Scattered showers are expected throughout Riverside County Wednesday as one storm makes way for a more powerful system expected to sweep into the region Wednesday evening, with voluntary evacuation orders remaining in effect for numerous communities in the Holy Fire burn area due to the potential for dangerous mudslides and debris flows.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for the Riverside County mountains and valleys through Thursday afternoon.
In a 48-hour period ending at 7 a.m., rainfall totals included 1.07 inches at the Riverside Municipal Airport, 1.22 inches in Temecula, 1.46 inches in Murrieta, .90 of an inch at the Palm Springs International Airport, 1.03 inches in Beaumont and .89 of an inch in Idyllwild, according to the NWS.
The Riverside metropolitan area is expected to get another six-tenths of an inch of rainfall Wednesday, while Lake Elsinore and the San Gorgonio Pass near Banning are set to receive around three-tenths of an inch, and less than one-tenth is forecast for the Coachella Valley, meteorologists said.
“The greatest threat for flash flooding (in Riverside County) would be between 9 a.m. (Thursday) and 5 p.m. Thursday,” according to a National Weather Service statement.
Snow levels were at 7,000 feet Wednesday morning and expected to rise to 8,500 feet by Wednesday evening, NWS meteorologist Jimmy Taeger said.
The Riverside County Emergency Management Department issued mandatory evacuation orders Monday morning for neighborhoods north of Lake Elsinore. Those orders were downgraded to voluntary evacuation warnings on Monday night, but the EMD asked residents to stay alert to changes over the next 36 hours that could mean another mandatory evacuation.
The orders cover residents in the Amorose, Alberhill, Glen Ivy, Glen Eden, Grace, Horsethief Canyon, Laguna, Maitri, McVicker, Rice and Withrow neighborhoods, which border the Cleveland National Forest.
A care and reception center was set up at Temescal Canyon High School at 28755 El Toro Road in Lake Elsinore to take in residents under the voluntary evacuation orders. Small animals were being accepted at the San Jacinto Animal Campus at 581 S. Grand Ave. in San Jacinto.
County officials said they did not anticipate debris flows in the Cranston Fire burn area.
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.
Light showers will continue throughout the region Wednesday before the final storm sweeps in Wednesday evening and brings moderate to heavy rain through Thursday night, forecasters said.
More information is available at www.rivcoready.org.