The National Weather Service says a significant storm will bring between a quarter and a half-an-inch of rain to the valley and up to 2.5 inches of rain to the Sierra.
David Rowe with the weather service says there will be snow too.
"Probably about a foot to a foot and a half at the ski areas and maybe 2 to 3 inches down to about 4,500 feet," says Rowe.
Rowe says there are also flooding concerns in areas scarred by wildfire last summer -- for example the Rim Fire near Yosemite.
"When you get heavy rainfall intensity in a short amount of time, you tend to get mud and dust and debris left over from the fires last summer that'll accumulate and run downhill," he says.
Rowe says this will be a significant storm, but the region needs a series of these storms to start recovering from the drought. He says the forecast is dry again for the weekend and early next week.
Rowe urges valley commuters to use caution, especially Thursday morning, when the roads are likely to be slick, and says chains will likely be required in the Sierra.
The weather is about to change. Attached is the NOAA prediction for snow onI-80. Be prepared for winter driving. pic.twitter.com/kEvvfGXHAo— Caltrans District 3 (@D3PIO) January 28, 2014
The weather forecast through the weekend includes thunderstorms and lightning for parts of northern California, which could spark new wildfires.
Data released Thursday by the State Water Resources Control Board shows 265 out of 411 local agencies hit or nearly reached savings targets.
Triple digit heat has many people staying cool inside. But outdoor workers don't have that option.
The above-average rains of the past week did not ease drought conditions or improve reservoir storage in California. The drought expanded in other parts of the western U.S.
(AP) -- Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California has come out with a new drought relief bill that emphasizes long-term investments in desalination, recycling and new or expanded reservoirs.