El Niño storm mudslide threat closes Silverado Canyon in OC

A "very active'' band of storms pummeled Orange County Wednesday, with lighting strikes sighted in Corona Del Mar beach and forecasters predicting possible water spouts and tornadoes, while county emergency officials warned residents in Silverado Canyon to retreat to higher ground.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for the fire-denuded hillsides of Silverado Canyon until 5 p.m. and a flash flood advisory for the rest of the county until 6:45 p.m.

Heavy rainfall was expected to last until at least 3 p.m., according to NWS meteorologist Mark Moede.

A voluntary evacuation order was in effect in Silverado Canyon, and an evacuation center was established at Silverado Community Center, 27641 Silverado Canyon Road. Few residents, however, were believed to have actually evacuated the area.

When the flash flood warning was issued around midday, Orange County emergency-operations officials urged Silverado Canyon residents to "move to higher ground and take immediate measures to protect life and property.''

They warned that the storm could produce "damaging winds, hail, lightning and heavy rain.''

Nearly 1,000 acres were scorched in a mid-September 2014 blaze, making the hillside ripe for mudslides.

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