A winter storm has brought increased rainfall and prompted the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to issue voluntary evacuation warnings for residents within Silverado Canyon and the surrounding regions of the Santa Ana Mountains near Irvine and Lake Forest. 

The evacuation warning, issued at 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 4, came as an atmospheric river delivered more than four inches of rain to mountainous regions above Irvine.

On Monday, Feb. 5, the Orange County Public Works Department reported that crews were removing “rocks and light mud” from the hillsides on roads near Silverado Canyon. OCPW also shared videos of quick-moving water coming down Silverado Creek and advised residents to avoid riverbeds and creeks during heavy rainfall. 


In an update via OCPW’s X account, the department said that no issues have been reported, but in anticipation of the heavy rains ahead, heavy equipment crews have been stationed within the region and will remain on call. 

“With voluntary evacuation in place for Silverado, Modjeska, Williams & Trabuco Canyons in Orange County, OCPW has crews on-call & heavy equipment already staged in the canyons. No issues reported yet. We are ready to respond if any rain issues arise,” the update read.

 In a statement posted to the Sheriff’s Department website, the warning suggests that residents be prepared for an emergency or mandatory evacuation in which they can exit their homes efficiently.

“Canyon residents are strongly encouraged to prepare and voluntarily evacuate on Sunday, February 4 at 7 pm, especially those with disabilities, access and/or functional needs, and canyon residents with large animals,” the statement read.  

The National Weather Service also issued a flood watch on Monday, Feb. 5, for several regions of Southern California, including many inland and coastal communities in Orange County, including Irvine, Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach and Mission Viejo.  

In Irvine, the city announced the closure of the San Diego Creek and Peters Canyon bike trails and athletic fields on Monday, Feb. 5.

According to rainfall data from the National Weather Service released Monday, Irvine received 1.89 inches of rain, while Modjeska Canyon received 2.91 inches of rain. The service also reported that Holy Jim Canyon received a total of 4.05 inches as of Monday, with expected rainfall totals estimated to bring another inch of rain into Tuesday. 

The NWS reports that the current storm is expected to bring an increased chance of flooding in creeks, streams, and rivers through Tuesday, Feb. 6. Residents in higher elevations should expect the risk of runoff and mudslides.   

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