Campus prepares for impending winter downpour
THE SANTA CLARA
October 29, 2015
A storm has come, and Santa Clarans have reason to fear. Precipitation in the upcoming months is expected to be colossal.
The Santa Clara community received a powerfully-worded cautionary email on Oct. 27 from David Burns, director of Emergency Planning about the impending likelihood of intense flooding and rolling blackouts due to the El Niño storm.
“It is safe to say that El Niño is now a fact of life,” Burns said in the email. “PAY ATTENTION! Your life could depend on monitoring the weather.”
El Niño, a period of increased temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, is expected to cause heavy rainfall in cities south of San Francisco starting in mid-December. It is supposed to last through May 2016 — possibly shattering records for rainfall.
“We need to respect the power of this El Niño event,” Burns urged in the email.
Burns advised the university community to review the weather forecast before traveling and to keep food, water and blankets readily available in cars in case someone gets stuck in the rain.
“In the recent flash flood event in Southern California, it took over 20 hours for rescuers to reach the victims of the mudflows on I-5,” Burns said in the email.
Past El Niño events at this magnitude brought 170 percent to 200 percent of normal levels of rainfall to the area below San Francisco.
He urged students to prepare for prolonged power outages by having flashlights with reserve batteries, but stressed in all-caps to “not ever use candles,” in his email.
Burns has worked closely alongside the National Weather Service and various departments within the city of Santa Clara to monitor weather changes and prepare in the case of an emergency.
His main goal is that university continues to operate smoothly throughout the six-month storm.
“We work with Father Engh and his policy group,” Burns said. “We sit with them and we basically evaluate the situation and determine what the impact is and the action we need to take. And we basically communicate what’s going on.”
The campus relies on the city of Santa Clara for emergency supplies like water and safety kits, Burns said.
While Burns and University Operations are concerned about El Niño, some students don’t find the storm to to be a significant concern.
“It’s not a big deal,” said first year Collin Chan. “I mean I’ve never had an experience that would make me believe that this storm would be worse than any other. I don’t know what to expect and I’m not gonna freak out about it.”
Other students are somewhat concerned about the impending weather crisis, but not enough about the specifics of El Niño to be seriously alarmed.
“I’m concerned, but not like in a panicking way,” said sophomore Tina Moore. “I’m not even sure what to expect. I know they were saying there’s gonna be a lot of flooding. I guess we just have to be prepared for it and I don’t know exactly what to expect.”
Contact Emily Mun at email@example.com.