El Niño bringing floods, mudslides to Southern California

By Andrew V. Pestano  |  Jan. 6, 2016 at 12:39 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Threatening storms fueled by a powerful El Niño weather pattern are creating floods and mudslides in Southern California.

The National Weather Service on Wednesday morning said Los Angeles could see 2.82 inches of rain, Long Beach could receive more than three inches of rain and Pasadena could get 3.75 inches of rain by Thursday.

California has experienced three storms so far this week and the latest is expected to move slowly and powerfully, the Los Angeles Times reports. NWS issued a flash-flood watch for California.

Storms are expected to continue on Wednesday and Thursday. Experts warn more storms are due in the region as the weather pattern continues.

El Niño storms, frequent on the West Coast , are created when Pacific winds change course and lead to a temporary warming of the ocean, which is followed by weather patterns. El Niño patterns typically peak early and late in any given year and occur about once every two to seven years.

In December, NASA warned that the current El Niño system could rival the strongest one ever recorded, in 1997, when an estimated 23,000 people died in storm-related incidents around the Pacific in the Americas.

On Monday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said this El Niño has tied the season from 1997-98 as the most powerful on record based on surface water temperature over a three-month period near the equator.

Meanwhile Wednesday, a 4.5-magnitude earthquake struck Southern California, about two miles north of Banning. There were no reports of damage or injuries.

Doug G. Ware contributed to this report.

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