El Niño Brings Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake To CA


Godzilla in water

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

El Niño may mean “Boy” in Spanish, but there’s nothing little about the El Niño storms that are headed toward California this winter. Weather experts are predicting this will be the biggest rainy season in years.

rain cats with umbrellas

rain umbrellas

Climatologist Bill Patzert, with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has dubbed the impending storm system Godzilla El Niño, saying its ocean signal is the most powerful recorded to date.

el nino ocean signal

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel learned that El Niño storms occur when water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean warm up around the equator, giving off heat that causes the Pacific jet stream air currents to shift. Instead of crossing over the Pacific Northwest, the jet stream moves down over California, bringing rain and storms.

el nino jet stream

While California’s four-year drought has made the rains much needed and welcome, the accompanying flooding, coastal erosion, and landslides aren’t.


laguna Beach landslides el nino

coastal erosion

Residents near the beach and in canyon areas are advised to have sandbags and plastic sheeting on hand to help safeguard their properties and should be ready to evacuate, if needed.

plastic sheeting

La Canada, CA - Homeowner Olivia Brown explains the mitigation best practice procedure of sandbagging to FEMA Disaster Assistance Employee Barbra Ellis. The area suffered severe floodind, debris flows and landslides as a result of winter storms, but this savy homeowner avoided flooding to their home due to proper planning. Adam DuBrowa/FEMA

Cities need to make sure that drains, gutters and flood control channels are primed to handle the excess water that will be racing through them.

rain pouring off room

In Orange County work crews have already started removing the built-up sediment from OC’s river channels to enable floodwaters to reach the sea.

Santa_Ana_River channel

Statewide it’s important to save as much of the rain water as possible using reservoirs, groundwater basins, bioswales, and other means.



As sailors say, it’s time to “batten down the hatches.”

getting ready for storm sign

This means repairing any leaks in your roof and checking for cracked paint or poor window seals where water can seep in.Window Seal

roof repair

Make sure your car is ready for the rains, too – with windshield wipers, lights, battery, tires and brakes all in good order. When the streets get slick and visibility is poor, you’ll need them working.

2013 Ford Flex: Flex offers the new generation of My Ford Touch(R), rear-inflatable belts, collision-avoidance technologies, rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry, first-row heated and cooled seats, power-fold mirrors and an optional new appearance package. (03/09/12)Emergency Kit

And, it’s a good idea to stock up on emergency supplies – food, water, medical, flashlights and batteries – in case you can’t go out during a storm.

When Godzilla comes to visit we need all hands on deck, ready for anything. You never know what may show up!


El Niño doesn’t just change things for people, but the natural environment, too. The non-profit Surfrider Foundation discovered this firsthand when they found a rare Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake washed upon the shore at Bolsa Chica State Beach.

Snake poster warning

Take a look at Surf’n Beach Scene Magazine’s Surfrider Page to see the new intruder on OC’s beaches.

Surf’n Beach Scene Magazine

SurfWriter Girls

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