Lost Gem Returned to Rightful Owners

NEWPORT-MESA — Spotted on Thursday: Sun.

By Marc S. Posner
Daily Pilot
This was an El Niño year and it rained and rained and rained every single day. And rain, my friends, isn’t why you seek a reporting position at a beach-town paper. Worse than the rain, were the daily requests from the editors for a weather story. This one really broke the final straw for me when I was asked for another weather reax. “Um, it didn’t rain yesterday.” “Good — write about that.”

Albeit though fleeting glances masked by often-dark cloud cover, Southern California’s top attraction marked its return to the sky after nearly a week’s hiatus.

The sometimes-blue sky and golden glow were vaguely familiar sights to those still mopping up after rains lingered longer into the morning than weather officials predicted.

Those same experts now say a new storm anticipated for this weekend may arrive a bit later than expected and it may pack a better wallop than they thought on Wednesday.

Estimates then said it appeared the storm might brush by to the north.

But now meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Oxnard say the Orange County coast in the storm’s target. The big question, forecasters said, is how much rain will fall and how quickly?

“The ground is still pretty saturated,” Meteorologist Robert Barufalldi said. “It’s not going to hold that much more moisture. If it comes in and it’s steady and light for a long period of time, you’ll probably be OK.

“But,” he said, “if it comes down real heavy, you’ll probably have some problems.”

Today’s forecast calls for a 20% chance of showers this morning with highs in the mid-60s. It’ll be partly cloudy tonight with the cover increasing through Saturday night, Barufalldi said.

That’s when the rain is slated to return, with continued precipitation through Sunday, he said. There’s also a chance of showers continuing into Monday.

Only one local public street closure remained, according to officials. Gisler Avenue was closed at Washington Avenue because of poor drainage, said Gary Wong, an assistant engineer in Costa Mesa.

In Newport, officials were puzzled by tides on Thursday morning that rose almost a foot higher than they were supposed to. High tides are a concern in the Balboa area, General Services Director Dave Niederhaus said.

But an official at the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Harbor Patrol said this weekend’s tides likely won’t be high enough to compound rain floods.

“You won’t have the flooding on the peninsula and on Newport Island that you would have when the tides are a foot or a foot-and-a-half higher than they are this weekend,” Harbor Patrol Dispatcher Ted Stephens said.

Still, he added a large “but” to that equation.

“If we have extremely heavy rains — two inches or so inland — then we’re going to have some of the same (flooding) problems,” Stephens said. “The only reason for that, isn’t the tide, it’s the water coming down the creeks, basically filling up the harbor and creating a surge.”

In anticipation of high tides and rain runoff, some 15,000 sandbags have been filled and distributed in the past week, Niederhaus said.

City crews spent most of Thursday cleaning up from the week’s storm damage, Niederhaus. The tab is pegged at $50,000, the bulk going to overtime for police, fire and city repair crews, he said.

City officials are keeping a close eye on the cleanup figure, angling to get state and federal reimbursement.

That something residents can do as well.

Federal officials announced on Thursday that residents and business owners in Orange and 23 other counties are eligible for financial assistance for damage, debris removal, repairs and other storm-related costs.

A joint hotline between the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state Office of Emergency Services can be reached at (800) 462-9029 or for the hearing impaired at (800) 462-7585.

Those whose jobs or self-employment have been interrupted by the storms also can get federal help. Information about the Disaster Unemployment Assistance program can be found at those same phone numbers or at state Employment Development Department offices.