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Climate Talks and More Highlight El Nino Week In Santa Monica

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Hector Gonzalez
Special to The Lookout

October 9, 2015 -- El Niño will peak by late fall or early winter, forecasters predicted Thursday, as Santa Monica's nonprofit Heal the Bay announced a series of free events next week aimed at getting residents prepared.

“It's El Niño week,” Heal the Bay spokesman Matthew King announced in an email. “We will be hosting a number of lectures, demos, volunteer events, social media contests, blog posts about the expected storms, how to prepare and what they mean for our region.”

Talks and events coming next week, starting Tuesday, October 13 and continuing through Saturday, October 17, include a free lecture by a leading JPL climate scientist, demonstrations, clean-up projects and more, said King.

“Some of Santa Monica's leading restaurants are designing specialty El Niño cocktails for the week, with $1 for every drink going to our work to protect local shorelines
during the expected deluge,” he said.

King said early indications show a “major set of storms could be hitting Greater Los Angeles this fall and winter.”

“That likely means lots of rain, which is great for augmenting our severely depleted local water supplies. But the expected deluge also posses a lot of challenges for our local beaches, municipalities  and residences.”

On Thursday, a National Climate Data Center's blog post said “we're closing in” on the peak of El Niño, now expected by forecasters to occur in the late fall or early winter.

“This El Niño continues to rank among the strongest in our records, which start in 1950,” forecasters said Thursday.

From July to September 3, the average sea surface temperature was 1.5 degree centigrade above normal, which is second behind the El Niño of 1987 and third behind the monster El Niño of 1997-98. The atmospheric response to the warmer sea temperatures is second only to the 1997-98 event, forecasters said.

Officials are now watching to see if winds weaken to the point where they reverse and blow west to east during October and November, setting up near-identical conditions to the 97-98 El Niño, officials said.

Santa Monica Office of Emergency Management (OEM) officials started discussing El Niño preparations over the summer. Although the City has no natural flood plains to worry about, said OEM chief Lt. Robert Almada, Heal the Bay's King said coastal zones could face erosion and storm water runoff issues from El Niño storms.

To help residents prepare, Heal the Bay's El Niño events next week will include “Whiplash: From Super Drought to El Niño,” a public lecture by leading JPL climatologist Bill Patzert, on Tuesday, October 13, at Heal the Bay's Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Melanie Winter, founder and director of the River Project, and a longtime water and land-use activist, will present “Capture, Conserve, Reuse: A Conversation with Water LA,” on Sunday, October 11, at the aquarium, from 2:30-3:30 p.m.

Also on hand that day will be green manufacturer RainReserve, which will provide free  demonstrations and information about how to install rain tanks in your home.

“Nothing But Sand,” a community beach cleanup day, will be held Saturday, October 17, at Venice Beach, from 10 a.m. to noon.

More than 500 volunteers are expected. Heal the Bay will provide information on El Niño readiness.

“We will also be recruiting members for our elite Storm Response Team, which is mobilized through social media to respond quickly to heavily trash-impacted beaches following major rains,” King said.

Throughout El Niño week, Cassia, Hotel Casa Del Mar, The Lobster and Locanda del Lago will be concocting special ocean- and El Niño-themed cocktails. Also, Rusty's Surf Ranch, will offer special promotions for the week, with a portion of sales going to support Heal the Bay.

Check the organization's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles for updates on free giveways during the week, Heal the Bay officials said.

“El Niño Week promises to have more bite than 'Shark Week,'” said King.

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