SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – An atmospheric, intensifying river in the Pacific moved closer and closer to the northern California coast on Thursday, bringing with it the promise of much-needed rain showers starting on Sunday and continuing next week.
This is good news for a region still plagued by severe drought conditions and coming in the wake of an extremely dry November.
READ MORE: Weapon found at Santa Clara high school, 2 students arrested
There were light showers in the Bay Area early Thursday, but they were just table dressing for the main weather event that begins on Sunday.
“This system continues to look more organized with better dynamics and better humidity,” National Weather Service forecasters said. “The latest Atmospheric River guidelines continue to increase ante potential. “
Forecasters predicted Sunday to Wednesday total precipitation of 1 ″ -3 ″ in many urban areas in the region with 3 ″ -6 ″ in coastal beaches.
“The rain could impact parts of the Bay Area on Saturday evening and will continue until Wednesday morning,” NWS forecasters said. “In fact, there are now signs that the atmospheric river may stall on Monday along the central coast.”
READ MORE: Victims suffer from smoke inhalation from garage fire in Bernal Heights, San Francisco
In the Sierra, Thursday’s storm was more powerful. A winter weather advisory was in effect for the Tahoe area until 4:00 p.m.
“Total snowfall amounts of 2 to 7 inches, except 6 to 12 inches above 7,000 feet,” predicted National Weather Service forecasters. “Winds gusting 25 to 40 mph in the basin with up to 60 mph along the Sierra ridges. “
Chain controls are in effect for mountain passes.
The snow was a welcome relief for the Sierra ski resorts who were forced to use limited access to their slopes after a dry November. But Thursday’s storm only sets the table for what’s in store starting Sunday.
“A major winter storm Sierra remains at the center of the extended forecast,” Reno meteorologists predicted. “Confidence increases seeing a 2-3 day period where several waves of heavy snowfall are expected across the Sierra.”
NO MORE NEWS: Person emerging from the water near China Beach in San Francisco
“The details of the schedule will still need to be refined, but the current window for storm impacts could be as early as Sunday and last until Wednesday morning. The snowfall peaks appear to be targeting the Monday through Tuesday period.”