What is El Nino?
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, El Niño, characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, is an oscillation of the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific having important consequences for weather around the globe. Among these consequences are increased rainfall across the southern tier of the US and in Peru, which has caused destructive flooding, and drought in the West Pacific.
The National Weather Service has predicted El Nino conditions, which will likely produce more numerous storms (not necessarily more intense storms) during January – March 2016. While it is not possible to predict the amount of rain we can expect, the strength of El Nino favors a strong event.
When we have two or more consecutive storms, the ground can reach saturation and flooding can occur.
Before the Storm
- Check the forecast daily. The National Weather Service is the best resource as it also issues Warnings and Advisories.
- Close all windows and doors.
- Ensure there are floor mats at the main exterior entrances to buildings; if needed, call Facilities Management Quality Assurance at 310-338-7779 (or 87779 from a campus phone).
- Consider designating a receptacle for umbrellas and other rain gear to prevent carpets and floors from getting wet.
- Be prepared for a power outage.
- Be sure you have food and water for at least three days, and your emergency kit is up to date. Be prepared for a power outage.
- Improve drainage around your home—check drains and gutters to be sure they are clear of debris and functioning properly.
- Consider purchasing flood insurance as many general home owners and renters insurance plans do not include provisions for flood.
- Ensure your roof is in good shape.
- Secure patio furniture during storms, and be mindful of yard trims, compost piles and other items in your yard, which could be swept away by water or wind ultimately blocking storm drains.
- If you live downslope, check with them to be sure they are prepared.
- Schedule a bulky-items pick up through the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation (800-773-2489) rather than leaving those items on the curb.
- Keep in mind that the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation may suspend trash pick up during heavy rain to minimize potential for items (including trash bins) to be swept away and ultimately blocking storm drains.
- Obtain sand bags if necessary, which you can pick up for free from every Los Angeles Fire Department fire station. Note that not all fire stations carry sand.
- Visit your local fire station to learn more about specific, potential impacts of flooding in your area.
During the Storm
- Keep windows and doors closed.
- Do NOT try to cross flood waters by foot or in your vehicle. Over half of flood related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into flood water; the second highest incident causing fatality during storms is people trying to walk in flood waters. It only takes 12 inches of water to lose control of your vehicle, and 6 inches of water to sweep you off your feet. If trapped in your vehicle, stay with it. Only evacuate to the hood of your vehicle if necessary.
- Be aware that there will likely be more traffic. You can help keep the roadways open for emergency vehicles if you go out only when necessary.
- Listen to instructions from the Los Angeles Fire and Police Departments. Follow the news and evacuate immediately if orders are given in your area. You may also receive a Wireless Emergency Alert with evacuation orders.
- Don’t leave bulky items at your curb. Wait for the storm to subside; then schedule a pick with the Bureau of Sanitation.
- Never touch a downed power line. Call 9-1-1 to report it.
- If a storm drain is clogged or not functioning properly, report it to the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation at 800-773-2489.
- Look for tilted trees, telephone poles, fences, and new bare spots on hillsides.
Report the following to Facilities Management:
- Active leaks within a building
- Wet floors within a building
- Stained ceiling tiles
- Visible water in light fixtures
- Bubbling paint on walls or ceiling
- Standing water at building entry/exit points
- Excessive standing water on roads, parking lots, or sidewalks.
Important Phone Number
- Facilities Management: 310-338-7779 (or 87779 from a campus phone)
- Department of Public Safety: 310-338-2893 (or 222 from a campus phone in an emergency)
- City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation Customer Care (24/7 during rain): 800-773-2489
- LA County Public Works Dispatch Center (for unincorporated areas and contract cities): 800-675-4357
Consider following these City and County departments on social media for updates and road closure information:
- LA Emergency Management Department @ReadyLA
- LA Bureau of Sanitation @LACitySAN
- LA Department of Water and Power @LADWP
- LA County @CountyofLA
- LA County Fire @LACoFDPIO
- LA County Department of Public Health @laPublicHealth
- LA County Department of Public Works @LAPublicWorks
- #LA Rain