IRVINE (CBSLA.com) — While the predicted El Niño system expected to arrive this winter may bring with it plenty of much-needed rain, some experts believe it may do more harm to the parched region than good.
The aftermath of the weekend’s thunderstorms, which caused mudslides and flooding throughout Southern California, have residents worried about what could result from predicted storms this winter.
In just 48 hours, heavy rain produced home and vehicle damage, closed roads, a collapsed bridge and plenty of traffic disruption. What worries residents in some problem areas is that an anticipated El Niño system later in 2015 could result in longer periods of similar weather.
UC Irvine hydrologist Amir Aghakouchak says that the predicted El Niño rains could result in excessive stress on levies, roads and hillsides that have started to dry and crack in California’s historic drought.
“We cannot stop them, but we can try to be more and more prepared,” Aghakouchak said. “Natural hill slopes are becoming more and more vulnerable.”
The weekend’s storms brought record daily and monthly rainfall totals to drought-stricken Southern California. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted a 90 percent chance of a strong El Niño system this winter.
Aghakouchak believes all that rain, however, could do more harm than good.
“If you have dry soil, dry soil cracks, and these cracks can make infrastructure more vulnerable to failure,” Aghakouchak said. “A lot of that water can be captured in our reservoirs, so that will help, but it may not be sufficient to recover from the drought, because we have had a four-year drought, and a lot of deficit.”