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Hollywood on a rainy day
Photograph: InSapphoWeTrest/Wikimedia

10 things to do before El Niño hits LA

Make sure to fit in these 10 activities before the forecasted wet winter arrives

Michael Juliano
Written by
Michael Juliano
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By now you've heard plenty of rumblings about the "Godzilla" El Niño expected to peak between December and February. A rise in ocean temperatures in the Pacific suggests the weather system could outpace the famously destructive 1997-'98 storms. In other words, prepare yourself for figuring out what to do on a rainy day in LA. It's not a done deal that this winter will bring drought relief—the Public Policy Institute of California notes that there's no clear pattern of heavy rainfall during El Niño years—but we're playing it safe. Just in case LA ends up looking more like Seattle this winter, here are 10 things you should do before El Niño hits.

10 things to do before El Niño hits

If you’ve ever seen an overflow pipe during a storm, you know why not to visit the beach. All of that runoff turns the ocean into a polluted mess the day after it rains. If you plan on swimming, go now—water temperatures are just starting to dip down from the late-summertime highs.

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Take a joyride up Angeles Crest
Photograph: Courtesy Dave Jurasevich/Mt. Wilson Observatory

Take a joyride up Angeles Crest

This mountainous highway is prone to rock and mudslides—especially in recent burn areas. If you’re planning on traversing Mount Wilson or just going for a joyride along Angeles Crest, the trip can get messy and dangerous in the rain—and nearly unsurpassable in the snow.

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Speaking of traffic, the best way to beat rainy day gridlock is by not driving at all. Pick up a TAP card and get to know LA’s network of light rail and subway lines. Don’t feel like walking to a station in the rain? Consider checking out which stations have parking to stay extra dry.

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Driving in the rain isn’t exactly Angelenos’ strong point. You probably don’t want to explore Santa Barbara or Laguna Beach in the rain to begin with, and you certainly don’t want to have to drive there on slick, Thunderdome-like freeways.

Pedal the LA River bike path
Photograph: Courtesy SLO County Bicycle Coalition

Pedal the LA River bike path

LA’s much-maligned pathetic little trickle transforms into a raging river during rain storms. Though the bike path is protected on its perch atop the concrete channel, some stretches don’t have guard rails and, well, safety first.

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Tend a plot in a community garden
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Tend a plot in a community garden

On the other hand, if the conditions aren’t too extreme, El Niño means sweet, sweet rain in the middle of this historic drought. Take advantage of the potentially wet winter and find a community garden nearby to start growing your own food.

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