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El Niño Temporarily Moves Aside For Unexpected Warm Temperatures

Warm

What happened to El Niño?

Winter forecasts suggested California was bracing for rain, snow, flooding and mudslides in 2016.

Not this.

Not shorts, flip flops and sunshine.

Fullerton was the hottest city in the United States on Monday, topping out at 89 degrees.

The unexpected heat wave in the middle of February set a new record at the Los Angeles International Airport (89 degrees) and downtown San Francisco tied a record with 74 degrees.

More potential records were on tap for later in the week. Temperatures could reach into the 90s in Southern California.

“We are currently under a strong ridge of high pressure (dry and warm weather),” National Weather Service meteorologist Michelle Mead said. “That is driving the storm track north and east of California.”

Northern California was preparing for record-setting heat on Tuesday.

Fairfield (69 degrees) was projected to surpass its previous record of 65. Stockton, Shasta Dam and Blue Canyon were all expected to either equal or eclipse past highs.

Other cities such as Redding, Red Bluff, Modesto and Grass Valley were also threatening respective records.

Whereas the Midwest and eastern parts of the United States were still dealing with winter-type temperatures and precipitation, the majority of the West, including Oregon and Washington, had no threats of consistent rain or snow in the immediate forecast.

Arizona, New Mexico and Texas also had temperatures soaring into the high 70s and low 80s.

The anticipation of El Niño was expected to at least put a dent into California’s historic drought of four-plus years. Nearly the entire state is still in either extreme or exceptional drought conditions, despite an optimistic start to winter.

“The main thing to note here is while there are some slight improvements, we’re still in severe and extreme drought,” Mead said. “Also, these should be considered short-term gains, as we’ll have to wait and see if precipitation continues and these improvements can be sustained into our spring and summer season.”

While Northern California is 105 percent above normal snowpack in the Sierras, Southern California is below average of rainfall, with downtown Los Angeles less than 52 percent of normal since Oct. 1.

“We are very happy to have the rain we’ve seen and we’d like to have it spread out over the next several months,” said Kim Zagaris, Chief for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) Fire and Rescue Division.

With unseasonal February temperatures, there is unusual concern this time of year about fire danger. Ventura firefighters dealt with a brush fire on Sunday that briefly threatened homes.

Warm temperatures also may lead to heat-related concerns such as heat exhaustion.

“It can be deceiving,” said Zagaris of heat in the winter months. “It’s important to drink water to start the day; most people drink coffee in the morning. Then keeping drinking water all day to stay hydrated.”

The possibility of wildfires increase without rain or snow in the extended forecast, combined with heat and the state’s prolonged drought.

“Fire season is all year long,” Zagaris said “We have times there are more peak seasons than others, but we treat it as being all year long.”

Even with the recent warming trend, the National Weather Service insists El Niño isn’t done. Having a dry spell in winter months isn’t uncommon, as it’s typical to see a 10-day to two-week dry period during the state’s wettest months.

Long-term models indicate this ridge may be more of a 21-day break, but do hint that the ridge will weaken and allow storms to move back into California approximately by late next week.

“Overall the Central and northern portion of the state have fared pretty well so far to date this winter season,” said Mead. “The bad news is since February is one of the very wet months of the six-month wet season, a ten-day to two-week dry spell can quickly bring seasonal averages back to or below normal.”

Until the storms resume, Zagaris cautioned about dealing with warm temperatures.

“You should always be safe when out and about in open areas and always think about personal safety,” he said.

Additional information on Cal OES Fire and Rescue can be located here.

 

Law Enforcement Agencies and the NFL Plan, Prepare and Partner for Super Bowl Safety

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The Super Bowl is one of the most popular annual events in the U.S. and this year, California was lucky enough to be the host. Festivities in the Bay Area have already begun and with game day right around the corner, the NFL and law enforcement held a press conference today to highlight public safety plans and assure fans they will be safe.

Knowing that hosting such a popular event comes with great public safety responsibility, local, state and federal agencies have been collaborating with the NFL since Levi stadium was chosen as the venue.

