First El Niño storm brings rain, snow

Claremonters braved the first official onslaught of El Niño, when the highly anticipated downpours began to arrive on Monday, January 4.

Cars crept carefully along Claremont roads, while pedestrians scuttled through the rain in an attempt to avoid the wet weather.

Sam Wheeler was crossing Indian Hill and Second Street, ready for El Niño in a yellow raincoat, rain boots and a hat to go with his umbrella.

The Upland resident and utility worker said he was happy about the rain coming down in Claremont, but added, “It’s sad we have to get it all at one time.”

The storms led to the closure of the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park on Tuesday, January 5. The park is set to reopen to normal winter hours on Monday, January 11.

For months, meteorologists and other experts have claimed this El Niño as the strongest storm swell since the infamous 1997 system. During the October 27 city council meeting, Assistant to the City Manager Brad McKinney gave a presentation on how to properly deal with the anticipated storm, including inspecting trees and buildings and clearing out storm drains.

Bonnie Bartling of the National Weather Service’s Oxnard station, which oversees Los Angeles County, said the Claremont area is not completely out of the woods yet for the coming week.

“Another system is possible Saturday, a little clearing on Sunday and maybe something else on Monday,” Ms. Bartling said.

Ms. Bartling added that the total rainfall in Claremont from Sunday, January 3 to Thursday, January 6 was 3.16 inches, with 1.31 inches falling on Tuesday, January 5.

With wet weather comes the seemingly inevitable increase in car accidents, but Lt. Lori Davenport of the Claremont Police Department said the city has remained largely accident-free.

“We’ve been extremely lucky,” she said.

A cause for concern in Claremont is the possibility of falling tree leaves and other debris causing flooding. Public Works Inspector Ralph Rodriguez spent Tuesday driving around town to spots where he knows water can collect, such as storm drains on Baseline and Mills and Mt. Baldy Road near Padua Hills.

“It’s the first rain so there’s a lot of debris to be cleared out [of drainage pipes],” Mr. Rodriguez said.

He added that a lot of mulch put down in yards and city-owned properties across town to combat the drought might become a factor in clogged storm drains.

“After a good day of rain, it starts soaking in, and the second storm is where you have that runoff, ” Mr. Rodriguez said.

Mr. Wheeler concurred, saying the falling leaves from the countless trees in Claremont might lead to more flooding and more frustrations.

But he was still happy with the storm, especially after such a long dryspell.

“We need the rain,” he said.

Residents can pick up sandbags at one of three LA County fire stations in the city—Fire Station 101 on 606 W. Bonita Ave., Fire Station 102 on 2040 N. Sumner Ave. and Fire Station 62 on 3701 N. Mills Ave.

The Claremont weather will have a good chance of light rain late Saturday, into Sunday. High temperatures will be in the 50s, with lows in the upper 30s. There will be a warm-up and partly cloudy weather for most of next week.

—Matthew Bramlett


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