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Climate and Environment

Your Los Angeles Storm Questions, Answered

winter storm
A big storm made its way through Southern California on Wednesday and Thursday.
(Samanta Helou Hernandez
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Southern California is getting slammed by a winter storm. We have answers to your questions on rainfall capture, flash flood warnings, seasonal meteorological trends, and more.

  • Where is this stormwater going? Some of it will get captured through spreading grounds, reservoirs and dams. As the climate crisis stretches our water resources thinner and thinner, L.A. is looking to divert even more rain for recapture. But much of it is still piped out to sea, because we don't have enough places to store the water.
  • How does L.A. prepare for massive rainfall? L.A. County Public Works oversees flood preparation for the roads, building safety, planning, waste disposal, and infrastructure in local unincorporated areas. These are some of their strategies to keep the region safe in the storm.
  • Is this weather normal? A lot can change in a week. But given how dry it’s been this past decade, it’s easy to forget that this is what an average rainy season looks like.
  • How about flash flood warnings? Watches? Keeping all the flood terminology in order can be a bear, but my colleague Caitlin Hernández has the definitions, and what you should do when the alerts are issued, broken down here
  • What’s an atmospheric river? It’s the weather phenomena hitting us right now. Like its name implies, it’s a mass of water vapor streaming across the sky, and it serves as the fuel for many major storms. The meteorological event is a normal part of West Coast weather, the same kind that triggered the 2018 Montecito mudslide. You can read more about atmospheric rivers here.
What questions do you have about the weather we're experiencing?
A massive winter storm is hitting Southern California. We're here to answer your questions.

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