Football fans may have already noticed an increased law enforcement presence in the Bay Area and especially at Super Bowl activities. In addition to heightened to local law enforcement presence and operations, other notable actions in place to keep fans safe are:

  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is providing security assessments and training to local law enforcement and local hotels.
  • NFL and DHS partnership with the “If You See Something, Say Something” messaging.
  • The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is sending more than 100 additional officers and specialists to assist in security operations at the Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose airports.
  • The U.S. Secret Service will support open-source social media monitoring for situational awareness and assisting with cyber security vulnerability assessments and mitigation.
  • The U.S. Coast Guard will provide maritime security and interagency support.
  • The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will conduct operations targeting counterfeit vendors and will also provide venue security.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is providing Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) units in the event of an emergency.
  • DHS Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) is deploying Mobile Detection Deployment Units to supplement existing radiological and nuclear detection and reporting capabilities.
  • DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis (OIA) is providing on-site intelligence support at various locations in the Bay Area.
  • DHS Office of Health Affairs (OHA) will deploy a network of BioWatch detectors to warn public health officials in the event of a biological agent.
  • DHS Blue Campaign will display awareness materials to help individuals and communities identify and recognize indicators of human trafficking.

The Cal OES mission is to provide support to local government and coordinate needed resources and has been involved in Super Bowl public safety operations. Along side local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, Cal OES will be monitoring the Super Bowl event and are prepared to provide support to local agencies as needed. Representatives from Cal OES are already embedded in local operations and stand ready to respond.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 4.28.10 PM.pngLaw Enforcement Branch Chief Mark Pazin represented Cal OES at today’s press conference. Chief Pazin oversees law enforcement mutual aid for California and has been heavily involved in Super Bowl security operations.

“We have been very involved in coordinating and collaborating with the NFL and law enforcement agencies on Super Bowl security”, said Chief Pazin. “Providing support to local agencies and working with state and federal partners in the name of public safety is a top priority.”

When it comes to safety, the public also has an important role. The public safety agencies briefing at today’s press conference said there are no known credible threats for the Super Bowl, but had an important reminder for fans: If you see something, say something. Fans are urged to report suspicious activity to law enforcement.

“If you see something, say something is more than a slogan. Public vigilance and public awareness contributes to a safe and secure event,” said Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Among those briefing on Super Bowl security operations were:

  • Secretary Jeh Johnson, Department of Homeland Security
  • Jeffrey Miller, NFL Senior Vice President of Security
  • David Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI; San Francisco Field Office
  • Tatum King, Federal Coordinator, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Mike Sellers, Chief, Santa Clara Police Department
  • Greg Suhr, Chief, San Francisco Police Department

Also in attendance:

  • Chief Mark Pazin, Cal OES Law Enforcement Branch
  • Major General David Baldwin, California National Guard
  • And representatives from the – California Highway Patrol, United States Marshal, U.S. Secret Service, Santa Clara Fire Department, and San Francisco Fire Department.

The Super Bowl will take place on Sunday, February 7th at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. Fans are encouraged to visit the venue website for specifics on entry, parking, prohibited items and other information to ensure they are prepared for game day. In addition, it is always a good idea to become familiar with your surroundings and have a plan in place in the event of an emergency.

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SBA Offers Disaster Assistance to California Small Businesses Economically Impacted by the 2015 Dungeness Crab Season Delay and Rock Crab Fishery Closure 

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering low-interest federal disaster loans to California small businesses that have suffered financial losses due to the ocean conditions resulting in the delayed Commercial Dungeness Crab Season that was set to open on November 15, 2015, and the November 6 closure of the Commercial Rock Crab Fishery that is normally open year-round, SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet announced today. 

By declaring a disaster, Administrator Contreras-Sweet’s action makes low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) available immediately to help meet financial needs caused by the Commercial Dungeness Crab Season delay and the closure of the Commercial Rock Crab Fishery. SBA acted under its own authority to declare a disaster following a request SBA received on January 27, 2016, from Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Jr.’s designated representative, Mark S. Ghilarducci, director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

 

The declaration covers the primary California counties of Alameda, Butte, Contra Costa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Nevada, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Sonoma, and the neighboring counties of Alpine, Amador, Colusa, Glenn, Kern, Kings, Monterey, Napa, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Benito, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo and Yuba in California; Douglas and Washoe counties in Nevada; and Curry and Josephine counties in Oregon.

 

“The U.S. Small Business Administration is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer‑focused response possible to assist small businesses with federal disaster loans. We will be swift in our efforts to help these small businesses recover from the financial impacts of this disaster,” said Administrator Contreras-Sweet.

 

SBA is offering working capital loans of up to $2 million at an interest rate of 4 percent for small businesses and 2.625 percent for private, non-profit organizations with terms up to 30 years. “SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. These loans can provide vital economic assistance to fishing and fishing-dependent businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing,” said Tanya N. Garfield, Director of SBA’s Disaster Field Operations Center – West.

