Looming clouds at Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve on Oct. 19, 2021. Credit: Supriya Yelimeli

Berkeley residents with outdoor plans will want to bring an umbrella this week, as a multi-day storm is expected to bring substantial rainfall to the Bay Area.

Berkeley should expect to see a total of 1 to 1.5 inches of rain between Saturday morning and Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. The rain will likely start off light — less than a tenth of an inch is anticipated Saturday — before ramping up to heavier showers Sunday afternoon. Conditions are expected to dry out next Wednesday. 

Residents should also expect it to remain chilly, with temperatures expected to drop to 54 degrees Tuesday. 

The NWS is not anticipating strong winds or widespread floods; it’s still early in the wet season, so the ground is able to absorb “quite a bit of rain,” meteorologist Roger Gass said. 

This rainstorm should be relatively mild and is not out of the ordinary for the time of year, Gass said. October typically marks the start of the Bay Area’s wet season, and November sees more widespread rainfall. (Last October, an atmospheric river dropped nearly 9 inches of rain in parts of Berkeley, more than seven times the city’s annual average for the month.)

A number of climate scientists have predicted that the storm this weekend, which has brought rain and snowfall across northern California, will spell the end to this year’s wildfire season. It’ll definitely improve and damper down any immediate fire concerns, Gass said.

While the rainfall is good news for the state, it won’t be enough to end the three-year drought. The period from 2020 to 2022 in California is currently the driest three years on record, breaking the old record set by the 2013-15 drought, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

More than a quarter of Alameda County is now in “extreme” drought — a step up in severity from the “severe” drought the entire county has been in since January 2022, according to an Oct. 28 NWS drought report.

Rainfall from this storm, Gass said, is a “drop in the bucket” when it comes to battling a prolonged drought.

“We would need to see a well-above average winter season rainfall for us to start to climb out of that drought,” Gass said. “But again, this is good news, so we’ll take whatever rainfall we can get.”

Learn more about drought in Alameda County 

PG&E officials are reminding customers to prepare flashlights (not candles) and turn off electric appliances if a power outage occurs to prevent fire hazards when power is restored.

City leaders have been sharing information about storm safety and flood prevention and reminding residents and businesses they can call 311 (or 510-981-2489 after hours) to report storm-related issues “such as a clogged drain, culvert, inlet, or creek; a fallen tree or major limb; a malfunctioning traffic signal; or flooding that enters a travel lane.”

Featured photo: John Andrew Rice

Iris Kwok covers the environment for Berkeleyside through a partnership with Report for America. A former music journalist, her work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, KQED, San Francisco Examiner...