A low-pressure storm system is expected to reach Riverside County Wednesday, bringing moderate to heavy showers as well as the potential for flash flooding and debris flows, 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.
The NWS 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 evening through Thursday evening. A high wind warning will also be in effect in the county mountains from noon Wednesday through 10 p.m. Thursday. The Coachella Valley was not included in either advisory.
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 afternoon, according to the NWS.
The system will bring steady rain starting this evening and continuing overnight into Thursday, when the heaviest rainfall is expected, NWS meteorologist Miguel Miller said.
The Riverside metropolitan area and Lake Elsinore are forecast to get up to four-tenths of an inch of rainfall Wednesday, while up to six-tenths of an inch is expected in the San Gorgonio Pass near Banning and the Coachella Valley will receive around one-tenth of an inch, forecasters said. Idyllwild and Pine Cove could get up to 2 inches of rainfall Wednesday.
Snow levels will remain above 9,000 feet, Miller said.
South to southwest winds of 25 to 40 mph, with gusts reaching 65 mph, are expected Wednesday afternoon through Thursday evening, according to the NWS.
The Riverside County Emergency Management Department on Tuesday issued voluntary evacuation orders for the following neighborhoods near the Holy Fire burn area: Amorose, Alberhill, Alvarado-A, Glen Eden, Glen Ivy-A, Glen Ivy-B, Grace, Horsethief-A, Laguna-A, Lakeside-A, Maitri, McVicker-A, Rice and Withrow-A. The order was extended to the Horsethief-B neighborhood Wednesday morning.
The EMD also advised residents near the Cranston burn area, which blackened just over 13,000 acres between Hemet and Idyllwild, to prepare for potential evacuation orders by arranging transportation, putting fuel in cars and making plans to care for animals.
County officials urged residents to check maps at www.RivCoReady.org/StormReady to determine if they are in an evacuation area. Residents can also sign up for emergency alert notifications via the website.
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, allegedly the work of an arsonist, denuded steep terrain below Santiago Peak, permitting water to flow unchecked onto lower slopes where subdivisions are situated.
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.
The storm will die down significantly late Thursday afternoon and scattered showers are expected to continue through Monday afternoon, Miller said.
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