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San Francisco braces for return of fierce wind and rain

Lull in San Francisco storm won't last long

A day after fierce winds and heavy downpours battered the San Francisco Bay Area, the rough weather abated Saturday in what forecasters described as just a lull in a major storm that's set to regain strength Sunday.

In the storm’s first wave, a staggering 10 inches of rain fell in mountains along the coast in Sonoma County, said Austin Cross, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Monterey. San Francisco was spared the most severe weather, with just three-quarters of an inch of rain recorded.

“There were quite a few downed trees and a number of power outages, mostly due to the wind,” Cross said.

Gusts hit 70 miles per hour on Mount Diablo in the East Bay on Friday and 50 mph in San Francisco. Pacific Gas & Electric reported scores of power outages scattered from the Pacific Ocean to the Sierra Nevada, but none were major.

The largest outages affected thousands of people in Tiburon, near Sausalito, and Pittsburg, an East Bay suburb, according to Cross.

By Saturday morning, wind and rain in the Bay Area were light.

“We’re getting a little bit of a break,” Cross said.

Flight delays, which were as long as 3 1/2 hours Friday at San Francisco International Airport, were cut to an average of 45 minutes Saturday morning, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. A low cloud ceiling was still hampering arrivals.

The storm is riding an atmospheric river, known as the Pineapple Express, a band of warm, wet ocean air that's blowing across Northern California.

The weather service reported no major flooding.

Conditions could be as bad Sunday as they were Friday, with wind gusts up to 50 mph in San Francisco and Oakland, and stronger in the mountains, Cross said.

Twitter: @finneganLAT

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