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Wet and windy day ahead in Sacramento

Sandbags are filled at a Sacramento County site in North Highlands as residents prepare for the upcoming storm Wednesday.
Sandbags are filled at a Sacramento County site in North Highlands as residents prepare for the upcoming storm Wednesday. rpench@sacbee.com

Government agencies are warning Californians to hunker down and stay off the roads if possible Thursday as the biggest storm in six years sweeps across the state.

Winds gusting over 60 mph are expected to scour California on Thursday morning ahead of a deluge of rain, knocking down trees and causing power outages. The worst of the rain is expected from about 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday in the Sacramento metro area, with the potential to produce flooding on local streams and in urban areas.

If the storm plays out as expected, the National Weather Service says the Sacramento region will see 3 to 4 inches of rainfall over the entire duration of the storm, from Wednesday night into Friday morning. That could be enough to put this storm into the record books as one of the 10 wettest Sacramento has ever seen.

“What we’re expecting to see is a major statewide storm,” said Mitch Russo, chief of river forecasting at the California Department of Water Resources. “It will be bringing quite a bit of water with it.”

Rainfall totals will be higher along the coast and in the Sierra Nevada foothills, which could see as much as 10 inches of rain. A blizzard warning is in effect at higher elevations, with up to 3 feet of snow expected above 6,500 feet.

Flooding is expected on local streams and some of the state’s major waterways, particularly along the coast, including the Eel, Russian and Napa rivers. The upper Sacramento River, north of Chico, is also expected to exceed flood stage in several rural areas. In urban areas, residents are being urged to help keep gutters clear to prevent local flooding.

Call The Bee’s Matt Weiser at (916) 321-1264. Follow him on Twitter @matt_weiser.

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