 

“SBA customer service representatives will be in the affected communities along the California coast to meet individually with business owners to answer questions about SBA’s EIDL assistance, explain the application process, and help them complete their application,” Garfield said. 

 

 

– more –
 

Some eligible business owners include: small businesses engaged in crab fishing in the waters affected by the delay of the Commercial Dungeness Crab Season or the closure of the Rock Crab Fishery, small businesses dependent on the catching or sale of crab, including suppliers of fishing gear and fuel, docks, boatyards, processors, wholesalers, shippers, and retailers, and other small businesses dependent on revenue from the above.

 

SBA representatives will be available at the following locations on the days and times indicated. No appointment is necessary.

DEL NORTE COUNTY

Disaster Loan Outreach Center (DLOC)

Crescent City Harbor District

Harbor Office Meeting Room

101 Citizens Dock Road

Crescent City, CA 95531

Opens: Monday, February 8 at 8 a.m.

Monday and Tuesday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Center closes Tuesday, February 9 at 5 p.m.

HUMBOLDT COUNTY

Disaster Loan Outreach Center

Woodley Island Marina

Conference Room (formerly Pilot’s Office)

601 Startare Drive

Eureka, CA 95501

Opens: Wednesday, February 10 at 12 p.m.

Wednesday, 12 – 5 p.m., Thursday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Friday, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Center closes Friday, February 12 at 1 p.m.

MENDOCINO COUNTY

Disaster Loan Outreach Center (DLOC)

Salmon Trollers Marketing Association

19292 South Harbor Drive (bottom of hill, on left)

Fort Bragg, CA 95437

Opens: Tuesday, February 16 at 8 a.m.

Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.,

Thursday, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Center closes Thursday, February 18 at 12 p.m.

MONTEREY COUNTY

Disaster Loan Outreach Center

Monterey Harbor Office

250 Figueroa Street

Monterey, CA 93940

Opens: Friday, February 12 at 8 a.m.

Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.,

Tuesday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Center closes Tuesday, February 16 at 5 p.m.

MONTEREY COUNTY

Disaster Loan Outreach Center (DLOC)

Moss Landing Harbor District

7881 Sandholdt Road

Moss Landing, CA 95039

Opens: Wednesday, February 10 at 8 a.m.

Wednesday and Thursday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Center closes Thursday, February 11 at 5 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO COUNTY

Disaster Loan Outreach Center

San Francisco Crab Boat Owners Association

Crab Hall

2907 Al Scoma Way

San Francisco, CA 94133

Opens: Tuesday, February 23 at 12 p.m.

Tuesday, 12 – 5 p.m., Wednesday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Center closes Wednesday, February 24 at 5 p.m.

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY

Disaster Loan Outreach Center (DLOC)

Central Coast Wome n in Fisheries

1287 Embarcadero

Morro Bay, CA 93442

Opens: Wednesday, February 17 at 12 p.m.

Wednesday, 12 – 5 p.m., Thursday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Friday, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Center closes Friday, February 19 at 12 p.m.

SAN MATEO COUNTY

Disaster Loan Outreach Center

Pillar Point Harbor

1 Johnson Pier

Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

Opens: Thursday, February 25 at 8 a.m.

Thursday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., 

Friday, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Center closes Friday, February 26 at 1 p.m.

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY

Disaster Loan Outreach Center

Santa Barbara Harbor Community Room

113 Harbor Way

(access adjacent to the valet parking area)

Santa Barbara, CA 93109

Opens: Monday, February 22 at 8 a.m.

Monday and Tuesday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Center closes Tuesday, February 23 at 5 p.m.

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY

Disaster Loan Outreach Center (DLOC)

Harbor Public Meeting Room

365-A Lake Avenue (across from R&S Docks)

Santa Cruz, CA 95062

Opens: Monday, February 8 at 8 a.m.

Monday and Tuesday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Center closes Tuesday, February 9 at 5 p.m.

SONOMA COUNTY

Disaster Loan Outreach Center

Bodega Bay Fire Protection District

Burke Room

510 Highway 1

Bodega Bay, CA 94923

Opens: Friday, February 19 at 8 a.m.

Friday and Monday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Center closes Monday, February 22 at 5 p.m.

