A potent rainstorm that launched a predicted five-day run of wet weather on the North Coast dropped more than 2 inches of rain Wednesday on some areas of Sonoma County and beyond.
The deluge flooded several roadways during its peak, cut power to thousands of people, toppled trees and sent motorists skidding during the morning commute.
But emergency officials said the worst likely still lies ahead as successive storms saturate soils, weaken hillsides, loosen trees and generate runoff the ground can't absorb.
"It's not quite enough rain yet to really be problematic, so we're keeping our fingers crossed," said Tom Kelly, senior administrative assistant for the Santa Rosa Department of Public Works. "But it's bound to be a big week for us."
As much as 6 inches of rain could fall on the Santa Rosa Plain by Sunday, National Weather Service meteorologist Diana Henderson said.
In the coastal hills, total rainfall could reach a foot or more, she said.
"It's going to come in spurts, but there is a lot of moisture out there, so it's just the beginning stages," Henderson said Wednesday.
"Give it time," said Rob Houweling, Sonoma County transportation operations coordinator. "If the storm rolls out like they say it's going to, we'll probably have flooding, slides, trees, those issues."
After several hours of hard rain around the county before noon Wednesday, Henderson said the next torrent will probably come later today, with rain becoming even heavier overnight.
But Wednesday's numbers were impressive. Totals recorded by the AccuWeather forecasting service for the 24-hour period that ended at 4 p.m. included Cazadero, 2.50 inches; Guerneville, 1.85 inches; Healdsburg, 1.75 inches; Sebastopol, 1.70 inches; Calistoga, 1.69 inches; Cloverdale, 1.66 inches; and Middletown, 1.64 inches. The Mendocino County town of Boonville received a whopping 2.75 inches.