El Nino arrived in Santa Monica yesterday bringing several hours of rain but sparing the city from the kind of damage experienced in other parts of the county.
Flooding was reported in sections of Los Angeles and several roadways were clogged during the first significant El Nino event of the season. Boulders fell onto the PCH in Malibu causing delays and there were reports of traffic accidents on local roads.
Rain is expected to continue through Thursday with a break Friday before another wave of storms roll in. Drivers who have yet to do so are being encouraged to prepare for traveling in wet conditions.
Santa Monica Police traffic investigator Jason Olson said local drivers should slow down during the rain and take extra precautions before heading out into rain. He encourages drivers to check their wiper blades and also refill their wiper fluid.
“Keep in mind that windshield wiper fluid has other chemicals in it that helps keep debris out of the window and can clear mud. It can help clear off the windshield when you need it,” Olson said.
He said drivers should also make sure their lights are on whenever they are using wipers.
The Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA) also recommends lights with wipers.
“The storms this week are expected to produce a lot of rain so we’re reminding motorists that wet roads and cooler weather combine to significantly increase crash risk,” said the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Community Programs and Traffic Safety manager Anita Lorz Villagrana.
“As best they can, drivers should scan the roadways, avoid road debris and look out for disabled vehicles in reduced visibility conditions. The Auto Club also recommends that motorists turn on their vehicle headlights so they can see, and be seen, by other drivers.”
Drivers should be cautious during wet weather and Olson said intersections should be treated with particular care as debris can gather in the gutters.
“It’s obviously just a hazard out there and people need to be careful, especially at intersections, when they’re turning through those gutters.”
He said it’s a good time to practice defensive driving and to be courteous to other drivers. “I’d rather wait a second and let them pass than try to be aggressive and get in an accident,” he said.
Dr. Wally Ghurabi, medical director of Nethercutt Emergency Center at UCLA Medical Center said rain actually keeps people away from the ER unless they have a dire medical emergency, but there’s an increase in the number of homeless individuals that seek shelter during rain and an uptick in vehicle accident related patients.
“The biggest, obvious thing is a lot of people stay back at home, but homeless people show up because they have nowhere else to hid from the rain and we see a considerable amount of that, particularly in Santa Monica,” he said. “Car accidents is another area. People slip and slide in the rain and end up hitting somebody and they come to the ER for that.”