 

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

 

Disaster loan information and application forms are also available from SBA’s Customer Service Center by calling (800) 659-2955 or emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Individuals who are deaf or hard‑of‑hearing may call (800) 877-8339. For more disaster assistance information or to download applications, visit http://www.sba.gov/disaster. Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

 

The filing deadline to apply for an economic injury loan is November 2, 2016.

 

Risks Of Landslides Rise With Winter Storms

Thirty-six years ago, one of the worst natural disasters occurred in the state of Washington. The major volcanic eruption at Mount St. Helens, caused by an earthquake weakening the north face, killed 57 people and reduced hundreds of square miles to wasteland.

The eruption created the largest landslide in U.S. history and was the most significant of its kind since the 1915 eruption of Lassen Peak in Northern California.

In the United States, landslides and mudslides result in an average of 25 to 50 deaths each year. Causes of landslides include earthquakes, storms, volcanoes, fire and human mismanagement.

The 2014 Oso mudslide, also in Washington, killed 43 and covered approximately 1 square mile.

What are the chances something similar could occur again? What about in California?

“California has a history of large landslides accompanying some winter storms,” said Jonathan Stock, a landslide expert with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). “Although most failures during or shortly after storms are shallow soil failures, large landslides do present a threat.”

Geologists classify landslides according to what’s moving and how it’s moving downhill. Sometimes only the surface materials such as soil and loose rock will fail and slide, other times, the landslide can be much deeper seated, where bedrock is actually moving downhill.

Last October, three Southern California counties – Los Angeles, Kern and Santa Barbara – received as much as 1.81 inches of rain in a half-hour. The storm created a mudslide up to five feet deep and shut down 45 miles of Interstate 5.

More than 200 vehicles were trapped in mud six-feet deep on State Highway 58 in Kern County.

“Winter and spring are typically landslide season in California, although the type of slides and triggering events can vary,” USGS scientist and landslide expert Mark Reid said. “Some past strong El Niño seasons have led to extended rainy periods. Widespread debris flows can occur after the ground is already wet and a large storm delivers intense precipitation. Areas recently affected by wildfires are more sensitive, and can generate debris flows during smaller storms. Debris-flow inducing storm events may occur during El Niño winters or during normal winters.

“Deeper-seated landslides typically require extended wet periods to allow water to reach their deeper slip surfaces,” he added. “This may take weeks or months of precipitation. Such slides often have a delayed response and may even move in the spring during sunny weather. If an El Niño winter brings periods of extended precipitation, it can lead to movement of deep-seated landslides.”

BePreparedCalifornia, a public health centric emergency preparedness resource maintained by the Department of Public Health, created specific preparedness sites for natural disasters here.

“Folks should maintain situation awareness,” said Jason Baker of Department of Public Health. “Be proactive and prepared. It is much easier to be prepared than it is to be repaired.”

Landslides occur when masses of rock, earth or debris move down a slope, while mudslides, also known as debris flows or mudflows, are a common type of fast-moving landslide that tends to flow in channels, according to the California Department of Public Health.

“Where USGS is monitoring soils in landslide prone areas of the San Francisco Bay Area, soil moistures are high and like those that have preceded landsliding during large storms in past years,” Stock said. “It is likely that many landslide-prone steeplands of central and northern California are now susceptible to shallow landslides if intense storms occur.”

Debris flows, where the majority of the materials are coarse-grained such as fine sand to boulder size particles and non-cohesive, are most often triggered by intense rainfall following a period of less intense precipitation or by rapid snow melt.

“In essence, debris flows are often deadlier than slow-moving landslides,” said Reid. “This is because they travel quickly and can reach out onto flatter ground adjacent to steep slopes and mountain streams. Slower moving slides can cause extensive property damage, however. And a large landslide that collapses catastrophically can be deadly, although these occur less frequently.”

To be prepared for possible landslides or mudslides, consider these helpful suggestions from the Department of Public Health.

Before the storm:

  • Assume that steep slopes and areas burned by wildfires are vulnerable to landslides and mudslides.
  • Learn whether landslides or mudslides have occurred previously in specific areas by contacting local authorities, a county geologist or the county planning department, state geological surveys or departments of natural resources or university departments of geology.
  • Contact local authorities about emergency and evacuation plans.
  • Develop emergency and evacuation plans for family and businesses.
  • Develop an emergency communication plan in case family members are separated.
  • Consider leaving if area is vulnerable to landslides.

