In Los Angeles, a Growing Sense That ‘Historic’ Weather Is Becoming Normal

Californians have long joked that their state has three seasons: wildfire, earthquake and flood. But as an atmospheric river parked itself over Los Angeles this week, knocking out power and dumping record rainfall, there was a serious coming to terms.

“The weather seems more extreme on every level,” Fred Rosen, a retired entertainment executive, said on Monday, hunkering in the lobby of the nearby Hotel Bel-Air as mudslides threatened his neighborhood. “But where are you going to go?”

The relentless weather system has hammered Southern California from Santa Barbara to San Bernardino since Sunday, and the authorities so far have reported more than 380 mudslides in Los Angeles alone. Rescuers have plucked dozens of people from raging waters, and homeless people have filled shelters.

It has always rained during the winter in Los Angeles, never mind the song that says otherwise. But the succession of extreme weather events — an onslaught of storms a year ago, Tropical Storm Hilary in August and now this marathon of atmospheric rivers — has made Angelenos think that such “historic” occurrences may not be so historic anymore in an era of climate change.

The Los Angeles River on Monday.Credit…Jenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times
Last week, Los Angeles officials and National Weather Service meteorologists warned residents to stay off the roads if possible and to evacuate when told. Credit…Jenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times

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