Bay Area battens down for looming storm

Commuters can expect wet upcoming commutes as rain and gusty winds move into the Bay Area Wednesday evening, with the heaviest rain expected Thursday morning, National Weather Service officials said.

Light rain will begin falling in the North Bay this evening and may become heavy with amounts of one to two inches possible, especially in higher elevations, according to the weather service.

Winds of 20 to 30 mph, with possible gusts of 45 to 50 mph at higher elevations, are also expected in the Bay Area Wednesday night through Thursday morning and could cause drought-stressed trees to fall, according to the weather service.

A wind advisory is in effect from 10 p.m. to 10 a.m. Thursday for the North Bay mountains, weather service officials said.

The rainstorm will move south to the Monterey Bay area by later Thursday, according to the weather service.

San Francisco Department of Public Works spokeswoman Rachel Gordon said crews have been out pruning trees in advance of the storm. Crews are also clearing storm drains and city officials have made sandbags available to residents who show proof of residency, Gordon said.

Ten free sand bags are available to each household until 2 p.m. Wednesday and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. each week Monday through Saturday at 2323 Cesar Chavez St., Gordon said. She said residents should enter at the Marin and Kansas streets gate.

Residents whose property has flooded in the past should pick up sandbags, Gordon said. The bags weigh 45 pounds each, she said.

Weather service officials said a slight chance of thunderstorms exists Thursday afternoon and Thursday night as the air mass becomes unstable.

High surf conditions are also expected, with breaking waves exceeding 20 to 30 feet at the coast, according to weather service officials.