Rain and Snow In New Year’s Forecast

December 30, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

LOS ANGELES  – A storm bringing the Southland rain today will be followed by one expected to trigger snowfall at low elevations, creating dangerous driving conditions on New Year’s Eve in the San Gabriel Mountains and on the road to Las Vegas, National Weather Service forecasters said.

The low-pressure system Friday is expected to produce 0.7 inches of rain and have little impact in the mountains, where the snow level will remain at around 7,000 feet, according to an NWS

Forecasters are not expecting “copious amounts of rain” out of the two storm systems but there could be some mud flows down slopes stripped by wildfires if thunderstorms develop, which is possible Friday and again Saturday, said NWS meteorologist Curt Kaplan.

The second system will be colder and again will trigger showers but have much greater impact in the San Gabriels, where, starting Saturday afternoon,it will spark snow showers at between 3,500 and 4,000 feet across mountain roads and passes, including the Interstate 5 Corridor between Gorman and The Grapevine, creating “dangerous driving conditions,” the NWS said.

A winter weather advisory will be in effect in the San Gabriels from 8 a.m. Saturday until midnight. East winds of between 15 and 25 miles per hour gusting to 35 mph are in the forecast, but no wind advisories were immediately issued.

Between 3 and 6 inches of snow are expected above 6,000 feet, with up to 8 inches possible above 7,000 feet in the eastern San Gabriels, according to the NWS.

Snow and icy conditions are also expected on Interstate 15 through the Cajon Pass and mountain passes near the Nevada border Saturday, risking “hazardous wintry driving conditions.”

“Motorists should be prepared for hazardous driving conditions due to snow and ice-covered roads,” warned an NWS statement. “Check the latest road reports before departing. Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle which includes a flashlight, food and water, extra clothes and blankets, and tire chains.

The NWS forecast showers in L.A. County Friday and highs of 53 degrees Fahrenheit in Palmdale; 55 in Lancaster; 58 on Mount Wilson; 60 in Saugus; 63 in Burbank; 64 in Avalon, Pasadena and San Gabriel; 65 at LAX, Long Beach and in Woodland Hills; and 66 in downtown L.A. Saturday’s highs, again amid showers, will be between 8 and 10 degrees lower. the high 50s in many communities.

Sunday – New Year’s Day – is forecast to be partly cloudy, with highs in the high 50s and low 60s. Similar weather will last at least through next Thursday, according to an NWS forecast.

Grand Jury: Plans for Homeless ‘Grossly Inadequate’

January 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

City and county agencies need to do more to help the thousands of people in the Los Angeles area who lack shelter during this winter’s El Nino storms, the county’s civil grand jury concluded in a report released Wednesday.

The panel’s report says plans submitted last fall by the area’s largest cities, including Los Angeles, are “unconscionable and grossly inadequate” in sheltering those who are forced to live on the streets.
The grand jury is “very concerned that the 2,772 shelter and surge capacity beds planned by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority is just a fraction of the number necessary to shelter homeless people in severe weather,” the report states.

The panel recommended that the county and its 88 cities relax building and health codes to make more facilities available to shelter people who are homeless. It also suggested that funds be made available for supplies and equipment that give “minimal sheltering for homeless people who cannot be accommodated in shelters so that they might survive the rainstorms to come.”

The grand jury sent out surveys asking cities to detail their El Nino preparation plans, with Los Angeles responding that the city has 25,686 people who are homeless, 17,687 of whom are without shelter. There were 2,239 beds available in the city at the time of the survey, which needed to be submitted in November, according to the report.

Other cities were also surveyed, including Lancaster, Long Beach, Burbank, West Covina and Pasadena.
The greater Los Angeles area has an estimated 44,000 homeless people.

Vicki Curry, spokeswoman for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, said the report “underscores” the mayor’s own concerns and he will “take its recommendations into consideration as the city continues to address the needs of our homeless residents during these harsh winter months.”

The city recently increased the number of shelter beds by 50 percent and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has create a map of homeless encampments that can be used during the storms, Curry said.

