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Heavy winds, lightning sweep through Northern California

The Pineapple Express brings a downpour with heavy winds to the San Francisco Bay Area

A blustery winter storm brought thunder, heavy winds and nearly an inch of rain to the San Francisco Bay Area early Sunday.

Thunder was reported in the East Bay suburb of Walnut Creek, while the National Weather Service reported lightning strikes in Santa Cruz.

Wind gusts of up to 53 mph were reported at Mount Diablo in the East Bay while 54 mph was recorded in the South Bay suburb of Los Gatos.

The National Weather Service office warned of afternoon and evening thunderstorms, and alerted that snow may cause problems traveling through the Sierra mountain passes.

In the last six hours, more than four-fifths of an inch fell at San Francisco International Airport, and more than three-fifths of an inch was recorded in Oakland, according to the weather service.

The National Weather Service office in Hanford said the best chance of thunderstorms for the San Joaquin Valley were between noon and midnight, and could produce small hail and heavy rain in addition to lightning and gusty winds. 

Sunday’s storm was the second phase of a so-called atmospheric river of rain and powerful wind that first arrived on Friday, knocking down power lines and, around Lake Tahoe, snapping dozens of trees. The atmospheric river is also known as the Pineapple Express, which is a band of warm, wet Pacific air.

Los Angeles was forecast to remain partly cloudy Sunday, with a 20% chance of showers after midnight.

Follow me on Twitter for more breaking news: @ronlin

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