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First signs of fall arrive on North Coast

  • The last of summer wanes as an early fall cold front spreads clouds over Sonoma County, Friday Sept. 20, 2013. Santa Rosa's Melissa McGoogan and Joe Saltzman take their son Nolan and their dog Sammy for a walk at Spring Lake in Santa Rosa. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat)

A storm forecast for Saturday, which began with light rain Friday evening, threatens to put a dreary cap on a summer more memorable for cool, overcast days on the North Coast rather than sunny beach weather.

Although the official equinox is 1:44 p.m. Sunday, signs on Friday revealed that fall has already descended upon Sonoma County.

A Pacific Northwest cold front moving across the North Coast was expected to bring up to a half-inch of rain and low temperatures into the 40s, said Bob Benjamin, forecaster with the National Weather Service.

“Probably the first cold front of the season will be draping Sonoma County,” he said. “There will be a noticeable cool down. It's going to feel like fall.”

Temperatures are expected to climb back into the 80s as the system passes Sunday, he said, bringing a pleasant start to fall.

“It was a fairly mild summer,” Benjamin said. “We never had any periods of extremely hot weather.”

Temperatures in Santa Rosa this summer averaged 80 degrees, below the 84 degree average, according to AccuWeather, a forecasting service.

With the grape harvest in high gear and Redwood Empire football teams in final tune up games before league play, Sonoma County residents readied for fall Friday afternoon.

Jim Groverman, owner of Petaluma Pumpkin Patch and Amazing Corn Maze, laid a tarp over a pyramid of hay bales in preparation for next week's opening day.

The popular fall attraction in its 20th year regularly slows traffic along Highway 101 as drivers gawk at the towering corn stalks.

Walking through the 10-foot high plants, Groverman said that fall is his busiest time of year. He recently shipped 18,000 pounds of pumpkins to sellers around the Bay Area.

“It's rewarding putting all summer into a crop and then harvesting what you've grown,” he said. “It's busy but rewarding.”

At the Spirit Halloween store on Santa Rosa Avenue, Gustavo Garcia, 19, and his girlfriend, Amy Alvarado, 18, both Santa Rosa Junior College students, got an early jump on Halloween shopping as they tried on Superman and Superwoman costumes.

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