Tuesday storm to bring high winds across Sonoma County, potential snow at higher elevations

The storm is set to last through Wednesday morning, forecasters say.|

Just as the North Bay experienced a bit of reprieve with a sunny first day of spring Monday, an incoming storm will bring more rain and high winds Tuesday into Wednesday.

The edges of an atmospheric river headed to Southern California will drop light rain Monday night across the North Bay, then intensify through Tuesday, with gusty winds and a chance for higher elevation snow in Sonoma and Mendocino counties, the National Weather Service said Monday.

The storm, which is set to last through Wednesday morning, will not bring as much rain to the North Bay as recent large systems, weather service meteorologist Miles Bliss said. Though, wind gusts could reach up to 40 mph in some areas — enough to bring down trees and power lines considering the already saturated ground.

“Most of the rain will come early Tuesday morning and persist through at least the afternoon, if not into the early evening,” said Bliss, with the weather service’s Monterey office.

Sonoma County valleys, such as Santa Rosa and Petaluma, are set to receive about 0.3 to 1 inch of rainfall while higher elevations could see about 1 1/2 inches, according to figures published by the weather service. Areas along the Sonoma Coast will get up to about 3/4 of an inch.

Some snow could also fall along Sonoma County’s northeastern corner, Bliss said.

Dial Hoang, another meteorologist with the Monterey office, said snow is more likely to fall at elevations of 3,500 to 4,000 feet, with the highest chance for snow accumulation being around Mount Saint Helena, which has flanks in Sonoma, Napa and Lake counties.

Most of these points that reach these levels will receive about 1/2 of an inch of wet snow, or sleet, Bliss said.

Higher elevations in Mendocino County could also see about 2 to 4 inches of snow, though it’s not expected to approach any populous areas or major roads there, said Doug Boushey, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Eureka office.

Mendocino County is also expected to receive about 0.3 to 0.4 of an inch of rain.

The weather service is not anticipating any flooding aside from some areas of ponding on roadways, Boushey said.

While the heaviest parts of the storm are set to hit the Central Coast and Southern California, the core of the low pressure system is set to move through the Bay Area, meaning higher sustained wind speeds and gusts, Bliss said.

At higher elevations, such as in eastern Sonoma County and the coastal mountains, wind speeds Tuesday could reach up to 25 mph with gusts up to 40 mph. Sonoma County valleys could also experience gusts up to 25 mph.

“Weakened tree limbs or a whole tree, in an isolated manner, could come down with the saturated soils,” Bliss said, referring to the effects of the 40 mph gusts.

As the rain continues Tuesday, areas of low pressure will move over the region, dropping low temperatures into the 30s in Sonoma County. Some valley locations could see 38 degrees Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

Moving into the weekend, temperatures could drop to frost-conducive levels, which is below about 37 degrees, Bliss said.

You can reach Staff Writer Madison Smalstig at madison.smalstig@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @madi.smals.

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