Northern California braces for major storms

SAN FRANCISCO — Northern California residents are bracing for gusty winds, heavy rain, high seas and snow in the mountains as the area prepares for a series of storms.

In the first of three storms, rain began falling Wednesday with snow in the mountains. Two more storms were forecast to follow, delivering more rain and snow across much of Northern California through Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

Wind gusts could reach as high as 70 mph in coastal areas.

"There's an atmospheric river coming directly toward the coast," National Weather Service meteorologist Charles Bell told the San Francisco Chronicle (http://bit.ly/WtKw2M ).

With large waves expected to be generated by the storms, the U.S. Coast Guard is warning people to stay away from jetties and rocky areas along the coast.

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