The City of Pacifica, California, has declared a state of emergency and ordered the evacuation of several homes perched atop coastal bluffs that are at risk of crumbling into the ocean as a result of relentless El Nino storms.
Dramatic drone footage posted on YouTube over the weekend captured huge chunks of the cliffs falling into the surf, with condemned apartment buildings atop teetering precariously on the edge.
Residents were forced out of two compromised clifftop homes Monday, joining the inhabitants of several other nearby properties and apartment buildings abandoned in past years.
Living on the edge: This screengrab from a drone video recorded on Saturday January 23 shows chunks of a bluff along Esplanade Avenue in Pacifica, California, crumbling into the ocean
Doomed: Several of the buildings were condemned and evacuated in 2010 due to their dangerous proximity to the edge of the bluff
‘Before’ picture: This undated image shows two apartment buildings (in red square) along Esplanade Avenue prior to the storm damage
More trouble ahead: Two more compromised clifftop residences were declared uninhabitable on Monday, just days after the oceanside California city declared a state of emergency
Officials drilled reinforcement rods into the bluffs and coated the cliff-faces with reinforced concrete to try and buy some time
The beginning of the end: Storms in 2003 began shearing off huge chunks of the sandstone cliffs in Pacifica
Steps away from the void: Parts of homes and their back patios were left precariously hanging over the watery abyss
Pacifica city manager Lorie Tinfow on Friday declared a local state of emergency, prompted by storm damage to the coastal city of 40,000 located about 10 miles south of San Francisco.
‘El Niño is hitting the city’s coastline very hard and creating almost daily reports of impacts to both public and private property,’ she said in a statement.
Storms in 2003 began shearing off huge chunks of the sandstone cliffs in Pacifica. Several of the homes and apartments were abandoned in 2010 and are currently awaiting demolition.
Officials since then shored up the bluffs, stacking rocks at the base of the cliff to break the crashing waves. They also drilled reinforcement rods into the bluffs and coated the cliff-faces with reinforced concrete.
The cliffs had held in the last four years of drought, but the bluffs have proven no match for the constant onslaught of massive waves and rainstorms brought about by El Nino.
On the brink: A private house overlooking the ocean in Pacifica is seen hanging over the abyss, just a few steps away from the crashing waves
The ocean has been chipping away at the cliffs of Pacifica for years, and El Nino has only accelerated that process
Stormy weather: Meteorologists expect El Nino to last into March, likely bringing more storms and erosion in its wake
Clinging to their homes: Some residents were reluctant to leave their condemned homes, saying they cannot afford to move
El Niño is caused by a shift in the distribution of warm water in the Pacific Ocean around the equator.
Usually the wind blows strongly from east to west, due to the rotation of the Earth, causing water to pile up in the western part of the Pacific.
This pulls up colder water from the deep ocean in the eastern Pacific.
However, in an El Niño, the winds pushing the water get weaker and cause the warmer water to shift back towards the east. This causes the eastern Pacific to get warmer.
But as the ocean temperature is linked to the wind currents, this causes the winds to grow weaker still and so the ocean grows warmer, meaning the El Niño grows.
This change in air and ocean currents around the equator can have a major impact on the weather patterns around the globe by creating pressure anomalies in the atmosphere.
Boulders shore up an eroding cliff below an apartment complex Monday in Pacifica, California
Storms have damaged a seawall and the Pacifica Pier, popular with tourists and anglers, partially closing it
Pacifica Mayor Sue Digre says the ferocious waves in recent weeks have been relentless and longer from north to south than any she’s seen during her 25 years of living in the city
Jonathan Levine stands in his doorway after learning he would have to evacuate his oceanside apartment Monday
Eileen Horan (left) and Garth Yeaman (right) carry some of their belongings after being forced to evacuate their apartments
Danger zone: A notice was taped to a door at one of the condemned buildings along Esplanade Avenue alerting residents that it has been deemed unsafe for human occupancy
The dramatic YouTube video shot by Duncan Sinfield, of Storyful, using a drone equipped with a camera, shows a large piece of the cliff breaking off under a vacated apartment building along Esplanade Avenue overlooking the ocean.
Parts of other homes and their back patios were left precariously hanging over the watery abyss.
Storms have also damaged a seawall and the Pacifica Pier, popular with tourists and anglers, partially closing it, reported San Francisco Chronicle.
Skies over Northern California have temporarily cleared, following a series of pounding January storms, but meteorologists expect El Nino to last into March, bringing more crashing waves and downpours.
Officials on Monday tagged an apartment complex of about 20 units at 310 Esplanade Avenue as unsafe, ordering residents to pack their things and be out by sunset.
Residents scrambled to find someplace to go, with the American Red Cross stepping in to offer temporary housing for the evacuees.
Jonathan Levine, who had lived in there for more than a year, said he would stay with friends. ‘I don’t want to leave,’ he said. ‘It was just matter of time.’
But some residents were more than a little reluctant to leave their homes.
‘You guys are going to have to physically drag me out,’ Michelle McKay told the local police chief on Monday. ‘I’m not leaving!’
Officials on Monday tagged an apartment complex of about 20 units along Esplanade Avenue as unsafe, ordering residents to pack their things and be out by sunset
An house stands on the edge of an eroding cliff with the Pacifica Pier in the background Monday
The 55-year-old resident said that with rents in the Bay Area at an all-time high, she has no money to rent another apartment, reported KTVU.
‘I’m not worried about what I see out the back,’ McKay said, referring to the 80-foot vertical drop outside her door. ‘I’m worried about these guys coming here and telling us we can’t live here, we can’t sleep here tonight.’