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Get ready to put away the heavy woolies and get out the slickers. Starting this evening Mother Nature should launch a series of fronts across the North Coast bringing a relic of the past: rain.

Finally, that stubborn, month-long, high-pressure system is getting the boot, ending four weeks of sunny, cool, dry days.

The frigid early morning temperatures — Tuesday's 25 degrees in Santa Rosa was the lowest this season — should give way to the milder pattern associated with the rain.

"One system after another," predicted National Weather Service Meteorologist Austin Cross. "Another in on Friday and one over the weekend."

The Wednesday night-into-Thursday storm could bring up to an inch of rain in the valleys and three inches in the upper hill areas of the North Bay, he said.

Though the Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino reservoirs still are at about 80 percent full with the traditional wet season still ahead, the rain would be welcome, officials said.

"We're hoping that what's being predicted .<TH>.<TH>. is going to come to fruition," said Pam Jeane, assistant general manager of the Sonoma County Water Agency, which delivers water to 600,000 Sonoma and Marin County residents.

Forecasts for Santa Rosa say rain is highly likely for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and possibly Monday. The first storm is could reach the North Bay between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. tonight. "It'll be moving south and get to the whole Bay Area by the next morning," Cross said.

Another change will be somewhat warmer mornings as the week progresses.

Today's early morning temperatures, predicted to be in the 20s and low 30s, will rise to the mid-40s by the end of the week, according to forecasts.

Tuesday morning was anything but mild. It rated a freeze warning from the National Weather Service as temperatures dipped into frigid territories, including some teens and many in the low 20s around the North Bay.

The low at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport was 21 degrees. The official weather station in downtown Santa Rosa showed <NO1><NO>25 degrees<NO1><NO>, shivering distance from<NO1><NO> the 1947 record of 22 degrees.

"Whoo wee," said a businessman in a suit who was practically jogging along Mendocino Avenue toward work at 7:30 a.m. "Gets you moving."

Nearby, Santa Rosa resident Nancy Rada was waiting for a bus, a mug of coffee in one hand and the leash for her dog, Chewbacca, in the other.

"I grew up in the Midwest. It's been awhile since I've had weather like this," Rada said.

Electrical workers Dennis Fudge and Charles Coale were waiting good-naturedly in the chilly air to be let into a closed business to start a job.

"It was 26 at my house," said Fudge, who lives in west Santa Rosa. "Bitter cold," said Coale.

Fudge said he's ready for change on two fronts. "It's going to warm up. We need the rain."

The temperatures also caused pipes to freeze and burst. Some fire departments were called to help with the broken plumbing.

An outdoor pipe behind Oliver's Market in Cotati gave way, prompting a call to Ranch Adobe forfeiters, said assistant store director Lawrence Jacobs.

"It started off as a slow leak. Then it kind of blew," said Jacobs. "It was Lake Oliver's."