During the storm:

  • Listen to the radio or watch TV for warnings about intense rainfall or for information and instructions from local officials.
  • Be aware of any sudden increase or decrease in water level on a stream or creek that might indicate debris flow upstream. A trickle of flowing mud may precede a larger flow.
  • Look for tilted trees, telephone poles, fences or walls, and for new holes or bare spots on hillsides.
  • Listen for rumbling sounds that might indicate an approaching landslide or mudslide.
  • Be alert when driving. Roads may become blocked or closed due to collapsed pavement or debris.
  • If a landslide or mudslide is starting, quickly move away from the path of the slide. Getting out of the path of a mudslide is the best protection. Move to the nearest high ground in a direction away from the path. If rocks and debris are approaching, run for the nearest shelter and take cover.

After the storm:

  • Stay away from the site. Flooding or additional slides may occur after a landslide or mudslide.
  • Check for injured or trapped people near the affected area, if it is possible to do so without entering the path of the landslide or mudslide.
  • Listen to the radio or TV for emergency information.
  • Report broken utility lines to the appropriate authorities.
  • Consult a geotechnical expert for advice on reducing additional landslide problems and risks.

Additional storm preparedness can be found at Cal OES and Ready.gov.

 

El Niño Slowly Denting State’s Historic Four-Year Drought

 

The odds are increasing that winter storms associated with El Niño are having a significant impact on California’s historic drought. The question is whether it will be enough to modify water restrictions or possibly even lower the drought severity.

Uncertainty of just how much of an impact the storms had, or will have as winter progresses, will likely linger into spring, according to Jay Lund, Director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis.

Despite steady rain and snow over the past several weeks, many areas in California are still below normal for precipitation and snow for the current water year, which began Oct. 1.

“Unless we get a really big flood, we won’t really know the drought condition until about April 1, roughly the end of the wet season,” Lund said.

The recovery process will be slow and additional storms are needed through the rest of winter to accurately gauge progress.

Regardless, the early winter returns have been encouraging.

“The rains/snow have helped quite a bit,” said Associate Geoscientist/Climatologist Brian Fuchs of the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC). “After 3-4 years of drought in the state, the beginning to this water year has been very favorable. The soils have seen moisture replenished in the top layers and some run-off has been captured in the reservoir network. There is good momentum for the rest of winter, meaning that if the wetter than normal pattern continues we will see improvements to the state as the impacts diminish.”

Fuchs agreed that a substantial amount of rain and snow is still needed to put a considerable dent in the drought.

“Not all of California has seen above normal precipitation for the current water year,” he said. “It will be very difficult to eliminate a multi-year drought in one season, but there is a good opportunity to put a big dent in it, meaning we should anticipate seeing the current drought conditions ease this year.”

The California Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation finalized the 2016 Drought Contingency Plan on Jan. 19 that outlines State Water Project and Central Valley Project operations for February through November 2016.

The plan focuses on water project operations as related to the potential modification requests needed to balance the competing needs and benefits of limited water supplies due to the state’s four-year drought.

Read the full contingency plan here.

“As the full extent of the run-off forecasts are realized closer to spring, each water system should have the opportunity to evaluate their situation and needs based upon current and anticipated storage,” Fuchs said. “Some may be able to rescind restrictions, while others may linger on as the systems fully recover. I believe that there is optimism for improvements, but I also caution that until the situation warrants improvements, we should hastily arrive there.

“Conservation is always a good message, even in wetter times,” he added. “As we have seen many times during the past four years, very favorable wet periods abruptly ended and impacts did not go away.”

The NDMC released updated drought maps today, with 69.07 percent of California still in D3-D4 drought, lumping these same areas in D2, D1, and D0 at the same time. D4 is considered an exceptional drought, while D3 is extreme drought. D2 is severe, D1 is moderate and DO is abnormally dry.

Although another weather system is expected to arrive Friday and extend into the weekend across California, some cities could experience 10 degrees above-average temperatures next week.

In new data released by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2015 was Earth’s hottest year on record. Land and ocean temperatures were nearly two degrees above average.

“My guess is that 2016 will be better than 2015, but it is still early days with more than half of the wet season to go,” said Lund. “It could still go either way, but if I had to wager, I’d guess it will be better than last year.”

The drought was effectively declared a State of Emergency by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. on Jan. 17, 2014.

 

 

Aliso Canyon: State leaders address public concerns on gas leak

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Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci and other state leaders took questions from the public concerned about the gas leak at Aliso Canyon on Friday, Jan. 15 at Shepherd Church in Porter Ranch.

