Update, 4:40 p.m. Monday: Well, the rainy weekend is over and the sun has returned. Next up: a wetter and windier storm that should arrive in the Bay Area Tuesday morning -- and deliver a real deluge to much of Southern California.
The National Weather Service says the storm could bring about an inch and a third of rain to San Jose, 2 inches in San Francisco and 2.5 inches in San Rafael and Santa Rosa by late Wednesday. Forecasters say higher totals will fall in the Santa Cruz Mountains and upland areas of the North Bay. The storm will also feature winds gusting up to 40 mph near the coast and in the region's hills. Isolated thunderstorms are also possible.
Forecasters say the incoming storm will tap into an "atmospheric river," a plume of very moist air, wafting up from the subtropical Pacific. The weather system is expected to hit Southern California dead-on and has prompted the National Weather Service to post a flash flood watch for extensive areas of San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Ventura and Kern counties. Watches have also been posted for burn areas near Yosemite and for the area near September's King Fire west of Lake Tahoe.
The National Weather Service says the storm could deliver as much as half an inch of rain an hour Tuesday to mountainous areas of Southern California. The Santa Lucia Mountains, stretching along the Big Sur coast and south, are also expected to get very heavy rain.
The storm is forecast to dump heavy snow throughout the Sierra Nevada, with 2 feet or more expected above 7,000 feet or so.
Over the weekend, hills and mountains south and north of San Francisco Bay saw the most rain, with the highest reported total Monday morning being 4.22 inches on Mount Hamilton. Several locations in the Santa Cruz Mountains and in the hills of the Russian River drainage in Sonoma County got more than 3 inches. Here's the NWS regional rainfall report with three-day storm totals for dozens of locations through Monday morning:
Public Information Statement: 3-Day Rainfall Reports
Original post (Friday, Nov. 28): Admit it: You spend a fair amount of time paying lip service to the drought, or even putting some effort into conserving water. Then when a storm finally interrupts some really nice weather, you're all, "Man, I wish it wasn't raining."
Well, prepare to have whatever your outdoor plans were for this weekend interrupted. Because the most significant rainstorm in the Bay Area this season is now approaching Northern California.
The National Weather Service says rain will hit Sonoma and Napa counties later today and spread to the rest of the region Saturday. The storm will be moderate to heavy, and is the first in a series of "rain events," as the NWS puts it, over the next five-six days.
Motorists are cautioned to slow down, as driving could be difficult this weekend and through the middle of next week.
Diana Henderson, NWS forecaster for the San Francisco Bay Area/Monterey, said the precipitation will occur on and off through most of next week, and that we should see a decent downpour.
"It's definitely the strongest one we've had so far," she said. "And, we'll have the heavier precipitation."
Henderson said the NWS expects gusty winds sometime around Wednesday. Those high winds and the most rain are expected mainly in high-elevation spots like Mount Tamalpais and Mount Diablo, as well as the Santa Cruz Mountains.
The upcoming storm will have slightly more impact on the drought than the smaller ones that hit the region in recent weeks, Henderson said.