Mother Nature aiming her fury at North Bay

SANTA ROSA (KTVU) – A winter storm front packing heavy rain and high winds moved slowly southward along the Northern California coast Thursday as North Bay residents prepared for as much as 10 inches or more of rain in some locations over the next four days.

KTVU Meteorologist Steve Paulson said the storm's fury would be unleashed on areas from Santa Rosa northward. Some parts of Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties could get well over a foot of rain by the time a pair of winter storms cleared out on Monday.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch beginning Thursday night for areas north of the Golden Gate Bridge with 3 inches of rain possible in Sausalito and as much as 10 inches forecasted for Santa Rosa by Monday morning.

The first storm front was moving slowly southward. Rain was predicted to start in the North Bay overnight Thursday into Friday, but will not reach San Jose until Friday evening.

Friday's morning commute may be wet on Highway 101 in Marin and Sonoma counties, but still dry in the East Bay.

The California Highway Patrol warned drivers to be cautious while commuting during the storms. Meanwhile, transportation officials were preparing for flooding in low areas including Highway 101 near Sir Francis Drake.

The weather service has also issued a wind advisory for the San Francisco Bay Area that will go into effect from 4 a.m. Friday and stay in place until 4 a.m. Saturday.

High winds could impact areas including Point Reyes National Seashore, North Bay interior valleys and mountains, the San Francisco Bay shoreline, the Peninsula, interior areas of the East Bay, East Bay hills, the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Santa Clara Valley, officials said.

Winds will begin gusting late Thursday and the area could see sustained winds of 20 to 35 mph and wind gusts of up to 50 mph and 60 mph in higher elevations.

San Francisco will get its first significant rain of the year with 1 1/2-to-3 inches a possibility over the weekend. The last measurable rainfall in San Francisco was on Dec. 24th.

However, Friday's storm will provide little relief for the Sierra ski resorts. Forecasters said the incoming storm would be accompanied by warm temperatures and that the snow levels were predicted to range from 8,000 feet and higher.

A storm predicted to arrive on Sunday will be accompanied by colder air and snow level would drop to 6,500 feet.

Transportation officials wanted travelers to the Sierra to be prepared for chain requirements on the high passes of Highway 80 and 50.