Heavy rain expected to drench Bay Area

OAKLAND (KTVU) -- The National Weather Service and KTVU meteorologists say moderate rainfall and strong winds are expected to arrive today in the Bay Area, with several inches of rain expected to fall in most parts of the region tonight into early Friday.

"We can expect a lot of gray skies because rain is starting to move in," KTVU meteorologist Steve Paulson said at noon. "The main system is tonight and overnight into early tomorrow."

Paulson said the rainfall could be between .75 and 4 inches with the heaviest rain expected to arrive between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. The weather service said higher elevations could see 3 to 4 inches, and some peaks could see as much as 5 inches of rain.

"This is an incredibly strong system for this time of year," Paulson said, adding that the storm should move quickly through the region but it will still bring the threat of flooding.

Paulson said wind gusts could top 50 miles per hour, which could bring downed trees and power lines. Weather conditions could snarl this evening's commute, and possibly again Friday morning, according to the weather service.

The storm will also bring heavy seas this weekend, with 17-foot waves and 45 mph winds expected, prompting the U.S. Coast Guard to urge mariners to boat with caution or avoid the water altogether.

The weather is expected to get hazardous today and stay that way into next week. A small-craft advisory has been issued, meaning that winds from 23 to 37 mph are expected to produce hazardous conditions, especially for smaller vessels.

Boaters are advised to check weather and current information before heading out and stay informed using television, radio and Internet.

They're also asked by the Coast Guard to file a float plan with family or friends to assist rescue crews in case of emergency, as well as to wear a life jacket and bring marine flares, bilge pumps and a working marine-band radio.

Bay City News contributed to this report.