Sacramento Region Gets El Nino Alert

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SACRAMENTO --

Emergency responders and PG&E are telling residents in the Sacramento Region and surrounding foothills to expect an El Nino winter with a series of heavy rainstorms.

PG&E meteorologist Scott Strenfel told a media gathering at the California Office of Emergency Services that measurements from a region of the Pacific Ocean compare with those of several heavy El Nino wet winters in the 1980s and '90s.

"The story here is that we expect this El Nino to rival the strongest El Ninos of the past," Strenfel said.

Kelly Huston of the State Office of Emergency Services says the fear is that residents will not prepare of an emergency because they may feel empty reservoirs will capture badly needed rainfall after a drought.

But where the water will fall is unpredictable and will likely be widespread.

"Uncontrolled creeks and streams where it could wash out roadways, create flooding conditions in neighborhoods," said Huston.

PG&E is getting ready for an El Nino event because has a lot at stake including billions of dollars of infrastructure and millions of power customers who might be affected.

It now has systems in place that can predict the number of outages in a given storm area helping them stage repair crews ahead of time. It has already increased its three-month stash of back-up gear.

"Electric transformers and power poles and wire....since El Nino is on top of us now, we've doubled that," said Barry Anderson, vice president of emergency preparedness and operations.

Strenfel said if predictions are correct, we can expect storms in January, February and March.

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