2015 El Niño Preparation & Response

Scientists predict an extreme El Niño event for the 2015-16 winter season. Stronger than usual winter storms may bring heavy rain and tidal surges that could cause flooding on Los Angeles County beaches, erosion of beach sand and coastal bluffs, and damage to beach property and facilities. At the Department of Beaches and Harbors (DBH), our mission is to care for L.A. County’s coastline as well as Marina del Rey. Here is a list of our efforts to protect our beaches from El Niño this winter.


Constructing beach sand berms to protect County structures, such as maintenance yards, lifeguard facilities, and restrooms, against storms and tidal surges.

  • Timing: starting November 2, 2015
  • Berm Count: 16 berms total
  • Berm Height: 12’ to 15’ tall

Cleaning out debris from catch basins and four storm drain openings (at Zuma, Will Rogers, Venice, and Torrance beaches)before storm season begins, to ensure they’re clear and open to allow for maximum water drainage, and to prevent trash and other debris from flowing to beaches and the Santa Monica Bay.

Lifeguard towers, beach fire pits, and trash barrels are moved to a safer distance farther from the shoreline.

Distributing FREE filled sandbags to the public at the following 8 beach locations:

  1. Zuma Beach - 29600 Pacific Coast Highway
  2. Will Rogers Beach - 15994 Pacific Coast Highway
  3. Venice Beach
    • Rose Ave. - 300 Ocean Front Walk
    • Venice Ave. - 2300 Ocean Front Walk
    • Washington St. - 3100 Ocean Front Walk
  4. Dockweiler Beach - 12000 Vista del Mar
  5. Manhattan Beach - 3621 The Strand @ 36th Street
  6. Torrance Beach - 305 Paseo de la Playa

Click here for Sandbag Flyer

Beach accessway gates in Malibu are locked, both during and after a storm, due to safety hazards resulting from beach erosion.

In case of emergencies in the northern areas of LA County, Zuma Beach's Parking Lot #12 is opened as an evacuation site (particularly for County residents with large animals, such as horses).

Additional trash bins are placed at all beaches, and dumpsters are ordered if necessary, to collect and dispose of all the refuse that enters the creeks, beaches, drains, and basins after a storm.

While the LA County Fire Department's Lifeguard Division is responsible for beach evacuations in dangerous conditions, DBH will post updates via social media.


During a small craft advisory due to a storm, Marina del Rey is a designated safe harbor to vessels at sea.

Storm drains in Marina parking lots #5 and #7 are cleared and opened to prevent flooding.

After a storm, DBH collects and disposes of the high volume of trash in the Marina’s main channel that results from the trash washing down from nearby Ballona Creek.


CA Coastal Commission's website on El Niño includes preparedness checklists, a timetable of periods of expected high tides during the 2015-16 winter advisory, and an El Niño Q&A.

Los Angeles County's El Niño Online Resource Guide provides an overview of all L.A. County agencies involved with preparing for and responding to the storms and flooding resulting from El Niño, as well as preparation information for residents and homeowners.

El Niño Winter Boating Safety provides boating safety, such as keeping informed about weather, water, and tidal conditions, and other resources about El Niño & its potential effects on CA's waterways.

C.A.R.E. (Coordinated Agency Response Effort) is L.A. County Department of Public Works' online resource for the latest Emergency Management news and information. Offers an El Niño Safety Guide, along with information about road closures, locations for emergency shelters, sandbag distribution sites, and other emergency response agencies.

SNAP Volunteer Registry

ALERT LA County is L.A. County's emergency mass notification system that will be used to contact County residents and businesses via recorded phone messages, text messages or e-mail messages regarding emergencies or critical situations and information on necessary actions, such as evacuations.

Because the Alert LA County system uses the 911 database, only land-line numbers are automatically included in the system.

If you have a cellular or Voice over IP number and would like to be notified on that device, or if you would like an e-mail notification, you must register those telephone numbers and/or e-mail address by visiting alert.lacounty.gov