Bob Kind and Catie Redel of Petaluma visit Phoenix Lake in San Anselmo, a reservoir that has seen its water level rise with the recent rainfall. ( Photo: Lacy Atkins, The Chronicle)

By Kurtis Alexander
Updated 5:01 pm, Monday, February 10, 2014

Last month, the small Mendocino County city of Willits faced a real possibility of running out of water. The city’s two reservoirs were approaching record low levels and the city manager estimated that just three months of drinking water remained.

Enter this weekend’s storm. The powerful mass of moist, tropical air from the Pacific Ocean known as a Pineapple Express delivered more rain than Northern California had seen in a year and gave some communities a needed boost to drought-stricken supplies.

Most of the celebrating went on north of the Golden Gate. In Marin County, local reservoirs that were half full, on average, surged to nearly two-thirds full as Mount Tamalpais topped the Bay Area’s rainfall totals with an impressive 20.9 inches of rain.

Farther north, Lake Mendocino, which serves much of Sonoma and Mendocino counties, rose 3 feet to 40 percent of capacity.
Willits pipe

Few places, however, needed the rain as much as Willits, which got an additional dose of good news Monday when the California Department of Public Health said the city would receive $250,000 to install an emergency water pipe to tap ground water.

“We’ve been able to take a breath,” Willits City Manager Adrienne Moore said.

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