Malibu Surfside News

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Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Sunshine Returns to Malibu As Aberrational La Niña Holds Sway

• Meteorologists Seem to Agree that Heavy Rains Exemplify Fringe Manifestation of the Phenomenon


Malibuites are learning some interesting lessons about meteorology. It seems that weather phenomena have general characteristics that apply most of time, but they can also have extreme manifestations that may occur so rarely that the phenomena appear to be something else.
A perusal of the postulations of weather habitués—from academia to the media—indicates that the general agreement that a La Niña is in control of Malibu patterns that prevailed at the start of winter still holds.
Certainly the current cooler temperatures are in line with La Niña, Spanish for “the girl,” but not the heavy rainfall, which is more in keeping with an El Niño, Spanish for “the boy,” phenomenon.
However, the two manifestations of correlation between water temperature and precipitation do not occur in a vacuum, and when other environmental factors exert influence, the descriptions become more fluid and extremes such as now being experienced can occur.
The almost 10-mile stretch of Pacific Coast Highway near the Ventura County line that has been closed off and on since Dec. 18 remains shut down while engineers assess its safety
Rockslides and three feet of mud on parts of the road had closed PCH from Yerba Buena Road to Las Posas Road, which serves as Malibu’s coastal route to points north, or northwest.
State Department of Transportation, aka Caltrans, agency and special contract crews have been cleaning up debris and removing loose boulders that were destined for the highway. Some of the boulders sent hurtling to the PCH were a half-ton to close to two tons in weight
After being open most of Tuesday, Dec. 28, Caltrans engineers determined that a projected strong mid-week storm and another storm expected to follow might be too much for the saturated hillsides to handle.
Although the rain last week proved to be less than anticipated, Caltrans is hedging its bets and expected to keep the road closed all of this week.
There is cautious optimism that the road may be reopened on Friday, but motorists are urged to check with Caltrans or the California Highway Patrol before planning on using the route.

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