Much-talked-about midweek storm approaching San Francisco more slowly than expected
Who says Mother Nature has to be on time?
A much-talked-about storm headed for the San Francisco Bay Area was originally on track to arrive Wednesday evening, but the latest forecast shows the system making landfall Thursday morning, just in time for the commute.
This storm is expected to be the strongest the region has seen so far this year, delivering a nasty mix of whipping winds, bone-chilling temperatures, bouts of heavy rain, and low-elevation snowfall.
Southerly winds will crank up before the storm makes landfall on Wednesday evening and continue into Thursday. "With the strongest winds, we’re looking at 35 mph, maybe isolated gusts up to 50 mph," said Matt Mehle, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Monterey. "Winds will be highest over the coastal waters, along the coastline and in the mountains."
Rainfall will begin over the North Bay late Wednesday and gradually spread southward into the central Bay Area early Thursday as the cold front makes landfall. The heaviest rain is expected at the front of the storm. In San Francisco, the morning commute will likely be impacted.
NWS forecaster Scott Rowe said there's some concern about low-level flooding on roads, but major flooding isn't expected.
"Overall the system isn’t going to hang around for a long amount of time," he said. "I know a lot of folks remember what happened in the North Bay last year with that strong atmospheric river, but this isn’t going to be one of those events."
Rainfall totals from late Wednesday through Friday morning are forecast to range from one to three inches in the North Bay and coastal mountains, to 0.25 inch to 0.75 inch in most other areas, including Oakland and San Francisco.
The system will be be delivering a blast of cold air from Alaska and snow levels are forecast to drop to 3,000 to 3,500 feet with one to two inches of fresh powder likely on Mount St. Helena in the North Bay, Mount Diablo in the East Bay and Mount Hamilton in the South Bay.
Showers are expected to linger into early Friday morning with conditions drying into the afternoon. "San Francisco should stay mostly dry over the weekend," said Mehle. "We have a few systems that might bring a chance of showers over the North Bay over the weekend, but generally we are trending drier after this cold front."
Amy Graff is a digital editor with SFGATE. Email her: email@example.com.