The third storm system of the year is expected to dump heavy rainfall and snow in the Inland Empire Monday, prompting authorities to issue mandatory evacuation orders for numerous communities in the Holy Fire burn area due to the potential for dangerous mud slides and debris flows.

The inclement weather prompted the National Weather Service to issue a flash flood warning for the Riverside County Mountains, valleys and the San Gorgonio Pass near Banning from Monday afternoon through this evening. The Coachella Valley is forecast to get up to three-tenths of an inch of rain Monday, but no flash flooding is expected, according to the NWS.

Up to eight-tenths of an inch of rain are expected in the Riverside metropolitan area and Lake Elsinore while the San Gorgonio Pass near Banning could see up to 1 inch of rain, forecasters said.

Snow levels will drop to around 5,000 feet, with areas above 7,000 feet expected to see up to a foot of snow, meteorologists said.

The NWS to issued a winter storm warning for the county mountains, including the Idyllwild and Pine Cove area, effective from noon Monday to 10 a.m. Tuesday.

The heaviest rainfall is expected to hit the region Monday afternoon, with rainfall rates exceeding a half-inch per hour possible primarily in areas near the Orange County coast, meteorologists said.

The Riverside County Emergency Management Department issued mandatory evacuation orders Monday morning for residents in the Amorose, Alberhill, Glen Ivy, Glen Eden, Grace, Horsethief, Laguna, Maitri, McVicker, Rice and Withrow neighborhoods, just west of Lake Elsinore on the border of the Cleveland National Forest.

A care and reception center was set up at Temescal Canyon High School at 28755 El Toro Rd. in Lake Elsinore to take in residents.

Small animals were being accepted at the San Jacinto Animal Campus at 581 South Grand Ave. in San Jacinto.

County officials said they did not anticipate debris flows in the Cranston Fire burn area.

More information is available at www.rivcoready.org.

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 cell could weaken on Tuesday but regain strength on Wednesday and Thursday, potentially bringing another round of heavy rainfall, forecasters said.

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