"It'll be a nearly similar situation," said Benjamin, comparing the week's two storms.

The difference will be stronger winds accompanying the second storm.

A wind advisory warning will last from 10 p.m. Thursday to 10 a.m. Friday, with winds expected at 20-30 mph and gusts from 45-50 mph along the coast and in the hills.

By late Friday morning the bulk of the warm Pacific storm should have moved south where it was expected to dump on the Santa Cruz and coastal mountains.

Snow fans heading Friday afternoon or night into the Sierras for the weekend could find driving to be messy and slow.

As much as a foot of snow was expected at the higher elevations, with snowfall starting to build at about 5,000-6,000 feet.

With this last storm of February, rainfall amounts could be closing in on about 40 percent of average — keeping the state firmly entrenched in a drought, said Benjamin.

"We're making steps in the right direction, albeit baby steps. We're at upper 30 percent now, we might get to 40. We've got the ball but we've not made it to the 50 yard line," said Benjamin, switching to a football analogy. "And they've got a strong defense."

Sunday through Tuesday still looked to be dry with a chance of a lesser storm arriving Wednesday.

"Nothing like this. Just enough to keep us from falling backward," said Benjamin.