SCIENCE

El Niño Finally Hits California, But Worst Is Yet To Come

And no, this isn't a drought-buster.
Los Angeles was hit with the first of many El Niño storms expected to head toward California.
Los Angeles was hit with the first of many El Niño storms expected to head toward California.

That El Niño everyone's been talking about -- the big one likened to Godzilla and prayed for as a cure to California's drought? It's here. It's big. And it's already a mess.

Los Angeles was drenched on Tuesday by the first major storm of the year, which caused moderate flooding and damaged some roads. Rain is expected to continue throughout the week, and a slew of storms are set to follow, worrying officials.

The Los Angeles Times reports that at least four storms are lined up back-to-back across the Pacific, stretching from Asia to the California coast, and all are expected to bring deluges to the drought-stricken metropolis.

Climatologist Bill Patzert told the newspaper this "relentless" onslaught could be bad news as water begins to penetrate topsoil hardened by a half-decade of drought. Mudslides and flash flooding, reminiscent of the strongest on record 1997-1998 El Niño, come next.

"It's a freaking mess when it shows up," Patzert told The Huffington Post in December, shortly before this season's El Niño tied with the 1997-1998 one as the strongest ever.

Areas primed for mudslides and flooding include those damaged by California's years-long onslaught of wildfires, which now lack vegetation that usually keeps soil in place.

Take a look at some of the short-term impacts of El Niño throughout Los Angeles below.

  • Traffic in Anaheim, California, was snarled as rainfall caused delays throughout the region.
    Rick Loomis via Getty Images
    Traffic in Anaheim, California, was snarled as rainfall caused delays throughout the region.
  • A playground sits flooded in Los Angeles after the rains subsided.
    Rick Loomis via Getty Images
    A playground sits flooded in Los Angeles after the rains subsided.
  • Barriers were set up to protect homes from flash flooding in Glendora, California.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Barriers were set up to protect homes from flash flooding in Glendora, California.
  • A sign warning of flooded road is posted along the Pacific Coat Highway in Malibu, California, after a heavy rain.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A sign warning of flooded road is posted along the Pacific Coat Highway in Malibu, California, after a heavy rain.
  • Authorities warned persistent wet conditions could put some Los Angeles communities at risk of flash flooding along with mud
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Authorities warned persistent wet conditions could put some Los Angeles communities at risk of flash flooding along with mud and debris flows, especially in wildfire burn areas.
  • Office workers arrive to work in the pouring rain in downtown Los Angeles.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Office workers arrive to work in the pouring rain in downtown Los Angeles.
  • A resident used sandbags to protect a home in Glendora, California, in anticipation of flooding.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A resident used sandbags to protect a home in Glendora, California, in anticipation of flooding.
  • A kite surfer makes use to the windy conditions during the rainy weather.
    Rick Loomis via Getty Images
    A kite surfer makes use to the windy conditions during the rainy weather.

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