Rain, snow to be followed by strong, drying winds

Long-awaited rain began falling in Sacramento late Tuesday afternoon, with 0.01 inches recorded at Sacramento Executive Airport and 0.03 inches at Sacramento International Airport by early evening, according to the National Weather Service.

More rain was expected overnight and throughout Wednesday. Holly Osborne, a weather service meteorologist, said the Sacramento region could receive a half- to three-quarters of an inch before the storm moves out Thursday morning.

The snow level in the Sierra dropped to 6,000 feet Tuesday evening. Osborne said ski areas could receive as much as a foot of snow by Thursday evening.

But the rain and snow will do little to alleviate dry conditions, as strong northerly winds are expected to sweep into the Valley and mountains Thursday. Osborne noted that the Weather Service has issued a high wind watch for the mountains, where gusts of 60 mph to 80 mph are forecast.

Winds of 20 mph to 30 mph are expected on the west side of the Sacramento Valley, with gusts up to 45 mph, and 10 mph to 20 mph on the east side.

High temperatures around 62 degrees are forecast for Wednesday in the Sacramento area, with a relatively warm overnight low around 55 degrees.

In the Sierra, a high of 42 degrees is expected Wednesday in the Blue Canyon area, with a low around 36 degrees Wednesday night.