Powerful Pacific storm dumps rain, snow on Riverside County

RIVERSIDE – A powerful Pacific storm brought rain, wind and snow to Riverside County overnight and threatened today to create hazardous driving conditions and cause flooding where wild fires burned last year, the National Weather Service said.

In the mountains, a winter storm warning was in effect until 10 p.m. today, with heavy, wet snow forecast and difficult driving conditions expected in the Idyllwild-Pine Cove area, the NWS said. The snow and wind could damage or knock down trees and power lines, while wind and fog could reduce visibility to less than a half mile.

“If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency,” the NWS warned.

In the mountain areas, the storm could bring 2 to 8 inches above 5,000 feet and up to 18 inches of snow above 8,000 feet.

West of the mountains, a wind advisory was in effect in Riverside and Corona, according to the NWS. The wind advisory signifies winds of 35 mph with gusts to 40 mph and could create hazardous driving conditions for high-profile vehicles.

In the Coachella Valley, a high wind warning was slated to take effect at 6 a.m. today and expire at 10 tonight. The west winds were expected to be 20 to 30 mph with gusts to 50 mph in the Coachella Valley, the San Gorgonio pass near Banning, Banning and Desert Hot Springs.

Those high winds were expected to make travel dangerous for high-profile vehicles and create the potential for “isolated property damage … near the desert slopes of the mountains, “the weather service said.

The NWS issued a flash flood watch for Riverside County valleys, the Riverside metropolitan area, Moreno Valley and Corona. The flash flood watch was also in effect in areas near recent wild fire burn areas, including the Wildomar Fire, which burned 866 acres west of Wildomar City in October, and the Manzanita Fire, which burned more than 6,300 acres in June south of Beaumont.

In response to the flooding dangers, city officials in Corona urged some residents to prepare to evacuate while county officials made sandbags and sand available.

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