Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Preparing for Winter Rains

Weather forecasters are expecting a wet winter, here’s how to get prepared! This photo was taken on Larchmont Blvd in August when Tropical Storm (formerly Hurricane) Hilary, hit the region.

Climate scientists are saying the odds of a wet winter are increasing. El Niño, the weather pattern characterized by warmer temperatures, is likely to continue through the first quarter of 2024, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which means the odds of the system becoming a “strong” El Niño have increased to 71%, reported to the Los Angeles Times.

“That could result in a soggy January, February, and March in Central and Southern California, Daniel Swain, a climate scientist with UCLA,” told the Times. Other models point to drier-than-normal conditions but overall forecasters are leaning toward slightly above-normal rain amounts, for Los Angeles this winter.

There was flooding at the intersection of Las Palmas and Beverly Blvd in January 2023 due to the large amount of rain.

As most of us know, it doesn’t take much rain to flood our streets. In August, we reported on the damage and flooding caused by rains from Hurricane Hilary. While we can’t get out there to check our street drains, we can take care of our homes.

We are lucky to live in our wonderful old neighborhoods with our wonderful old houses but rain, especially heavy rain can be a real challenge.

The Buzz asked Lipson Plumbing, a longtime small business in the neighborhood (and Buzz advertiser) for some suggestions on how to prepare for winter rains.

Every house is a bit different in regards to how the property absorbs and distributes rainwater, explained Bob Vacca, owner of Lipson Plumbing.

A house with a basement is susceptible to water intrusion by the simple fact of being the lowest point. Some basements absorb rainwater and others stay dry.

For those basements that get wet every rain, Vacca recommends making sure your sump pump is in good working order. This can be done by pouring several buckets of water into the pit and seeing how and where the water is pumped.

In January water was pumped out of this condominium’s subterranean garage in Hancock Park.

Vacca provided the following checklist of things to do before the seasonal rains to help ensure your house’s future for years to come.

  • Starting with the roof, make sure all tree needles and leaves are cleared from roof and gutters.
  • The gutter downspouts will either connect to a subsoil pipe that terminates at the street curb. If your house has this pipe to the street, run the hose from the furthest entry point to see if the water makes its way to the street. If it does not, you will have to hydrojet or rooter the pipe blockage.
  • Some houses will have backyard area drains that drain to the street. Same deal, make sure the pipe drains water to the street and is free of root and mud blockages.
  • If you have a balcony drain, make sure it is free of debris and run a hose down the drain to make sure the drain is working properly.
  • For basements: determine if you have a sump pump, if so, test it with several buckets of water and see how well it pumps and where it discharges the water to. (if your basement receives water every rain, and your basement sump pump discharges into the soil or flowerbed near your foundation, consider piping that basement pumped water further to the street to avoid that water flowing back into the basement.
  • For basements that do receive water every rain, consider a backup generator for that basement sump pump in case your neighborhood power is cut off during a rain storm.
  • For backsloping driveways that are lower than the street, make sure your pump system is in good working order and the electrical connection is watertight to avoid tripping breakers which would shut off those critical pumps.

That should keep us busy for the next few weekends! We already got the generator during the last round of rain! Questions? Feel free to email Lipson at [email protected].

Rain gardens like this one at Fire Station 29 are a great way to capture some of the rainwater that falls on the site so it can percolate into the ground.
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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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