Outside a Walnut Creek coffee shop, a 4-year-old girl holding an umbrella jumped as high as she could and landed with both her shoes in a small puddle, spraying a few drops on her mother.

Impressed with the result, she did it again.

"Maybe," a spectator said, "she's making up for lost time."

Nature's attempt to do the same for a parched Bay Area and state resulted in a small amount of rain Wednesday morning, an appetizer for the rain expected later Wednesday night. The main course is expected to arrive Friday, with National Weather Service forecasters saying it will leave at least a couple of inches before departing.

Walkers do not let rain disrupt their stroll along South Shore Avenue in Alameda on Feb. 26, 2014.
Walkers do not let rain disrupt their stroll along South Shore Avenue in Alameda on Feb. 26, 2014. (Laura A. Oda/Staff)

"We're still on track to get a decent dumping everywhere," forecaster Matt Mehle said. "We expect some heavy activity by Wednesday night, and with Friday, we'll be seeing a considerably stronger system."

Weather-related power outages hit Oakland Wednesday night with about 950 customers in the dark, a PG&E spokeswoman said. Crews were working to restore power in two different areas of the city at 10 p.m. but it wasn't known when the lights would be back on.

The heaviest rain early Wednesday was in Pleasanton, with some areas in the north part of the city recording 2.02 inches by 12:15 p.m. But the morning rain was mostly light elsewhere, with the .30 inches falling at Concord's Buchanan Field Airport leading Contra Costa County's rainfall total, and the .28 inches that fell in Lexington Hills doing the same in Santa Clara County.


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A total of .33 inches fell in San Francisco, .41 in San Jose and .19 fell in Oakland, according to the forecast service.

The weather was expected to create considerably more havoc Wednesday night, and especially on Friday, when a second, heavier storm was expected to arrive. The second storm Wednesday was expected to bring lightning and thunder, and forecaster Austin Cross said lightning activity could be seen by forecasters tracking the storm off the Pacific Coast.

Cross said flooding most likely will affect communities in the Peninsula, and East Palo Alto placed city workers on "storm ready" in anticipation of heavy rainfall. The city is working to avoid flooding along San Francisquito Creek and on Wednesday opened a sandbag station at 2277 University Avenue. City workers are on-call around the clock to deal with problems arising from the series of storms, according to a press release.

Lightning is expected to be heaviest in the Santa Cruz Mountains, as well as in parts of Sonoma County, but Cross said it will be visible in most Bay Area communities at some point during the storms.

As much as 2 feet of snow also was expected above 7,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada, Cross said.

Wednesday's initial storm also forced 100 flights into and out of San Francisco International Airport to be cancelled by noon, airport duty manager Larry Mares said. Those that weren't cancelled were delayed between 90 minutes and two hours on average, he said.

"It's kind of par for the course when we get weather here," Mares said. "The number probably will go up as the other storms get here."

The airport also instituted a ground delay program that Mares said is typical when storm clouds hang low. The program limits the number of flights that can take off and land at the same time. That program, which took effect at 9 a.m., is expected to last through midnight, Mares said.

Travelers were advised to check with their airlines on their flight status before coming to the airport.

The storms mark the second heavy rain activity in the Bay Area in three weeks, an encouraging sign for the drought-stricken state. From July 1 through Feb. 21, San Francisco has had only 5.85 inches of rain, 35 percent of normal for this time of year. San Jose, with 2.67 inches is at 26 percent of normal, and Oakland (4.58 inches) is at 31 percent.

Staff writers Erin Ivie and Mark Gomez contributed to this story.