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Hey California, love the weather? There's a nasty surprise coming for Californians

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By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
1/20/2016 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (

El Nino is just getting started in California.

Californios have been pleasantly surprised by the El Nino rains this year. The rain hasn't been overwhelming, and temperatures have been mild.  Windows can often be left open all night in many places. There's plenty of snow on the slopes, so skiing is on. It's a wonderful winter -so far. According to forecasters however, it's just getting started.

A luxury home collapses in California in March, 1998.

A luxury home collapses in California in March, 1998.


By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
Catholic Online (
1/20/2016 (3 years ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: El Nino, California, storm, rain, flooding, mudslides, danger

LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - El Nino is winding down in some places, but it's just getting started elsewhere. One place where it's about to ramp up is in the United States. California, in particular, is about to feel its wrath.

El Nino, which is the warming of waters in the Equatorial Pacific, impacts weather around the globe. Some places experience drought, but others get more rain. The southern tier of the United States is one such area. California, in particular sees dramatic rainfall because of its place on the Pacific Coast.

Californians have been quite happy with El Nino. After four years of drought, the rain is welcome. Ski slopes are open and reservoirs are filling up. Flooding has been a local phenomenon, and it hasn't done much damage. Most people have been spared, so those with short memories think of El Nino quite favorably. What's not to love?

But January is when El Nino's effects begin to appear in California, and they can persist until April when El Nino finally subsides.

The scenario is simple. Chains of storms form across the Pacific, sometimes extending back to Asia. They train across the southern United States, crashing into Southern California first. The state will be soaked, not all at once, but in waves. The first couple storms may drop considerable rain, but this is well handled by flood control systems. It's after a few storms have hit that the ground becomes waterlogged and flooding gets out of control.

For some areas, the flooding can become catastrophic. After the rain stops, mudslides can occur. Cliffside houses can lose their foundations. Rock slides block the freeways and highways like the iconic highway 1, which flows the California coast. Along the central California coast, the 1 is the only way locals connect to the outside world. Fortunately, that stretch is sparsely populated.

Nonetheless, the destructive effects of El Nino have not yet been felt because they typically don't appear until January. The state has been hit by trains of storms, but so far, their effects have been mild. These storms are expected to intensify.

The current El Nino may be the strongest one on record, and although it is now expected to decrease, it shows no signs of doing so yet. According to NOAA forecasters, the 1997 El Nino, the strongest one on record to date, peaked in November. The current El Nino may not have even peaked yet.

Around the world, the effects have already been catastrophic. Drought has gripped Southeast Asia, and combined with massive fires that have choked cities in smoke. The rain that has missed Southeast Asia, may eventually fall in the United States.

Make no mistake, in California, El Nino is just getting started and "fun" won't be used to describe the experience.


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Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

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