23 Crazy Ways El Niño Has Unleashed Its Wrath on California... So Far

You may have heard recently that this El Niño, which, by the way, ranks as the strongest one on record ever, has passed its peak in terms of tropical ocean temperatures. And maybe you were like, “Oh, good, I don’t need to buy sandbags or galoshes after all!” Hahahaha. Yeah, no, sorry, but that’s not how it works.

In fact, there’s literally zero reason for Californians to relax because all the havoc we’ve warned you about is still going to happen; El Niño’s just begun. Which means the mayhem is only going to get worse than the insanity that’s already happened. You know, all of the stuff like:

This rockslide at Yosemite National Park

Oh, did you think you were going to access Yosemite National Park via the Arch Rock entrance last week? These enormous boulders that crashed onto Highway 140 and completely blocked the road for days had a different plan in mind.

These venomous sea snakes

Yellow-bellied sea snakes, which have tiny fangs (!!!) and neurotoxic venom, are supposed to live in tropical waters, but thanks to El Niño have been spotted in Huntington Beach and Oxnard. Scientists say their small jaws mean they aren’t a danger to humans, but they’re still venomous snakes. With fangs. Enough said.

These 50 foot waves at Mavericks

The waves were so big that they forced the annual surfing contest to be delayed and left pro surfer Garrett McNamara with a broken upper arm after a gnarly wipeout. And yes, that’s the only time we’ll use “gnarly.” In this article, anyway.

This house that’s definitely going to fall down that hill

The only thing holding the retaining wall that’s holding the house is a pickup truck. Even worse? If (sorry: WHEN) the Sonoma County hillside and house go, it’s a vertical drop onto, yup: other houses. 

This house that was blown over

This mobile home landed on its roof thanks to high winds caused by one very hungry wolf named El Niño. Mmmmmm bacon.

This teacher who didn’t cancel class even though the room was flooding

Everyone knows the best part of a natural disaster is when work and school are canceled. Apparently this professor at UCSD didn’t get the memo though because he just kept rambling on about vector calculus even as storm water flooded into his classroom.

This elementary school that did

It was flooded after rain caused a draining pipe to burst.

This flooding that shut down all but two lanes on the 5

As if traffic in Southern California wasn’t bad enough. Three to four feet of water meant there was only one lane going in each direction on the I-5 in Sun Valley. No reports yet on how many people filed for divorce after making it to safety.

This river that didn’t used to exist

Before El Niño this was actually a just a nice little street people used for driving cars to and from places.

This big rig that crashed in Monterey Park due to rain slicked roads

And crushed a car beneath it while also causing four other cars to collide.

The people in these cars in San Diego

Who needed to be rescued by lifeguards due to rising waters.

This car that got stuck by the Bay Bridge

High tide + rain + sleeping in your car = you’re famous!

This car that got stuck in Encino

Note to Mini Cooper drivers: this could be you. (That’s not a good thing.)

This car

That was totaled by a tree.

And this car that got stuck in a parking lot

OK, actually the driver’s reaction makes this one totally worth it.

This mudslide

That broke a retaining wall and destroyed property in Pasadena.

This flash flood

That happened at the same time as a gustnado in SoCal making one wonder if sharknados could ever be a real thing.

This tree

That almost killed a man on his birthday.

This tree

That blocked traffic in Santa Cruz for hours.

This tree

That fell in San Francisco’s Mission district.

Annnnd this tree

That fell on a Porsche in San Francisco.

This Lamborghini

... that turned into a submarine, which is the best thing that’s happened during El Niño so far. Well, except for:

This El Niño-powered trash can


Sign up here for our daily San Francisco email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun SF has to offer.

Daisy Barringer is an SF-based writer who wishes every year could be an El Niño year. Bring on the pow! Follow her on Twitter @daisy.