El Niño strikes San Diego

Brooklyn Dippo | The USD Vista | News Editor

El Niño winds blow sand across the barrier at Mission Beach.

El Niño winds blow sand across the barrier at Mission Beach.

In a city with less than 12 inches of precipitation a year on average, a strong El Niño is causing devastation in our community.  University of San Diego students, particularly those who live near the beach, are feeling the effects of the weather pattern.

Earlier this month storms dumped rain on the city flooding Ocean Beach and Fashion Valley. This week winds along the coast hit 60 miles per hour. With no signs of stopping, students are wondering how to stay safe during these Pacific storms.

El Niño is an interaction between the ocean and atmosphere caused by unusually warm surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. It affects weather patterns, ocean swells, and marine life and can last for six to 18 months. The National Oceanic Atmosphere Association says that El Niño has an 80 percent chance of lasting into the Spring.

Public Safety sent a campus-wide email to students advising them to shelter in place on Jan. 6 during a particularly bad storm caused by El Niño. Even a few inches of water on the streets can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles and with poor drainage and many roads at or below sea level, roads flood quickly in San Diego.

Kellen Coelho, a junior who lives on Kennebeck Court at Mission beach, saw the damage from the storm this weekend first hand.

“I can’t imagine San Diego is accustomed to the drastic weather, much less prepared for it,” Coelho said.

Junior Sam Pantazapolous lives down the street from Coelho on Jamaica Court and the wind did damage to her home.

“I couldn’t get to campus because there was a fallen tree blocking three lanes of traffic,” Pantazapolous said. “And [the wind] broke a window in my house.”

A massive oak tree that was eight feet in diameter fell across Ingraham Street in Pacific Beach on Sunday afternoon from high winds. It crushed four vehicles and killed one motorist who was driving by. Another tree that fell on Monday morning injured an ABC News reporter and photographer who were reporting on falling trees.

While San Diego students can usually rely on consistent summer weather, they shouldn’t.