Reporters have turned their cameras to the skies anxiously hoping to catch the first fall raindrops. Meanwhile, people in Seattle are just laughing. Come on, it's just rain they say. Get over it. End of the world or much needed relief? This year the answer isn't so easy.
Rain may ( we emphasize may ) hit Los Angeles as early as Tuesday according to some forecasters. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting this year's El Niño is expected to get stronger than first predicted and last through winter. That's good news for parched reservoirs, lakes and streams.
2009 is the third year of drought in California. Below average precipitation, low snowpack, and lower than normal runoffs have been recorded since the fall of 2006. Municipalities have been struggling to conserve water and many have imposed strict restrictions.
While we need the rain, scientists have growing concerns too much of it will create devastating mud flows. Following the Station Fire, soil, rocks, branches, and other loose debris from the barren Angeles National Forest could be washed far into foothill communities. Some areas have an 80% likelihood of flows, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
In one scenario, if there was 12 hours of mild, sustained rain, mud flows could stream downhill into neighborhoods as far south as Foothill Boulevard in such communities as La Cañada Flintridge and La Crescenta.
"We are very seriously worried," La Cañada Flintridge Mayor Laura Olhasso told the LA Times. "It's highly possible that some of the homes that were saved from fire will be lost to mud."
Forecasters think LA may see the first hints of rain by Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning. Northern California is expected to get the bulk of precipitation. Seattle is just rolling its eyes.