Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle
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Bay Area residents can expect the first rainfall of the New Year to drench the region over the weekend and into next week, bringing torrents of rain along with wind gusts and slightly warmer temperatures, forecasters said.
As a cold front grinds its way through the region, the first downpours will appear early Saturday along the North Bay coastline.
“The rainfall will be the heaviest just before sunrise, and through sunrise Saturday morning,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Roger Gass. The deluge will continue throughout the day and lighten up Saturday night, but then the skies will open up again on Sunday and Monday, Gass said.
Residents shouldn’t put away their umbrellas until late next week, as forecasters predict a second storm system and cold front to move into the area Tuesday and Wednesday and fling more wet weather across the landscape.
Winds will pick up late Friday night, blowing 20 to 30 mph from the south, with winds gusts of up to 45 mph, Gass said. Higher elevations across the region could see gusts as high as 60 miles per hour, triggering NWS to issue a wind advisory from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
One bright spot on the horizon: The increased moisture and winds will bump nighttime temperatures up a few degrees higher than the freezing temperatures shrouding much of the bay over the past week, Gass added.
The heaviest rainfall will be in the coastal mountains in the North Bay, where forecasters expect up to 3 inches of rain by Sunday’s end. More urbanized areas like San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland could see between half an inch to an inch, Gass said.
Rain will return to the area this weekend as the first in a series of storms arrives. Additional systems will bring more rain and possibly gusty winds into the middle of next week. #CAwx pic.twitter.com/l8BW2dGt8p
— NWS Bay Area (@NWSBayArea) January 4, 2019
“For much of the Bay Area, we’re hovering around 60 to 65 percent of average rainfall so far,” Gass said, similar to the snowfall measured in the state’s first snow survey reported on Thursday.
Ski revelers will delight in the weekend weather report for the Lake Tahoe region, but officials advised motorists to travel early if they can, and to take caution. The worst of the winter weather conditions will hit Saturday afternoon and evening, National Weather Service forecaster Scott McGuire said.
“People need to prepare for long delays and carry an emergency kit if they’re traveling up in the mountains this weekend and next week,” he added.
California Department of Transportation officials also warned drivers going to the slopes to keep a full tank, drive slowly and carry tire chains.
High winds will contribute to lower visibility on the roads, and could potentially also snarl air travel and cause power interruptions, McGuire said.
The weather service issued a winter weather advisory for the Lake Tahoe region from 10 a.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday.
Forecasters predict 6 to 12 inches of snow in the Lake Tahoe basin and up to 20 inches along the Sierra crest and mountain passes.
Further north, emergency crews and officials in Butte County — still recovering from the deadly and destructive Camp Fire — are prepared for possible mudslides that can result from heavy rains in recently fire-ravaged areas.
“We’re always on high alert whenever there’s a storm coming in, and we’ll be prepared with our swift water rescue team,” said Rick Carhart, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “I don’t think that we’re expecting there to be any major implications, but there has been talk about the fact that burn areas could be affected.”
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Weekend-storms-to-drench-Bay-Area-dump-snow-on-13509119.php.