- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - After three days of record-breaking heat, a cold front from Oregon brought high winds and rain to Northern California on Wednesday with gusts of up to 45 mph in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The system also brought rain to Southern California, with a forecast of high winds for later Wednesday,

Most places are expected to see a quarter-inch to a half-inch of rain as the cold front moves through the area Wednesday evening and Thursday. It is expected to drop between 1 and 2 feet of new snow in California’s highest peaks.

Commuters can expect a soggy, windy drive home Wednesday, said forecaster Steve Anderson in the National Weather Service’s Monterey office.

“It’ll be a wet commute tonight, so be patient and allow extra time to get home,” Anderson said. “It’s still wintertime.”

Beaches in Southern California were crowded after the holiday weekend saw record-breaking heat from Los Angeles to San Diego. The weather service said the high in downtown Los Angeles hit 90 degrees on Tuesday, breaking the old record of 88 for the day that was set in 1977. San Diego’s high of 89 was eight degrees above the 1981 record. The airport in San Francisco recorded 72, beating a 2007 high.

Farther north, a mixture of rain and snow is expected to hit the Sierra Nevada late Wednesday with the heaviest snows falling overnight.

The National Weather Service expects about 1 to 2 feet of fresh snow at highest peaks, with snow rates of 2 to 3 inches an hour.

Combine that with gusting winds, and drivers may face low visibility and white-out conditions Wednesday night, weather service meteorologist Edan Weishahn said.

The system moving into California from the north should be in and out quickly, leaving the forecast for Thursday cold and breezy with leftover snowfall.

The focus will be on high winds until Wednesday night.

Already, there are reports of downed power lines in Truckee, California, where winds are about 35 mph. Winds in the area could hit 50 to 60 mph, Weishahn said.

Warm weather and sunny skies are expected to return this weekend.

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