A big storm began pushing through the Northern California early Thursday. Officials at the National Weather Service predict that it will be the fiercest storm in five years due to powerful winds and heavy rainfall. Residents in the area amassed supplies, and public schools cancelled classes. Schools in San Francisco, Berkeley, West Contra Costa, Marin County, Oakland and many other districts were closed for Thursday.

Fiercest Storm In Five Years Hits Northern California; Schools Cancel Classes

The storm could cause debris slides

Some colleges, including the College of Marin and City College of San Francisco also announced closures. San Francisco officials said that safety of children was a big part of the closure. If too many staff members were absent, it could cause inadequate supervision. The possibility of power outages would further create problems. Schools are expected to reopen Friday. But that will depend on the storm, and whether the buildings are flooded.

Early Thursday, gusty winds and moderate rain hit San Francisco, with authorities expecting heavier rain in coming hours. Fox News says that the storm could also cause debris slides in areas affected by wildfires earlier this year. The weather service expects up to 8 inches of rain on coastal mountains in 24 hours. Forecaster Diana Henderson said she was expecting localized flooding, downed power lines and downed trees.

Farmers looking forward to the dousing

Meteorologist Charles Bell said the storm will continue to advance towards the south throughout the day on Thursday. Residents rushed to stock up emergency supplies. Many stores had run out of flashlights, batteries and water. The storm is expected to strike some parts of Southern California before moving through Nevada, Idaho and Arizona.

Meteorologists forecast wind gusts of up to 70mph on mountain tops, which could create blizzard conditions. However, farmers in California were looking forward to heavy rains after severe drought. Farmers have witnessed three consecutive dry years. The rain in the Sierra Nevada fills water reservoirs that supply water for irrigation purposes during dry months.