Is Southern California prepared for El Nino?

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ByRob Hayes via KABC logo
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Officials discuss storm preparedness at California Senate Water Resources Committee
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Officials discuss storm preparedness at California Senate Water Resources Committee on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- California appears poised to go from severe drought to torrential rains and widespread flooding with the expected arrival of El Nino this winter.

State legislators discussed what they're doing to prepare for the potential hazards of El Nino at the California Senate Water Resources Committee hearing in Van Nuys on Wednesday.

Nicknames tossed around for the upcoming El Nino included "Godzilla El Nino," "The Great Wet Hope," "The Drought Buster" and "XXL El Nino."

NASA Climatologist Bill Patzert said warming Pacific waters in 2015 will live up to the nicknames and potentially bring Southern California dangerous amounts of rain.

"Is this El Nino going to hose us this winter? Absolutely," Patzert said. "This El Nino is actually larger and more intense than the previous two El Ninos of 1982 and 1983."

Representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles County Department of Public Works and the Los Angeles City Emergency Management Department were on hand in Van Nuys to discuss if the region is ready for that much rain.

"Flooding is the costliest and deadliest natural disaster in this country year-after-year," said James Featherstone with the city emergency management department. "El Nino intensifies the risk."

That intensified risk is compounded by the fact that most Californians do not have flood insurance.

In preparation for potential flooding, the department of public works has cleared out 480 miles of flood channels, 3,000 miles of storm drains and thousands of catch basins.

"The flood control system is designed to manage a certain level of risk and we're assuring that our system is ready and capable," said Gary Hildebrand with the department of public works.

But no matter how prepared officials are, residents could still face dangerous situations due to Southern California's geography being predisposed to damaging floods.

"One in five Californians live in a flood plain and many billions of dollars in assets are exposed to flooding," explained Salomon Miranda with the California Department of Water Resources.

You can find all Eyewitness News' El Nino coverage at

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