The Los Angeles Unified School District says it is spending nearly $5 million to accelerate roof replacements at 10 schools in anticipation of storms caused by this winter's El Niño weather system.
“We are proactively preparing to ensure the safety of our students during El Niño,” District Facilities Chief Mark Hovatter says in a news release. “For this reason, we have completed an inventory assessment of our schools to identify potential repairs and improvements. Our plan will address possible scenarios including extraordinary weather such as heavy and unrelenting rains.”
The term El Niño refers to the large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to a periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Typical El Niño effects include warmer-than-average temperatures over western and central Canada, and over the western and northern United States.
NOAA says there is a 95 percent chance of an El Niño pattern, which could result in frequent and intense winter storms. The system developing in the Pacific is an especially strong one, the school district says--three times the size of the continental United States. Officials caution that the system could bring as much as three feet of precipitation to coastal areas of Southern California.
In additional to roof upgrades, Los Angeles Unified workers are inspecting campuses for places where water could drip, creep or seep in. Facilities crews have been clearing storm drains and rain gutters, trimming trees and stockpiling brooms, mops, trash cans and portable fans. The district also is deploying portable sump pumps, generators and sandbags to LA Unified facilities to help minimize response times when storms hit.