Call it a dress rehearsal.
The first in a series of storms expected to sweep across the Bay Area made its way through the region Wednesday morning, whipping up some fierce winds and delivering a fair amount of rain, but serving mostly as an opening act for stronger systems to come later in the week.
The weather service is predicting periods of heavy rain through the weekend that could deliver as much as 10 to 12 inches of rain to the North Bay and higher elevations, according to forecaster Logan Johnson of the National Weather Service. Following Wednesday's system, which was mostly clear of the region by 11:30 a.m., a second and third round of showers are expected Thursday and Saturday.
"It will definitely be a very beneficial rainfall," Johnson said. "We just always hope it doesn't come too much too quickly."
Rainfall totals were around a quarter-inch and lower over the last 24 hours for most of the urban East Bay, according to the weather service. Coastal areas in the South Bay may have seen as much as two inches.
For much of the Bay Area, strong winds were the hallmark of Wednesday's storm. Gusts peaked at almost 80 mph on Poverty Ridge in Santa Clara County, and neared 70 mph on Mt. Diablo in Contra Costa County.
Closer to populated areas, winds reached about 30 mph in Richmond, Pittsburg and Oakland.
"It was pretty close to what was anticipated," said weather service forecaster Diana Henderson. "It went through
It was pouring rain midday in downtown Pleasanton, but at Meadowlark Dairy on West Neal Street, it was business as usual. The drive-through dairy had its usual back-up of cars in line to make purchases, and the staff scurrying from car window to car window with milk, bread and staples.
It was plenty wet for the soggy workers, but business was brisk.
"It's not affecting us too bad," supervisor Katie Thomas said. "People are buying milk and eggs here because they don't want to get out of their cars to go into the supermarket."
At the site of the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, workers got the day off -- but not before a flurry of activity to secure construction equipment ahead of the blustery storm.
"We have battened down the hatches out here on the project," said Caltrans spokesman Bart Ney.
In Richmond, the downpour yielded to a soft breeze and gray skies by noon. But the rain was heavy enough to fill reservoirs in the craggy streets and drive away the heavy foot-traffic that normally lines 23rd Street and downtown business corridors.
At Caspers Hot Dogs, a local favorite across the street from City Hall, the lunch
"Something about a good rainy day," said Austin Jackson, 54, just before ordering a combo meal. "I knew before breakfast that I wanted to come down (to Caspers) for lunch."
People out for a stroll during a break in the downpour in downtown San Mateo welcomed the rain after last winter's dryness. Kate Parina, 63, of San Mateo, smiled at the falling drops as she headed to work, saying it's good for plants and will mean snow for skiers.
"I just don't like getting to work wet," she said, heading to her job at a bookstore in Burlingame. "I don't mind so much being wet on the way home."
In general residents seemed to be taking the water in stride. A shopkeeper warned a customer, "Don't float away," as she walked to her car, drawing a chuckle from her.
Travelers at one Bay Area airport were probably not feeling as forgiving about the weather.
Major delays of almost four hours were reported for arriving flights at San Francisco International Airport as winds surged in coastal areas, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The late arrivals were also causing delays in departures; travelers were advised to call their airline before heading to the airport.
No major delays were reported at San Jose or Oakland airports.
PG&E crews were in place throughout the Bay Area to repair fallen power lines.
The largest outage was in Pacifica, where more than 1,000 customers were without power; service was restored to most customers by around 11 a.m.
Smaller outages of fewer than 500 customers were reported in Saratoga, Union City, Woodside, San Lorenzo, Bay Point, Half Moon Bay and San Francisco. Most were restored within several hours.
Roadway flooding was reported in San Mateo and Marin counties, but no fatal accidents were reported, according to the California Highway Patrol. Downed power lines blocked lanes on Highway 9 and Highway 236 in Santa Cruz County, but no other major road closures were reported.
While the storms will pack a lot of rain, they aren't expected to trigger the conditions needed for the Mavericks big wave surf contest off the San Mateo County Coast, organizers said.
With the first system moving out of the Bay Area, scattered showers may still appear through Wednesday night. The next storm, arriving Thursday morning, will pack more of a punch, according to Johnson.
"That one will be stronger and feature more rainfall," Johnson said.
The third and most potent system is expected to hit the Bay Area on Saturday. San Jose could potentially receive several inches of rain, Johnson said.
Staff writers Joshua Melvin, Jeremy Thomas and Robert Rogers contributed to this report. Contact Mark Gomez at 408-920-5869. Follow him on Twitter.com/MarkMgomez.