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Heavy rain, gusty winds and thunder expected

The Weather Prediction Center's best precipitation forecast for northern and central California through Saturday.  The highest totals are expected in the Santa Cruz Mountains and other coastal mountains, with up to 3 inches of rain.

The Weather Prediction Center’s best precipitation forecast for northern and central California through Saturday. The highest totals are expected in the Santa Cruz Mountains and other coastal mountains, with up to 3 inches of rain.

Baron/Lynx

A deep low pressure system will push a strong cold front across northern and central California on Friday, bringing heavy rain, flurries, thunderstorms and mountain snow.

The cold front is expected to hit coastal Eureka around 10 a.m., the Bay Area around 3 p.m. and move east toward Sacramento around 6 p.m. Heavy showers and erratic gusts could impact the Friday night travel rush as the bank holiday weekend approaches.

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Simulated radar Friday afternoon shows heavy rain across the Bay Area as a cold front moves east toward Sacramento for the evening drive.

Simulated radar Friday afternoon shows heavy rain across the Bay Area as a cold front moves east toward Sacramento for the evening drive.

Baron/Lynx

The Bay Area and Sacramento Valley are expected to receive 1 to 2 inches of rain, with slightly less in the San Joaquin and Santa Clara valleys. The Weather Prediction Center predicts a marginal risk of excessive precipitation and flash flooding in the North Bay, North Shore and Interstate 5 between Redding and Mount Shasta. Up to 3 inches of rain is possible in these areas.

Gusts will be more widespread than Wednesday’s storm. As the cold front passes, sustained winds are expected to gust 20 to 30 mph inland, with gusts possibly exceeding 40 mph. The coast and higher elevations should prepare for gusts up to 60 mph. Localized power outages and downed tree branches are possible. A wind advisory is in effect for the coastline, San Francisco Bay coastline, and Santa Clara Valley from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday.

Widespread rain is expected to change to scattered showers after the passage of the cold front, which will persist until midday Saturday. Some of these showers could be heavy, including a risk of lightning and small hail. The best lightning chances will be near coastal waters, Solano County and the Sacramento Valley.

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Behind the cold front, another large swell is expected to hit the Pacific Coast on Saturday, with breaking waves reaching 25 feet. However, the impacts of coastal flooding are not expected to be as severe as Thursday.

Calmer weather returns overnight Saturday into Monday, with only light showers in central and southern California on New Year’s Eve. Maximum temperatures will slowly trend downward until the final days of 2023, the temperatures of 60 degrees becoming the exception rather than the rule by Sunday and Monday. New Year’s Eve will be chilly. The 30s to 45s are expected to be widespread when the clock strikes midnight.

Sierra Snow

The Sierra Nevada is poised to receive a fresh dusting of snow Friday evening, a welcome sign for ski resorts suffering from a slow start to the winter season.

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A winter weather advisory is in effect for the entire Sierra Nevada beginning at 10 p.m. Friday. Snow levels are expected to be around 6,000 feet at Lake Tahoe, with up to a foot of snow at Donner Summit and up to 2 feet at the highest peaks. In the Southern Sierra, snow levels will be around 7,000 feet, with 2 to 8 inches of snow around Mammoth Lakes.

Winter weather advisories are in effect across much of the Sierra Nevada Friday evening through Saturday.  Up to a foot of snow is possible at 6,000 feet, with up to 2 feet at the highest peaks.

Winter weather advisories are in effect across much of the Sierra Nevada Friday evening through Saturday. Up to a foot of snow is possible at 6,000 feet, with up to 2 feet at the highest peaks.

Baron/Lynx

Travelers should prepare for the worst conditions Friday night through Saturday morning, with wind gusts up to 40 mph and heavy bands of snow at times. Chain control is possible, so be sure to check with local authorities before hitting the road. Snowfall will slowly decrease Saturday afternoon, with drier conditions Sunday.

So far this season, snowfall has been limited in the Sierra Nevada, with below-normal temperatures in almost every location. UC Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Lab near Donner Summit has recorded less than 3 feet of snow since Oct. 1, well below the normal of 7.5 feet.

Impacts on Southern California

Although Friday’s cold front is not expected to be as strong in Southern California, torrential rain is still expected across much of the region.

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The cold front will arrive later for Southern California, hitting Santa Barbara late Friday night, Los Angeles around 5 a.m. Saturday and San Diego around 7 a.m. The front will lose energy as it bypasses Point Conception, so gusts and thunderstorms will not occur. a big concern for the southern part of the state.

Rain showers will continue Saturday then ease in the evening.

San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties are in line for three-quarters of an inch to 1.5 inches of rain, with up to 2 inches in the highest elevations. Los Angeles will likely see closer to a half-inch, while San Diego will be in line with about a quarter-inch.

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