Los Angeles Prepares for Monster El Niño

Los Angeles Prepares for Monster El Niño
Stephen Carr/L.A. Weekly Flickr pool

The jury's still out on whether we'll see the "Godzilla" El Niño" suggested by a Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist.

An expert we talked to said it's way too early to determine how fierce this El Niño will be in winter: Current computer weather modeling can barely tell us what's going to happen in the next seven days.

However, it does appear we are going to have an El Niño of some variety. L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis wants us to be prepared for the worst.

She paired up this week with Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich to introduce a motion that asks county staffers to report back on what preparations they're making for winter storm season.

"With a 85 to 90 percent chance of El Niño hitting this winter or next spring," she says, "we need to evaluate the health of our first responders and have a plan in place to deal with damages that El Niño will incur to our region."

Not a bad idea.

Remember that the county will bear the brunt of first responses, cleanup and repairs if this little one turns out to be a giant. The El Niño of 1982-83 caused an estimated $8 billion in damage throughout the Pacific region.

Government in this county of 10 million employs thousands of lifeguards, firefighters and sheriff's deputies, and it maintains harbors (Marina del Rey), beaches and many mountain roads.

The motion states:

It is critical that the county assesses its risks and vulnerabilities and prepare for emergency response. The county should also strategize on the best way to capture and reuse the vast amounts of stormwater that will otherwise flow down into sewers and concrete rivers to the sea. 

It notes that remnants of Hurricane Delores early this summer alone caused mudslides, flash flooding and a Riverside County bridge collapse.

The proposal asks staffers to report back on preparations, including the condition of flood control facilities and any plans to capture rainwater.

"With a forecasted El Niño season approaching," Antonovich said, "we will be directing county departments to take every precaution necessary to protect life and property."

Now it's the city of L.A.'s turn to prepare.


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