City and county officials said Wednesday they are focused on doing outreach to encourage people living on the streets — whether in cars, makeshift structures or tents — to use additional shelters that were made available in anticipation of the heavy rains.

County officials said there are 2,000 winter shelters, plus another 1,131 beds at seven additional shelters.

Despite the outreach efforts, the majority of the added beds are still available, according to county officials.

If there is a need to accommodate more people, more city and county buildings, such as recreation and parks facilities, can be converted into shelters, officials said.

Prepared for these Wet Winter Days?

January 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The City and County of Los Angeles are working diligently to inform the community about the preparations that can be taken during these stormy days.

Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is informing the L.A.’s homeless population of the pending inclement weather, in an effort to keep them safe and dry.

Each geographical division of the LAPD has identified homeless encampments that are in areas subject to flooding, according to a press release sent to the media.

“Officers are out on foot, advising the homeless of the possible flood danger, as well as passing out flyers with locations of available shelters and property storage options,” stated LAPD.


Heavy rain flooded streets in Lincoln Heights Tuesday, causing some traffic incidents. (Photo by Nancy Martinez)

Heavy rain flooded streets in Lincoln Heights Tuesday, causing some traffic incidents. (Photo by Nancy Martinez)


Signs are posted, warning that heavy rain can cause floodwaters to rise, and public address systems are being utilized to ensure everyone hears the important information.

LAPD informed that if the Los Angeles Fire Department determines there is a predicted or anticipated rainfall within 24 hours, a Rain Notification Tracking Form must be completed, signed by a Watch Commander and forwarded to LAPD’s Real-Time Analysis & Critical Response Division. That form includes the date, time, location and method used for all notifications.

LAFD is Providing Sandbags

The Los Angeles area is periodically subject to floods that result in property damage. The potential for mudslides and debris flow is greatly increased near recent wildfires. Los Angeles residents—especially those in foothill and low-lying communities, are encouraged to prepare their properties in advance of coming rainstorms.

In an effort to help, the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) works closely with the Department of General Services and has ordered more than 200,000 ready-to-fill sandbags, made available at all Neighborhood Fire Stations (Please note that residents are welcomed to no more than 25 bags).

LAFD also works very closely with the Bureau of Street Services and has ordered more than 250 tons of sand made available at several fire stations and convenient community locations.

These are some of the locations where residents can pick up their sand bags:

  • Fire Station 44 (Cypress Park), 1410 Cypress Ave., (213) 485-6244
  • Fire Station 42 (Eagle Rock), 2035 Colorado Blvd., (323) 254-5195
  • Fire Station 2 (Boyle Heights), CD 14 Office, 2130 E. 1st St., (323) 526-9332 .
  • Fire Station 42 (Eagle Rock), CD 14 Office, 2035 Colorado Blvd., (323) 254-5195
  • Fire Station 44 (Cypress Park), 1410 Cypress Ave, (213) 485-6244
  • Fire Station 47 (El Sereno), 4575 Huntington Dr South, (213) 485-6247

It is quite normal for potholes to form during heavy rain seasons. To report any new or existing potholes call 3-1-1.

More El Niño preparedness and emergency information can be obtained at the following websites:

LAFD sand bags pick up: http://www.lafd.org/news/lafd-provides-sandbags-homeowners-1

The City of Los Angeles Emergency Management Department

Breaking El Niño emergency information

El Niño preparedness information website: http://www.elninola.com

Preparing for El Niño Power

December 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

When El Niño weather conditions hit Southern California during the 1980s and 90s, freeways were jammed, neighborhoods flooded, power lines toppled and homes were damaged by the deluge of rain pounding the Southland for days without end.
Now, with the strong probability of an El Niño repeat performance this winter, federal, state and local officials are preparing for the “worst case scenario.”
On Wednesday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 9 office released a Severe El Niño Disaster Response Plan for California, Arizona and Nevada. The agency also announced creation of a task force to identify issues, gaps and shortfalls to enhance the plan.