On Friday, Jan. 15, leaders from multiple state agencies participated in a panel discussion and public comment period to discuss the latest information on the Aliso Canyon gas leak in the Los Angeles area. Since the gas leak’s initial detection in late October, thousands of people have left their homes and on Jan. 6 Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. declared a State of Emergency.

Cal OES hosted the entire meeting on online through a live webcast, you can see the archived footage here. An audio link of the meeting is also available here for download.

Images from Friday’s meeting are also available on Cal OES’s Flickr page, here.

Speakers included:

  • Mark Ghilarducci, Director, Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
  • Michael Picker, President, California Public Utilities Commission
  • Elizaveta Malashenko, Director, California Public Utilities Commission Safety and Enforcement Division
  • John Laird, Secretary, California Natural Resources Agency
  • Matt Rodriquez, Secretary, California Environmental Protection Agency
  • Wade Crowfoot, Deputy Cabinet Secretary, Governor’s Office
  • Richard Corey, Executive Officer, California Air Resources Board
  • Drew Bohan, Chief Deputy Director, California Energy Commission
  • Jason Marshall, Chief Deputy Director, California Department of Conservation
  • Lauren Zeise, Acting Director, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

State Leaders, Residents To Discuss Aliso Canyon Gas Leak In Community Meeting Tonight

Photo of Aliso Canyon

 

State leaders and residents of communities impacted by the Aliso Canyon gas leak are scheduled to meet in a public forum at Shepherd Church in Porter Ranch at 7 p.m. tonight.

Southern California Gas Company reported a massive gas leak at its Aliso Canyon storage well in the Los Angeles suburb of Porter Ranch on Oct. 23, prompting Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. to declare a State of Emergency.

On Jan. 4, Governor Brown met with Porter Ranch residents and toured the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility, including the site of the leak and one of the relief wells, the same week he issued a proclamation declaring the situation a State of Emergency.

The implementation of the State of Emergency proclamation focused on stopping the leak, protecting public health and safety, ensuring accountability and strengthening oversight.

“We’ve been collectively involved with this since the inception,” said Mark Ghilarducci, Director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. “It does lend continued importance that we want to provide assurance to the community and to ensure the safety of the residents.”

The meeting includes a panel of ten experts briefing the community on their respective agency’s actions and a Q&A session for residents to ask questions to the panel.

“The biggest thing is having community members hear directly from the state,” said Dan Bout, Cal OES Assistant Director of Response. “We want to let them know ‘here’s what we’re doing,’ to ensure not just safety but long term safety for the residents and to ensure concerns of transparency.”

The Cal OES website is regularly updated with information on the Aliso Canyon gas leak. Tonight’s meeting can be streamed live at http://www.caloes.ca.gov/live.

“It’s an opportunity for the Governor’s administrative officials to go down there and meet with the Porter Ranch community to listen to their concerns and to share with them what things have been done and what will get done,” said Ghilarducci.

The idea of the meeting is to allow residents of the impacted communities to express their concerns and to share dialogue with state officials.

“This is the venue where the community can come and express some of their concerns,” said Bout. “We want to give them a chance to ask questions and to share solutions.”

The main relief well has drilled to a depth of 7,600 feet, with a final depth of about 8,500 to 8,700 feet. The gas company completed the twelfth magnetic ranging effort of the relief well to continuously locate the 7-inch pipe that is leaking gas.

A large sandbag barrier has been completed around the leaking well work site to mitigate water run off from affecting the work schedule. Surface grading for the main relief well is expected to be complete by Jan.​ 25.

“The community continues to have questions regarding the current and future safety of this storage field,” said Paula Cracium, President of the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council and also Development Director of the Shepherd Church. “They want to know the Governor hears and is responsive to their concerns.”

Aside from Ghilarducci of Cal OES, other panelists expected to attend the meeting include:

  • Michael Picker, President, California Public Utilities Commission
  • Elizaveta Malashenko, Director, California Public Utilities Commission Safety and Enforcement Division
  • John Laird, Secretary, California Natural Resources Agency
  • Matt Rodriquez, Secretary, California Environmental Protection Agency
  • Wade Crowfoot, Deputy Cabinet Secretary, Governor’s Office
  • Richard Corey, Executive Officer, California Air Resources Board
  • Drew Bohan, Chief Deputy Director, California Energy Commission
  • Jason Marshall, Chief Deputy Director, California Department of Conservation
  • Lauren Zeise, Acting Director, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

 

 

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