Mission Peak, snow Snow in the East Bay hills Heavy snow pounded the Lake Tahoe region Snow Winter map

An autumn storm brought a surprise blanket of snow to the Bay Area. It not only covered the highest peaks around the bay, it also dusted some cities a few hundred feet above sea level.

The South Bay mountain tops in Milpitas saw the most snow. A record six inches were recorded at the Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton in San Jose. Snow also reached the top of Fremont's Mission Peak. The Oakland Hills also looked like ski season in the Sierra Monday morning.

Conditions on Mt. Diablo were very cold Monday evening. One ranger told ABC7 six inches of snow fell there Monday forcing road closures. People in the area say they have never seen anything like it.

With snow sports being such a rarity on Mt. Diablo, the biggest challenge may have been figuring out how many kids to fit on a sled.

"We had our Christmas music on," said one woman. "It really felt like we were getting into the spirit."

In Clayton, that white Christmas spirit blanketed entire neighborhoods, covered cars, and created enough of an excuse for some to call it a snow day.

"I was actually on my way to work, but then I got the call to come up here," said Matt Hall. "So, I wasn't prepared."

Others were better dressed for the occasion.

"I don't think it's been 25 years since we've seen anything close to this," said one man.

At the base of Mt. Diablo, sun melted most of the snow that had accumulated by early afternoon. But, at 2,200 feet elevation, the flakes kept falling. Snow forced the closure of the main roadways. Some people turned around, but the die-hards hiked 4.5 miles uphill to the closest snow pack.

It was not enough for Justin Cooper that he just went snowboarding in Tahoe on Sunday.

"Either I walk for a couple hours and get some exercise or drive for four hours to get to Tahoe," he said.

Most did not even make it to the sledding hill.

"They wanted to come in, but we just couldn't do it today. We just didn't think it was safe enough," said state park ranger Gerald Aus. "There was a lot of rocks out on the road. We had a plow out as early as 5:00 this morning."

Rangers say they may be able to open the roadways on Mt. Diablo on Tuesday after they get them cleared.

About 3 to 5 inches of snow fell on the Altamont Hills between Tracy and Livermore. It stranded ten drivers on Patterson Pass Road. The CHP sent a pair of tow trucks to the rescue but one of them got stuck too. Finally, a scraper was called out to clear the way. A rancher in the area told ABC7 his cattle will need some extra attention now that the grass is covered in snow and a hard freeze may be on the way.

Later on Monday evening, few spectators were willing to sit on the metal bleachers when they watched the Acalanes High School girls varsity soccer team host Concord High. The girls braved the cold conditions with extra leggings and undershirts.

The inner East Bay valleys were some of the coldest areas on Monday night. It was only five degrees above freezing, around 8 p.m.

People are cranking up their heaters and experts say simply by changing your filter you can make a big difference.

"If you don't keep your filter clean, it's going to lesson the life of the heat exchanger, due to the fact that it's going to overheat and it will also will cost you more energy to heat your house," said John Menges, a clean air technician.

Exposed water pipes can burst in freezing temperatures. An East Bay plumber says just by insulating the pipe, you can save a lot in the long run.

"The water inside the pipes freezes and when water freezes, it expands and it forces itself out against the inside of the pipe and it ruptures," said Aaron Johnson from Barnett Plumbing.

A lot of what began to thaw out Monday afternoon has now refrozen, which makes road conditions ripe for black ice.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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