Wildfire burn areas in Orange County temporarily evacuated as storm pounds Southern California – San Bernardino Sun

A storm sweeping through Southern California on Monday afternoon brought heavy rainfall and prompted temporary evacuation orders for communities recently scarred by wildfires.

Residents in Silverado, Williams and Modjeska canyons in Orange County were ordered to evacuate due to possible debris flows in the area, county officials said. In 2020, the Bond fire menaced all three canyon communities on the edge of the Cleveland National Forest.

The flooding fears that initially prompted Orange County to issue the mandatory orders took effect at noon. But by 4 p.m., the order was downgraded to an evacuation warning.

No evacuation orders were issued for canyon communities in Los Angeles, San Bernardino or Riverside counties as of Monday afternoon, but weather officials warned of possible flooding on city streets in those areas.

“Everybody’s going to get heavy rain, but obviously the Bond fire areas are most sensitive,” said Matt Moreland, a meteorologist with the NWS in San Diego. “In (the Inland Empire) and urban areas of Orange County, we’re mainly concerned about street flooding.”

Rain catches in the San Gabriel Mountains were already swollen with water by mid-morning. And the Los Angeles River was flowing rapidly; a dog was seen struggling in the water and was eventually rescued.

Most mountain areas were expected to receive between 1 to 2 inches of rain by Thursday, and snow was possible as low as 6,000 feet, according to the National Weather Service in Los Angeles. Valley and coastal areas could see as many as 1.5 inches of rain.

As of 5 p.m., 1.85 inches of rain was recorded at an NWS gauge at Lytle Creek, .55 inches of rain was observed in San Antonio Heights and .35 inches was measured in Temecula, according to the NWS’ San Diego office. In Los Angeles County, NWS records showed east Pasadena received 2.1 inches and Woodland Hills 1.32 inches of rain in the 24-hour period ending just before 6:30 p.m.

The downpour Monday follows several days of fairly hot and dry weather. The storms are the result of a dramatic change in atmospheric pressure out over the Pacific Ocean, Moreland said.

Potential debris flows in the Bond fire burn scar are of concern. After a dry 2021, much of the canyon areas burned in Fall 2020 have had little new brush growth, meaning the soil on canyon slopes has nothing to anchor it down. That means the threshold for the amount of rainfall that could trigger flows is especially low right now, Moreland said.

“Unfortunately that means that any time we get any amount of rain, those areas will be sensitive to debris flows,” he said.

Staff writer Quinn Wilson contributed to this story.

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