Even as relief for California's drought-stricken communities inched closer Thursday, the first in a one-two punch of storms arriving in the Bay Area resembled a jab more than a haymaker.

Barely more than an inch of rain fell on some Bay Area communities, and less than an inch fell on many others during intermittent showers that fell Wednesday night into Thursday morning. That was the precursor, National Weather Service forecasters said, for a system that is expected to arrive Thursday evening, bringing with it more intense rain, heavy winds, and the chance of flash floods.

What it won't bring is a cure-all to California's parched state, which forecasters said would need several major storms to make a significant dent in the worst drought in memory.

"We need a lot of rain," forecaster Bob Benjamin said. "And we need a lot of rain for a long time."

Season to-date totals of rainfall for downtown San Francisco hover at 6.84 inches, with Concord not far behind at 6.55 inches. Oakland has seen only 5.03 inches of rain, with San Jose suffering the brunt of the dry weather, with only 3.36 inches to-date, according to the forecasting service.

As a result, the California Legislature is preparing for the worst. On Thursday, the Legislature sped a $687 million relief package to Gov. Jerry Brown that would use mostly unspent bond money to help communities with infrastructure projects such as capturing stormwater and distributing recycled water.

The bill also would set aside millions of dollars for drinking water for communities at risk of running out.

According to the Sacramento Bee, the Assembly passed the bill 65-0, and the Senate sent it forward with only three dissenting votes.

The rain that fell Wednesday put into context how much is needed. The NWS reported that .96 inches of rain fell in San Francisco, while Kensington (. 85) led Contra Costa County and Castro Valley (. 79) topped Alameda County. More than an inch fell in many Santa Clara County communities, but only .63 inches fell in San Jose.

The heaviest rain came in the Lexington Hills in Santa Clara County, with some areas recording 3 inches of rain. In the Santa Cruz Mountains, Boulder Creek recorded 3.45 inches and Ben Lomond 2.73. Marty Grimes of the Santa Clara Valley Water District said Wednesday that eight inches would be needed to generate runoff that will start replenishing shallow reservoirs.

The storms bringing snowfall to the Sierra Nevada won't bring an immediate fix, either, forecasters said. Between 6 and 12 inches of snow fell above 6,000 feet Wednesday, and at least that much was expected from the second storm, forecaster Eric Kurth said.

Still, Department of Water Resources snow surveyors said the snowpack's statewater content is at 24 percent of normal and just 21 percent of the average April 1 reading, the date when the state anticipates snow has begun to melt. California's major reservoirs also are dangerously low, with Lake Oroville in Butte County at only 39 percent of its capacity, Shasta Lake north of Redding only 38 percent of capacity and the San Luis Reservoir at 33 percent of capacity.

"We welcome the late storms, but they are not enough to end the drought," DWR director Mark Cowin said. "We can't control the weather, but we can control the amount of water we use."

The second storm wasn't far behind, with forecasters saying it would begin to arrive around sunset and leave its heaviest mark after midnight Friday. At least 2 inches of rain are expected throughout each of the nine Bay Area counties, with the heaviest rain anticipated to be in the mountains and in the South Bay, Benjamin said.

Winds were expected to increase later Thursday and expected to blow between 25 and 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph into Friday, he said. A high-wind advisory will start at 1 a.m. Friday morning and last into Saturday, he said.

The first storm created few troubles on the road or elsewhere. Benjamin said the NWS received no reports of flash flooding in any Bay Area communities, though it could be a possibility when the second storm comes through.

On the roads, a tanker carrying thousands of gallons of gasoline overturned on Highway 101 in Morgan Hill just after 1 a.m., causing all lanes to be closed into the commute hours. The tanker collided with a Nissan 350 Z that spun out of control while traveling at 80 mph in heavy rain, according to the CHP.

In Orinda, a car spun out and overturned on Highway 24 near the Orinda BART station around 10 a.m., but CHP Officer Kevin Bartlett said nobody was injured.

"Slow down, eliminate distractions, space out the amount of space between you and the car in front of you. The normal things you hear all the time," Bartlett said when asked how to avoid catastrophe in the weather. "When people hydroplane, it's because they're going too fast, and their tire isn't making contact with the pavement. If you spin or hydroplane, steer in the direction of the spin. But mostly slow down. You can be going the speed limit and still be going way too fast."

At San Francisco Airport, 73 flights were canceled by noon, 35 of them departures, airport duty manager Larry Mares said. A ground delay was in effect for flights west of Denver, which was expected to make traveling easier, and most flights were leaving about 30 minutes late, Mares said.

PG&E did not report any downed lines but reminded customers that any line on the ground should be considered a live line and dangerous and reported to 911 or the company at 1-800-743-5002. In case of power outages, customers were urged to unplug electrical outlets and use a lantern, not candles. Generators were to be avoided unless they are installed safely, and refrigerators are to be opened as few times as possible to prevent food from spoiling.

The first storm did not cause any major outages.

Contact Rick Hurd at 925-945-4789 and follow him at Twitter.com/3rdERH.