10 Ways to Weather El Niño


With California battling its fourth year of severe drought, it’s no wonder the prospect of an El Niño rainy season gets us excited. If current predictions are correct, LA could get more than 30 inches of rain in the next 12 months! Unfortunately, all of that rainfall will likely bring flooding and mudslides, as well as power outages and dangerous driving conditions.

Here are 10 ways you can get ready for the rain:

  1. Review your emergency preparedness kit. Your earthquake preparedness kit should have everything you’d need during a flood. Be sure everything is stocked and functioning, including flashlights, extra batteries, a hand-crank radio, food, drinking water and a first-aid kit.
  2. Check your car. Make sure that your tires have good tread to grip wet roads and that your windshield wipers work well. Whenever driving in the rain, turn on your headlights, avoid plowing through flooded areas and never drive around any road barriers.
  3. Unclog drains and gutters. Clogged gutters can lead to serious flooding in your home. Take the time to go through your gutters and clean out any leaves, dirt or debris. It’s also a good idea to check for structural leaks in your gutters, so they can do their job efficiently during rainstorms.
  4. Secure your bins. Empty trash, recycling and compost bins can become dangerous torpedoes during storms, causing damage and blocking storm drains. Keep lids closed and place bins in a safe, preferably covered, area to prevent them from blowing or floating away. Also take the time to secure any fallen palm fronds, tarps or loose items.
  5. Prevent stormwater pollution. Rain washes everything on our streets and yards into the storm drains. Cover household hazardous waste with tight-fitting lids and store indoors. Make it a priority to pick up pet waste, litter and hazardous waste in your neighborhood.
  6. Consider rainwater capture. Rainwater is a resource! Plant a rain garden to control flooding and allow water to seep back into the ground. Or install rainbarrels to capture every drop. The Metropolitan Water District in partnership with LA Department of Water and Power offers rebates on up to four rainbarrels! On occasion, Keep LA Beautiful conducts a free rain barrel giveaway. Keep an eye on their website for details on the next event.
  7. Stay safe and be informed. During storms, avoid waterways like the LA River, flood channels and the ocean, which can swell and become treacherous. To stay up-to-date with storm-related emergency information and service interruptions, sign up with Notify LA. The City will use this emergency notification system to send you updates via your preferred method—text, email or voice message. In addition, you can find information on LA Sanitation’s wet weather webpage and Mayor Garcetti’s El Niño page.
  8. Keep conserving. You may feel waterlogged, but El Niño isn’t likely to bring enough rain—or much-needed snowpack in Northern California—to end our four-year drought. Continue to turn off all sprinklers during the rain and conserve water. During storms, reduce your water consumption even more to decrease flow into LA’s four water reclamation plants.
  9. Prep sandbags. Before the water rises, prepare sandbags to protect your home from flood waters. The Los Angeles Fire Department has free ready-to-fill sandbags. A handful also have sand, so call ahead to find out and bring a shovel!
  10. Alert us. Please report clogged storm drains and flooding to LA Sanitation’s hotline at +1 800-773-2489. During storms, emergency crews will staff the hotline 24 hours a day. You can also contribute to the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #wetweatherprepLA.

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