Orange County is bracing for a winter storm with voluntary evacuations in burn areas, cold weather shelters opening and sandbags available to residents in flood-prone areas.
This comes on the heels of Orange County’s tenth driest November on record in the past 127 years with the county seeing about an inch of rain less this year than normal, according to the California Drought Monitor.
The National Weather Service says that the storm will bring moderate to excessive rainfall over parts of Southern California Tuesday into Wednesday morning. The service says that a “very strong” 160-180 mph jet stream is bringing the storm from southern Alaska down California’s coast and then pushing it across the Colorado Rockies.
The weather service forecast predicts 1-2 inches of rain in Southern California along with cold air and wind gusts that could bring snow across the highest elevations of the Sierra Nevada and Southern California Ranges.
The Orange County region is specifically advised about risks from rainfall – specifically in burn areas, wind gusts of 25-35 miles per hour that could reach up to 45 mph, seas at 7-10 feet and risk of thunderstorms that could produce waterspouts and dangerous lightning strikes.
The weather service also warns about the risk of flash floods and debris flows Tuesday with an expectation of half-an-inch of rain per hour, with coastal mountain slopes possibly reaching three-quarters of an inch of rain per hour. The water could cause rivers, creeks and streams to flood with flash floods and flows of mud and rocks especially in recent burn areas.
Burn Area Voluntary Evacuations
Orange County’s wildfire burn areas were under voluntary evacuation warnings at 2 p.m. Monday, of potential flooding and debris flow in the Bond Fire (Modjeska Canyon, Silverado Canyon and Williams Canyon), issued by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
View the voluntary evacuation zone map here. A care and reception center for evacuees is available after 4 p.m. at the Lake Forest Sport Park, 28000 Rancho Parkway, Lake Forest., according to the sheriff’s department
According to the Sheriff’s Department, Red Cross officials would offer overnight congregate shelter with COVID protocols (masks and social distancing) and that RV and motorhome parking with no hookups would be made available.
“Canyon residents are strongly encouraged to prepare and evacuate now, especially those with disabilities, access and/or functional needs, and canyon residents with large animals,” reads the sheriff’s advisory.
The sheriff’s department lists 714-647-7000 as an evacuation assistance phone line. To report storm-related issues call OC Public Works at 714-955-0200 during normal business hours or 714-955-0333 during alternate hours.
Cold Weather Shelter
The storm has also prompted officials to issue a cold weather emergency shelter plan for 24 hours.
No walk-ups are allowed and the program is only for adults 18 and older, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.
In order to get shelter, residents have to be at one of two locations for pick-up at specific times, according to a health care agency statement on Twitter.
On Monday, officials announced that there would be pickups at two different times to take people to a shelter site at 612 E. Warner Ave. Santa Ana.
According to the Twitter statement, the first pickup time is at 5:15 p.m. with vehicles leaving at 5:30 p.m. at the corner of Flower and Civic Center in Santa Ana (east side of the street) between 6th and Civic Center Drive.
The same Twitter statement notes that the second pickup time is at 6:15 p.m., with vehicles departing at 6:30 p.m. for a second site whose address is not disclosed by HCA but only described as on Walnut, near 1st Street (across the street from the Social Services Agency).
Health Care Agency officials stated participants in the shelters would be required to wear a mask while indoors, maintain social distancing with no weapons, drugs or alcohol allowed.
According to the health care agency statement, participants will be given a meal, access to restrooms and transportation to and from the shelter. For more details, call 213-220-5636.
Residents are also warned of a flash flood risk by the National Weather Service.
Irvine city officials also sent out an advisory with information on receiving 10 free pre-filled sandbags at the operations support facility, 6427 Oak Canyon Road from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Orange County Fire Authority officials put out a release that they will make sand and bags available for residents throughout the county (locations viewable here). Officials are encouraging residents to bring a shovel to fill bags.