Chance of thunderstorms as rain moves through Bay Area

The first rain of the year Saturday drenched the Bay Area, bringing gusty winds and a chance of thunder.

The wet forecast for the weekend and middle of the coming week is good news for California’s snow reserves, which were at 67 percent of normal before the weekend, said Brendon Rubin-Oster, a National Weather Service meteorologist. Three to four feet of snow are expected to bury some parts of the Sierra.

“It’ll do lots of good for the snowpack, but it’ll be a hindrance to travelers,” Rubin-Oster said.

The chilly system will bring snowfall down to an elevation of 3,500 feet. A second system will follow right in the first one’s wake, with slightly warmer conditions, meteorologists said.

California Department of Transportation officials warned drivers heading to the mountains to keep a full tank, drive slowly and carry tire chains. Forecasters said whiteout conditions were possible.

Because the rain will fall at a relatively slow pace through the weekend, it’s not expected to have major impacts on the burn scars in Butte County. However, Rubin-Oster and other meteorologists were analyzing Saturday whether the charred land left from the Mendocino Fire Complex in 2018 could be an area of concern.

Officials issued a wind advisory for much of Northern California. Gusts were expected to reach up to 60 mph in the highest peaks and ridges, and San Francisco could see gusts of 35 mph. Forecasters said the wind could down tree limbs, blow debris and create difficult driving conditions.

Winds in the Sierra were strong, too. They forced Heavenly Mountain Resort to put many of its upper mountain lifts on wind hold.

“People should be mindful that it’s going to be breezy out there,” said Roger Gass, also a National Weather Service meteorologist. “Overall, it’ll be a messy weekend.”

The coastal mountains of the North Bay were expected to get up to 3 inches of rain, the heaviest in the region. San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and other cities could see up to an inch, Gass said.

Kimberly Veklerov is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @kveklerov

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