after San Jose enjoyed a high of 71 degrees, a cold-weather system from Alaska is expected to deliver a burst of frigid air and rain to the South Bay. Temperatures in the Bay Area will top out in the low 50s, with showers expected in time for the Tuesday morning commute, according to the National Weather Service.
"It's a pretty cold system," said Austin Cross, a forecaster with the weather service. "We could see a dusting of snowflakes on the higher peaks, and it will be markedly colder than this past weekend."
Most of the rain is expected to fall between late Tuesday morning and Tuesday night, according to the weather service. Some areas may receive as much as a half-inch of the wet stuff.
Snow levels are expected to drop as low as 2,000 feet.
There is also a chance of thunderstorms and hail, according to the weather service.
The weekend sunshine was replaced Monday by gray and gloomy skies. The high in San Jose on Monday was 57 degrees.
The forecast is a far cry from the unseasonably warm and sunny conditions the South Bay enjoyed on Friday, when San Jose recorded a high of 71 degrees.
The Bay Area should see a break from the winter flash on Wednesday, with mostly sunny skies and highs in the mid- to upper 50s expected. There is a slight chance of rain on Thursday and Friday, with partly sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 50s predicted.
This week's rain is not expected to bring the Bay Area back to its normal totals for this time of year. After a drenching start to the rain season driven by heavy December showers, there has been very little rain and snow in Northern California.
Since Jan. 1, San Jose has recorded just .80 inches of rain. Oakland has registered .53 inches since Jan. 1, and San Francisco has recorded .45 inches. The gauge at Moffett Field has recorded .38 inches and Watsonville airport registered .78.
Since July 1, the start of the rainfall season, San Jose has registered 7.99 inches of rain, about 79 percent of normal.
"It's hard to say if this will really bring us back into more winterlike pattern," Cross said. "There are a couple systems that come through. But because they're coming out of the north, they are pretty light on the rain amounts.
"We're probably not going to catch up with where we should be for the year."
Contact Mark Gomez at 408-920-5869. Follow him on Twitter.com/markmgomez.