City Braces for Storm Making Its Way Down California Coast

In response to a weather system—considered to be the worst California has seen in years—slowly making its way down from the Bay Area, City officials are urging residents in Long Beach to prepare for wet weather and possible flooding.

With the storm expected to bring heavy precipitation to the Southland, a multi-department response has been initiated by Long Beach officials. City crews have been clearing catch basins, installing plugs in the Naples sea wall to help prevent flooding and even dispatching Swiftwater rescue teams and putting equipment in place in the event someone becomes stranded in the water and requires rescuing.

Reggie Harrison, the director of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Communications for the city noted that the Long Beach Police and Fire Departments, Parks and Recreation and other agencies have put together a concerted effort to help offset any potential issues brought about by the rainfall and high wind gusts from this storm system.

The type of weather system producing the heavy rainfall has been reported as an atmospheric river, which on the West Coast is better known as a Pineapple Express. An atmospheric river acts almost like a conveyor belt for moisture, dragging it in from thousands of miles out to sea and bringing it to land. Slow moving systems like this can dump huge amounts of rain on an area, and have been known to last up to several weeks. Accuweather Senior Meteorologist Tome Kines said while this isn’t a classical Pineapple Express occurrence, it doesn’t diminish the amount of rainfall that can be expected to be produced by it.

“You usually trace the origin of that rain all the way back to Hawaii,” Kines said. “That’s not the case with this system. Having said that, this is a pretty potent system and it does contain a lot of moisture. But this one isn’t a true Pineapple connection.”

The system, which is currently pounding the northern part of the state with strong winds and up to 7 inches of rain being reported in some areas is expected to drop about one to two inches of rain in Long Beach over a 24 hour period starting around 8PM.

“You’ll get a decent amount of rain in the Long Beach area, not to the extent that they’re receiving farther North,” Kines said. “I know North of the Bay Area the past 24 hours they’ve had anywhere between 4 and 7 inches of rain. There’s no doubt there’ll be enough rain to cause some flooding issues.”

Due to the threat of potential floods, bins of sand and empty sand bags, which are available at all neighborhood fire stations, are being offered to residents and will be available at three separate locations throughout the city. However, the city is reminding residents that they must provide their own shovels and will be limited to 10 bags of sand.

“It’s difficult to tell how the rain might fall and we’ve done a lot of work with the public works department to shore up a lot of those areas that we’ve had issues in the past,” Harrison said. “We don’t have a lot of those issues now, but still, the infrastructure has aged so when we get a significant accumulation of rainfall, that’s what usually causes the backups to occur.”

While ocean swells of 10-15 feet are expected to hit the area, the large sets of waves that are hitting the central and northern coasts of California aren’t expected to make their way to Long Beach due to the orientation of the city’s coastline in relation to the storm.

The good news is that for a drought-parched state like California, the rain being delivered is badly needed. Kines said that the current storm system is one that has the potential to draw in other systems over the next week and could bring more wet weather to Long Beach as the Christmas holiday draws nearer.

“The weather patten that we’re in is very supportive of multiple weather systems affecting the area,” Kines said. “We’ll probably see another couple of systems early next week that will bring some rain and I’m sure there’ll be another one after that later during the week.”

Residents can go to one of these three locations if they wish to fill bags of sand in advance of the storm:      

         Public Works San Francisco Yard, 1651 San Francisco Ave., (enter off Esther Street)
         Fire Station 14, 5200 Eliot Ave.
         Fire Station 12, 1199 E. Artesia Blvd.

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