Malibu is bracing for El Niño

Residents of Malibu are being urged to prepare for the potential impacts of El Niño this winter.

El Niño is the temporary warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator, which experts say is occurring now and is likely to produce above-average rainfall in Southern California.

When the ocean water rises 1.5 degrees Celsius above normal, that’s considered a strong El Niño.

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“It does appear as though this 2023 is going to come pretty close to that if not exceed that,” Ben Reppert, a meteorology professor at Penn State University, recently told KTLA.

In the past, these conditions have produced periods of heavy rainfall that trigger mudslides, flooding and debris flow, both along the coast and inland.

El Niño
El Niño

There is a 95% chance that El Niño conditions will continue through the 2023-24 winter, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In Malibu, above-average high tides are also a concern, officials said.

“Malibu is vulnerable to the potential impacts that a strong El Niño could bring this winter,” said Malibu Mayor Steve Uhring in a bulletin Tuesday. “The good news is, there is a lot that homeowners can do to be prepared and to reduce the impacts to their homes and properties.”

Southern California Weather Coverage

The city is urging residents to inspect sloped areas for signs of erosion, cracks and slumping, and also keep a close eye on landscaping features like retaining walls and patios.

“If signs of slope movement are observed, consider contacting a California-licensed geologist or geotechnical engineer for a site inspection,” city officials said.

Malibu, California
Malibu, California

Other tips include:

  • Consider covering or vegetating bare areas before storm season.

  • Visually inspect and remove debris from retaining wall drains, surface drains, culverts, and gutters before storm season.

  • Visually inspect roofs, or hire a roofing contractor, to check for loose tiles, holes or other signs of distress.

Free sandbags are available at several Los Angeles County Fire stations.

  • Fire Station #70: 3970 Carbon Canyon Road. 310-456-2513

  • Fire Station #71: 28722 W. Pacific Coast Highway. 310-457-2578

  • Fire Station #88: 23720 W. Malibu Road. 310-456-2812

  • Fire Station #99: 32550 Pacific Coast Highway. 310-457-3706

The city reminds residents that it is illegal to remove sand from beaches in Los Angeles County. Call Fire Stations for availability or visit https://dpw.lacounty.gov/dsg/sandbags.

Those with questions about slope stability, flooding, mudflows, or erosion, contact Malibu’s geology staff during public counter hours (Monday through Thursday, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM) or email mbuilding@malibucity.org.

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