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Sonoma County residents should brace for heavy rainfall this weekend

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As the season’s first rainstorm ended Wednesday, weather and fire officials advised Sonoma County residents to prepare for heavier rain this weekend.

Rainfall is expected to start midday Saturday, continuing through the weekend into Tuesday, said Carolina Walbrum, a National Weather Service meteorologist. The storm could bring a ½-inch to ¾ of an inch of rain in lower North Bay elevations. In the hills, Walbrum predicted up to 2 inches.

Because the storm is expected to be an atmospheric river — a heavy winter storm that comes inland from the Pacific Ocean — Walbrum said it was more difficult to predict which North Bay areas will be most affected.

Temperatures will stay cool this weekend, with highs in the 50s on Saturday before warming into the upper 50s to low 60s Sunday into Monday, Walbrum said.

The Sonoma County Airport recorded a little more than an inch of rain Tuesday into Wednesday morning. The heaviest rainfall at the airport came during rush hour Tuesday evening, National Weather Service meteorologist Drew Peterson said. The county experienced scattered showers Tuesday and Wednesday, but that rain tapered off as expected before Thanksgiving Day, Peterson said.

By 5 p.m. Wednesday, nearly all of the 6,000 PG&E customers in the county who had lost power Tuesday had it restored, PG&E spokeswoman Angela Lombardi said. PG&E has extra crews on alert for the weekend in case there are more storm-related outages, she said.

The National Weather Service likely will issue flash flood watches or warnings in the next day or so, given the detrimental effects the rainfall could have on areas burned by the recent Kincade fire, Walbrum said Wednesday.

If the storm ends up being an atmospheric river, Cal Fire Battalion Chief Marshall Tuberville worried trees weakened by the Kincade blaze could fall into roads, hindering first responders’ ability to respond to an emergency and it could cause landslides in areas where grass had burned.

“It’s all about the timing and intensity of the rainfall,” Tuberville said. “I’m optimistic nothing bad is going to happen, but I’m definitely monitoring the situation.”

Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Chantelle Lee at 707-521-5337 or chantelle.lee@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ChantelleHLee.

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