Storm to bring heavy rains to Riverside County; evacuation warning issued for

A storm was expected to reach Riverside County on Wednesday, bringing moderate to heavy showers as well as the potential for flash flooding and debris flows through Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

The inclement weather prompted Riverside County officials to issue a voluntary evacuation order late Tuesday for select areas near the recent Holy Fire burn area.

Riverside County officials have issued voluntary evacuation orders for the following neighborhoods near the Cranston Fire burn area: Hurkey Creek, Apple Canyon, Lake Hemet and Fleming Ranch. An evacuation center has been set up at Idyllwild School, 26700 Highway 243.

According to the National Weather Service, a massive trough of low pressure loaded with energy from the Gulf of Alaska and a disturbance farther south in the Pacific will begin spreading across the region Wednesday, gathering strength as it makes landfall.

“Rainfall will become heavy at times on Wednesday night, with the heaviest rainfall on Thursday as the trough passes by to the north, providing additional lift of the tropical moisture,” according to a weather service statement.

The weather service issued a flash-flood watch for the Riverside County mountains, valleys and the San Gorgonio Pass near Banning that will be in effect from late Wednesday through Thursday evening. A high-wind warning also will be in effect in the mountains from noon Wednesday through 10 p.m. Thursday.

The Coachella Valley was not included in either advisory.

Forecasters said the moisture “plume” will pack a one-two punch that could, cumulatively, produce as much as 10 inches of precipitation in isolated locations, mainly in and around mountains.

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Coachella Valley communities and other desert areas could expect about three-quarters of an inch of rain Wednesday and Thursday, the weather service said.

The Riverside County Emergency Management Department issued an evacuation warnings on Tuesday. Though it is only an advisory, it urges recipients to leave for their own safety. 

The warning is for the neighborhoods of Amorose, Alberhill (Pacific Clay), Alvarado-A, Glen Eden, Glen Ivy-A, Glen Ivy-B, Grace, Horsethief-A, Horsethief-B Laguna-A, Lakeside-A, Maitri (Quarry), McVicker-A, Rice and Withrow-A.

It says people in these “zones should go now because it is the safest time to leave.” 

The department statement warned, “This storm is forecast to be the largest yet since the Holy Fire.”

A wide area skirting the eastern boundary of the national forest, including Lake Elsinore and the Temescal Valley, was left exposed to potential flood damage because of the 23,000-acre Holy Fire in August. The blaze denuded steep terrain below Santiago Peak,
permitting water to flow unchecked onto lower slopes where subdivisions are situated. A man has been charged with arson in connection with the blaze.

Snow levels are generally expected to remain above 8,000 feet.

More: Box Canyon Road getting repaired after flooding shut it down months ago

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More: Weather service forecasts more rain in Coachella Valley this week

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The western halves of Riverside and San Bernardino counties are predicted to receive anywhere from 2 to 3 inches as the atmospheric river rolls eastward, forecasters said.

Details about how to prepare and where to go when an evacuation order is issued can be found at www.rivcoready.org. Residents can also sign up for emergency alert notifications via the website.

During a three-part storm series between Jan. 31 and Feb. 4, the EMD issued mandatory evacuation orders covering the Glen Ivy, Horsethief Canyon and McVicker Park communities on the north side of Lake Elsinore and south of El Cerrito, along Interstate 15.

Mud and debris flows prompted several street closures, but no significant damage was reported in connection with the storms. 

According to the weather service, fragments of another storm system will impact Southern California Friday through Sunday, during which scattered showers are in the
forecast.

Published 4:50 PM EST Feb 13, 2019