Ventura County prepares for a strong winter storm season

VENTURA, Calif. – All indications are the county is in for a strong winter storm season, so federal, state, county and local officials are working on plans and preparations. An Operational Area coordination briefing was held by the Sheriff's Office of Emergency Services on October 28, 2015 with more than 75 people in attendance.

The meeting included representatives from law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services, public works, the National Weather Service, the Red Cross, animal services, the military, and county and local government. Each was there learn more about the weather outlook, resource availability, public information and evacuation coordination.

Eric Boldt from the National Weather Service in Oxnard said that all weather-forecasting models are indicating a strong El Niño event this winter. He went on to explain that El Niño is not a storm, it is a warming condition in the ocean that shifts the storm track south, bringing Southern California more storms. It is also unlikely that one El Niño winter will end the drought.

"El Niño tilts the odds for above normal precipitation," he said. "And the strength of this El Niño favors a strong event."

El Niño conditions bring about a number of potential winter impacts. The storms themselves may have multiple impacts, including strong winds, rain and snow. There could also be large surf and coastal erosion. Flooding typically becomes a concern when the area is hit with two or three storms in a row and the ground reaches its saturation point. Debris flows are possible in many areas during heavy downpours, but especially in recent burn areas.

The message to the public from all of this is to be prepared. First responders and other agencies in the county are making preparations now. The public should as well. To help, the Sheriff's Office of Emergency Services has a comprehensive website for El Niño preparation: http://readyventuracounty.org/elnino

The rainy season in Ventura County is typically January through March. But the storms could start earlier or stay longer, so the time to prepare is now.

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