Lea este artículo en Español: Preparándose para la Fuerte Tormenta de El Niño

FEMA’s release states that one in five Californians lives in an area at risk of flooding. “All 58 counties in California have experienced at least one major flood event in the last 20 years.”
“Utilizing a ‘whole community’ approach to emergency management reinforces the fact that FEMA is only one part of our nation’s emergency management teams,” said Bob Fenton, FEMA Region 9 Administrator. “The exercise gives us an opportunity to learn from each other, and from experts in the areas where solutions will come from.”
As the federal agency is preparing for increased rainfall, heavy snow and high tides caused by unusually warm temperatures near the equator, local municipalities are also making preparations of their own for the strong El Niño weather expected to hit in the coming months.


The Los Angeles River may not be as empty in the coming months as scientists predict California and other states will be impacted by El Niño weather. (Photo by Fred Zermeno)

The Los Angeles River may not be as empty in the coming months as scientists predict California and other states will be impacted by El Niño weather. (Photo by Fred Zermeno)

Bell Gardens
The relatively flat city of Bell Gardens does not have to worry about landslides however the possibility of flooding has city officials concerned.
Like in most cities in Los Angeles County residents can pick up sandbags at the city yard and at the local Los Angeles County Fire department.
One area the city will be vigilant in particular is the lake at Ford Park. Though Public Works Director Chau L. Vu says the city has not had any issues with flooding at the location the department plans to continue staffing personnel to monitor the lake and other areas of concern following a storm.
“We canvass and patrol neighborhoods after rain to check on trees and branches that may have been taken down by the wind,” Vu explained.
Vu says Bell Gardens has been proactive year-round and kept up with the maintenance of storm water drains. The ongoing attention has paid off, as there has not been a sewer break in recent years.
Vu told EGP she is surprised that her office has not received calls from residents or business concerned with the possible winter storm.
“I think people may be skeptical about El Niño,” she said.
But according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Weather Administration there is a 95 percent chance California will experience El Niño weather conditions this winter.
Vu plans to send out a list to residents with tips on what homeowners can do to reduce the chance of flooding including clearing out gutters.
“We plan on beefing up our patrolling during this wet weather.”

The city of Vernon’s Fire, Public Health and Public Works department also sent out its own list of storm recommendations to the city’s 1,800 business and all residential households. The mailer was accompanied by the county’s brochure on El Niño.
Vernon’s Public Works Director Kevin Wilson told EGP the city has good drainage on its streets and the Department has been consistently cleaning its entire inventory of city-owned and county-owned catch basins to reduce the potential of flooding during torrential rain events, he added.
“We typically only have some minor localized flooding during major rainfall events,” he said.
The almost exclusively industrial city wants its unique businesses community to be prepared. For businesses that may need an extra level of protection to their property in the event of rising water during winter rainstorms the city is providing sand and bags needed to make sandbags at the city’s fire stations and public works yards.
One of many things businesses must do is make sure they clean their roof sappers, emphasized Wilson.
If they don’t have their drainers cleaned that can lead to their roof collapsing which bring down sprinklers and ruins inventory, he explained.
“We need to be vigilant of that because that is always our number one problem,” said Wilson.
The close proximity to the Los Angeles River is something that Vernon must also consider.
Although Vernon Fire Chief Michael Wilson says the river has never overflowed the department has trained extensively every winter on swift water rescue.
The group of firefighters that compromise Vernon’s Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) squad is rated Type 1 Heavy Rescue, the highest certification awarded for USAR by the State of California Emergency Management Agency (CAL EMA). USAR is a multi hazard disciple utilized for a variety of emergencies or disasters including earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, terrorist activities and hazardous material releases.
The squad has seen all kinds of strange things come down the river that starts in Glendale including trucks, dogs and people, he added.
But the Fire Chief tells EGP he has yet to see the river overflow in the last 28 year he’s been with the city.
He also points out that the river is also crucial to getting the excess water out of the city.
“During the 97 El Niño it got high but never got over the bridge, it was definitely running extremely fast.”

