With storm activity much milder than expected, evacuation orders were lifted Thursday afternoon for Corona neighborhoods that authorities feared would be inundated with debris and mud flows triggered by heavy rains.
Corona Fire Department spokeswoman Gina Moran-McGough said the decision to lift the mandatory evacuation order, which went into effect at 6 p.m. Wednesday, was made after emergency officials realized the latest storm had “less intensity” than was forecast by the National Weather Service.
The city’s mandatory evacuation applied to virtually all of the same locations impacted by flooding when a major winter storm series struck in early January. The neighborhoods sit at the foot of the Cleveland National Forest, where the 2,600-acre Canyon Fire burned vegetation and denuded hillsides last September. The barren, fire-ravaged spaces now serve as water pooling zones and spillways, threatening the residential areas.
The affected locations included the southern end of Canyon Crest Drive, along Bulrush Circle, Elderberry Circle, Goldenbush Drive, Hidden Hills Way, Oakridge Drive, San Ponte Road and Wilderness Drive.
It was unknown how many residents complied with the evacuation and left their homes.
“Residents are encouraged to continue to monitor news sources and use precaution, as weather can be unpredictable,” Moran-McGough said, adding that future storms will likely prompt similar precautionary measures by public safety officials because the “burned slopes … remain vulnerable for years to come.”
Corona and Riverside received mainly periodic light to moderate showers throughout the day.
According to the Weather Service, a flash flood watch remains in effect for portions of Riverside County until the late-night hours, though no time was specified.
Rainfall rates of a quarter inch per hour wer possible, forecasters said.
Earlier forecasts predicated rates of up to an inch per hour.
The low pressure system bearing down on the region is expected to make a slow exit Friday, with gradually clearing skies going into the weekend.
The Corona, Hemet, Riverside, Murrieta and Riverside County fire departments are continuing to supply free sandbags to residents seeking to shore up their properties.