I lived in Los Angeles through two El Ninos and don’t recall anything like what just happened on the Grapevine and in the Antelope Valley where a deluge of rain caused unprecented mudflows, trapping hundreds of cars. The intensity of the storm was due at least in part to the warming ocean off California, which creates more evaporation and humidity than usual. This is precisely what causes an El Nino.
We’re not seeing El Nino itself yet. However, if this is a precursor, then California get ready. Those who don’t live in deserts or semi-arid areas may not understand what the flooding can be like. Storms can be ferocious and waters can rise very fast indeed. “The two most common ways of dying in deserts are too little water and too much water.”
In one spot in the Antelope Valley, the storm dumped 1.81 inches of rain in 30 minutes on Thursday, in what the National Weather Service described as a 1,000-year rain event. “It’s absolutely incredible,” said Robbie Munroe, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. October storms are nothing new in the high desert. But experts say the intensity of the deluge is just the latest byproduct of the record temperatures in the Pacific Ocean.