Winter storm set to drench Bay Area Friday

A storm expected to hit the Bay Area late Thursday night could bring up to three inches of rain in some areas along with high winds and surf and possible thunderstorms, the National Weather Service said Thursday.

Rain is expected to start in the north and move south from late Thursday night into Friday, with amounts ranging from half an inch to 1 inch in urban areas and 1 to 3 inches over some coastal mountain ranges.

The highest areas may even see some snow late Friday and into Saturday, forecasters said.

Southerly winds starting Thursday night could reach 20 to 30 mph in many areas with gusts of more than 40 mph possible and up to 50 mph in hill and mountain areas. The strongest winds are expected Friday morning.

Thunderstorms are possible during the day on Friday as the storm system leaves the area, particularly in the afternoon and evening.

Residents should also expect surf of up to 15 feet at some beaches starting Friday and continuing into Saturday.

Following the storm, cold weather is expected to return. Low temperatures on Christmas day will dip into the 30s or even 20s in some areas and daytime highs will barely reach the 50s in many places. Monday morning could get even colder, officials said.