TRUCKEE (CBS SF) — A cold front continued its march toward Northern California Wednesday, packing gusty winds, intense downpours and the promise of dumping nearly 3 feet of snow on the ski resorts around Lake Tahoe.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for the Lake Tahoe area from 5 p.m. Friday until 4 a.m. Sunday morning.

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The forecast has skiers abuzz with anticipation of the approaching front. Forecasters said 12-18 inches of snow was possible about 6,000 feet south of Highway 50.

At the higher elevations, the weather service said, 1-3 feet was very possible.

Gusty winds were also predicted for the mountain passes where chains could be required of travelers for the first time this fall.

The Bay Area also will be impacted by two storm fronts from Friday through Sunday.

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Light precipitation was expected to develop late Thursday night into Friday morning over the North Bay and along the coastal ranges. Rain would become a bit more widespread Friday night into Saturday as a cold front approaches.

The weather service told residents to expect a brief break in precipitation late Saturday into Sunday morning.

Another frontal boundary through will then roll through late Sunday into Monday morning, bringing another round of showers to the Bay Area.

Overall, the weather service said, the best estimates of rainfall would be 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches in the coastal ranges and in the North Bay Mountains/Hills.

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Meanwhile, amounts of 0.25 of an inch to nearly an inch were forecasted near the coast and in the lower elevations with potentially much lower amounts in the rain shadowed valleys.