Major storm expected to hit Bay Area midweek, bring blizzard to Sierra

Following a fairly dry weekend, a series of light storms will sprinkle negligible rainfall on the Bay Area this week before a significant storm passes through Wednesday and Thursday, officials said.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service expect the first storm system, currently over the central coast, to move north and bring light showers Monday beginning around noon and last through the afternoon. Tuesday will see similarly sparse rainfall.

“It’ll be some periodic light rain, enough to wet the roads and cause a hassle, but we’re not expecting any significant rain through Tuesday,” meteorologist Ryan Walbrun said.

By Wednesday afternoon, though, a cold front is expected to move through the region and potentially bring several inches of rain and heavy winds. The storm will move from the North Bay on down to the Santa Cruz Mountains, drenching the region over roughly six hours, Walbrun said.

San Francisco and Oakland could see more than two inches of rain, while the higher elevation areas of the North Bay and Santa Cruz Mountains could receive four to six inches, Walbrun said.

Remnants of the storm could last into Thursday, before conditions are expected to dry out Friday and Saturday.

Wednesday’s storm should bring the region’s rainfall totals up to average for this point in the water year.

“Most places are roughly 60 to 90 percent of normal right now,” Walbrun said. “By the time Friday comes around, everyone should be pushing much closer to normal.”

Strong winds will accompany the storm, said Walbrun, who expects gusts up to 50 mph in lower elevation areas and gusts reaching 60 mph or more in the hills.

The system should also bring considerable snow to the Sierra, which could cause messy conditions on the roads. The weather service has not issued any advisories yet, but the snow and high winds could lead to blizzard conditions. Officials recommend against traveling up to Lake Tahoe on Wednesday and Thursday.

“It’s the type of storm that’s going to close the passes,” Walbrun said. “If anybody’s heading out of the Bay Area to the Sierra Wednesday and Thursday, it’s going to be basically impossible to get over the passes.

Ashley McBride is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @ashleynmcb

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