Wet, windy storm on its way

Bay Area residents face an onslaught of wet, windy weather this weekend, but the late-February storm should top off regional water supplies, officials said Thursday.

Rains are expected to continue through today and Saturday morning. By lunchtime Saturday, winds are expected to kick up heavy rains and gusts of up to 60 miles per hour that could continue into Sunday afternoon, said Brian Tentinger, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

“We’re not thinking it’s going to be as strong as the Jan. 4 storm, but it will have strong winds,” he said.

While the early January storm knocked down branches, the coming storm is likely to take out whole trees because the ground is much more saturated, said Jeff Norris, district coordinator with the San Mateo County Office of Emergency Services. Locals should especially keep an eye out for trees with shallow roots, such as redwoods and eucalyptus, he said.

Pacific Gas and Electric’s crews will be on standby throughout the weekend to repair downed electrical lines, PG&E spokesman David Eisenhauer said.

“It’s also important that our customers prepare for the possibility of power outages. Now is the time to fill bottles with water and freeze them so you can keep food cold in your fridge,” Eisenhauer said. “Make sure you have extra batteries and a land-line telephone with a cord.”

Heavy winds could produce waves of 15 to 20 feet high on Saturday and even 25 feet on Sunday. Storm conditions could flood coastal areas, including Pescadero and Half Moon Bay, Norris said.

“Drainout areas on the Bay side [could flood], if the storm coincides with high tide, but it will be nowhere as severe as on Jan. 4 and 5,” he said.

Though the rain may ruin weekend plans, it should bring anywhere from 3 to 7 inches of rain to Sierra reservoirs, ensuring adequate supplies for the rest of 2008, said Bruce McGurk, hydrologist with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

“We had a very poor October and November, but January saved us. We’re at about 40 percent of normal for February, so another 3 to 4 inches would bring us up to normal,” McGurk said.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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