A cold storm triggered flooding in areas of the Inland Empire Thursday, prompting mandatory evacuation orders in parts of the Temescal Valley and Lake Elsinore, where schools were also closed due to the inclement weather.
The Lake Elsinore Unified School District shuttered Luiseno Elementary School, Rice Canyon Elementary School, Withrow Elementary School, Terra Cotta Middle School and Lakeside High School, all of which are situated in or near residential areas under mandatory evacuation because of flooding, mud and debris flow risks.
With evacuation orders still not lifted by late Thursday afternoon, district officials decided to extend the closures into Friday at Luiseno, Rice Canyon, Terra Cotta and Withrow. Lakeside High and all other LEUSD campuses will be open Friday, officials said.
Rain bands swept through Riverside County all day, causing heavy runoff in the Cleveland National Forest, on which county Emergency Management Department staff remained focused, fearing potential mud and debris flows into residential areas.
There were no reports of significant damage. However, multiple roads were closed between Corona and Lake Elsinore because of pooling water. Thunderstorms pounded the Riverside metropolitan area at nightfall, causing roadway hazards and wrecks.
A mandatory evacuation order that went into effect Wednesday remained in effect Thursday night for Lake Elsinore residents along Alberhill Ranch Road and Amorose Street, residents west of Laguna Avenue, as well as residents on Glen Eden Road south of Corona, the Glen Ivy Hot Springs community, the Horsethief Canyon community and the area around McVicker Park in Lake Elsinore.
A map delineating which neighborhoods are impacted is available at rivcoready.org/Have-a-Plan/Flooding/Storm-Ready .
A care and reception center is open at Temescal Canyon High School.
Residents were invited to house large and small animals at the San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus, 581 S. Grand Ave. in San Jacinto.
The National Weather Service was forecasting up to an inch of rain in Lake Elsinore, Corona and Riverside.
The San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains were expected to receive up to 3.75 inches of precipitation, according to the weather service. Snow levels were predicted to drop below 6,000 feet.
The weather service issued a winter weather advisory for portions of the Riverside County mountains above 6,000 feet from noon Thursday to 2 a.m. Friday.
A flash flood advisory was set to expire Friday morning.
Burn-scarred slopes — the result of the August Holy Fire that began on the Orange County side of the Cleveland National Forest — are highly susceptible to heavy runoff that could prove damaging, according to county officials.
Multiple community meetings have been held over the last two months to inform residents of the risks and what to do in the event of a big storm. The Holy Fire, allegedly the work of an arsonist, scorched roughly 23,000 acres.
Rain fell in the burn zone created by the 13,000-acre Cranston Fire, and small-scale mud and rock slides were reported. Both Idyllwild and Pine Cove were included in a flash flood watch in effect until 3 a.m. Friday.
The storm was generating strong, gusty winds, prompting the weather service to issue a wind advisory from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the San Gorgonio Pass near Banning, Idyllwild and Pine Cove. The Coachella Valley was not included in the wind advisory.
A second, weaker storm is expected to bring rain Saturday afternoon into Sunday morning.