A storm system is bringing rain to the Inland Empire and could dump snow in some parts of the Riverside and San Bernardino county mountains, but it is still too early to tell whether flooding might occur, particularly in burn-scarred areas, forecasters said.

The south-moving storm began dousing the region early Saturday and is expected to continue through this evening, according to the National Weather Service.

The Riverside metropolitan area and Lake Elsinore are expected to get up to a half-inch of rainfall over the weekend, while around four-tenths of an inch of rain is expected in the San Gorgonio Pass near Banning, and the Coachella Valley could get around two-tenths of an inch, meteorologists said.

The NWS has issued a winter weather advisory for the San Bernardino County Mountains set to expire at 6 p.m. Saturday, with snow levels expected to drop to 6,000 feet.

The low-impact rain event makes it unlikely that flooding, mud and debris flows will develop around the Cleveland National Forest and communities near the foot of the Lake Matthews Estelle Mountain Reserve, including Lake Elsinore and the Temescal Valley, according to the Riverside County Emergency Management Department.

“Since weather can change, public safety officials will continue to monitor the incoming storms,” the agency stated. “Residents are urged to always be aware of their surroundings and take personal responsibility for their safety.”

Storm cells that crossed the area last week did not trigger any hazards, despite rainfall totals nearing an inch in some spots.

A wide area skirting the eastern boundary of the Cleveland National Forest was left exposed to potential flood and mud damage because of the 23,000-acre Holy Fire in August. The blaze, allegedly the work of an arsonist, denuded steep terrain below Santiago Peak, permitting water to flow unchecked onto lower slopes where subdivisions are situated.

Rains on Dec. 6 resulted in significant flooding and mud flows into several neighborhoods, prompting street closures and evacuations. However, there was no major damage to homes.

The storm system will move east out of the region by Sunday, but a separate system expected to bring multiple rounds of significant rain could sweep into the region beginning Monday or Tuesday, according to the NWS.

When precipitation is expected to result in storm-related hazards, the Emergency Management Department may issue voluntary evacuation orders. The agency posts mandatory orders when threats are confirmed.

More information is available at www.rivcoready.org.

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