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Preparing for El Niño on the Orange County coast

High water levels flood the stairwell leading to a small beach primarily used by kayakers in Sunset Beach during a king tide in December 2014.

High water levels flood the stairwell leading to a small beach primarily used by kayakers in Sunset Beach during a king tide in December 2014.

(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

With El Niño looming, Huntington Beach is preparing its infrastructure and residents for expected winter storms.

Brevyn Mettler, the city’s emergency-services coordinator, told City Council members Monday night about steps the Public Works, Marine Safety and other city departments have taken to minimize flooding around town.

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Mettler said storms, largely driven by El Niño, are expected to hit Southern California from mid-January through April. El Niño is a warming of ocean waters that can cause dramatic changes to the atmosphere, altering weather patterns worldwide. This year’s El Niño is stacking up to be one of the strongest on record and is expected to bring heavy rains to California.

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In anticipation, Huntington Beach marine-safety officials will build a 5-by-20-foot sand berm in front of properties next to the beach that are susceptible to unusually high tides known as “king tides.” Marine-safety officials also are trained for any swift-water rescues that may be necessary because of flooding.

The Public Works Department has replaced several flood-control station engines to handle any increased water flow, and emergency generators will be installed at each of the 15 flood stations. Storm channels have been cleaned and cleared of any blockages.

In Sunset Beach, Public Works has extended the seawall along Pacific Coast Highway and installed bladders in catch basins to prevent seawater from flowing onto the streets during king tides, Mettler said.

Carpio writes for Times Community News.

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