El Niño is expected to bring heavy levels of snow to Southern California Mountains (EGP Photo by Fred Zermeno)

El Niño is expected to bring heavy levels of snow to Southern California Mountains (EGP Photo by Fred Zermeno)

Torrential rains have in the past caused flooding in Commerce, causing traffic nightmares for commuters near some of the region’s busiest freeways, the 5 and the 710, and along railway overpasses.
Over the last few weeks, the city has been holding meetings to address potential trouble spots before the rain begins.
Sump pump stations have been installed in four major areas prone to flooding: Garfield Avenue and Ferguson Street; Washington Boulevard and I-5 freeway; Atlantic Boulevard and Sheila Street; and Eastern Avenue and South of Commerce Way.
“The sump pumps collect the water and then send it away to the storm drain,” explained Matthew Rodriguez, director of safety and community services.
“We ordered 48 additional barricades and 18 ‘flooded’ signs” to be placed in flood areas once they are targeted, he added.
Rodriguez said the city’s public works department has already inspected the roofs of all city-owned buildings to make sure they can withstand the heavy rains and found the Bristow Park center and library to be in need of immediate repair.
Public works Director Maryam Babaki told EGP completely replacing the roof will cost half a million dollars, noting that funding has not yet been committed. In the meantime, she said, the most damaged areas will be patched to get the facility through the rainy season and until funding can be secured.
According to Rodriguez, Commerce will refer the estimated 60 homeless people in the city to the Salvation Army’s 70-bed shelter in nearby Bell or connect them with the People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) agency in Los Angeles.
The city has also urged residents to clean rain gutters and drains to avoid roof collapses and flooding. Other precautions include the distribution of as many as 5,000 sandbags, 10 per address by January.
There were 1,000 sandbags given out last week alone, according to Ernie Fierro, assistant emergency preparedness officer at Commerce’s Lucille Roybal-Allard Emergency Operations Center. Additional distributions will take place Dec. 14, 16 and 19.
The City has also made the County’s emergency preparedness pamphlets available at all public counters and council chambers, according to Rodriguez.
The pamphlets include important information on what to do in an emergency, putting together an emergency kit and where to get help.
Commerce’s state-of-the-art Emergency Operations Center, opened in October 2014, is expected to play a vital role in the regional response to any El Nino related disasters.
The “state of the art” facility is equipped with an auxiliary power source, a back-up generator, additional needed space to execute EOC operations and functions.
Residents and stakeholders are also being encouraged to register with Blackboard Connect to receive free emergency alerts via cell phone. During emergencies, the City will send important messages, in English and Spanish, to registered phone numbers. People can register by calling the Public Safety and Community Services Department at (323) 887-4460.

Saying the city does not want to alarm residents, Montebello Public Works Director Danilo Batson told EGP at this point the city has no plans to conduct El Niño-specific meetings or send out emergency information to city residents.
In contrast to neighboring cities, Montebello’s website has no El Niño emergency information or safety tips.
“It’s not that we’re not concerned,” emphasized Batson, pointing out that projections for El Niño show the heaviest rains coming in late winter. “The County is already providing a lot of information and we don’t want to duplicate it,” he said, adding that the county’s emergency information is available at City Hall.
“We don’t want to alarm residents,” he cautioned.
“The only questions we get are about sandbags,” Batson explained.
The city is distributing sandbags twice a day, Monday through Thursday, at the city yard located at 311 S. Greenwood Ave. Distributions are between 12-12:30 p.m. and 2-2:30 p.m.
According to Batson, there has been a big turnout, especially on days when there is threat of rain.
Some streets in the industrial sections of South Montebello are more prone to flooding, according to the public works director. In anticipation of heavy rains, the department has contacted county officials to urge them to quickly deal with backed up drains, like those on Olympic Boulevard that caused flooding during the last heavy rainstorm.
Concerns about potential landslides in the fire damaged Montebello Hills has also been addressed, Batson said.
He told EGP that the developer of the privately-owned property, Cook Hill Properties, has power-sprayed the burnt hillside with seeds in an attempt to grow some vegetation on the land ahead of coming rains.
An El Niño related presentation may be held sometime next year, according to Baston, but nothing official has been planned.

Next week EGP looks at El Niño  preparedness  in the city of Los Angeles and tips on how to prepare for a severe storm.


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