Pacifica, California, residents are being forced to evacuate their homes as cliff erosion from El Nino storms threatens to swallow the houses and apartment complexes. Images of the crumbling City of Pacifica Pier and cliff went viral online earlier today.
Massive chunks of rocks have tumbled down onto the shoreline from the coast bluffs near the city of Pacifica since the weekend. A YouTube video recorded by a drone captured the astonishing footage of the emerging disaster in the San Francisco area.
A city of Pacifica residents who lived inside two homes perched upon the top the cliffs were ordered out of their homes on Monday, KTVU reports. Residents inside an apartment complex awoke to evacuation notices on their doors this week. Some are angry about being ordered to leave and told local reporters that the are staying put. As the cliffs continue to break away closer and closer to their patios, it is unclear how long the apartment complexes will remain standing. Several other nearby homes and apartment complexes have been vacated and abandoned in recent years, the Daily Mail reports.
Lorie Tinfow, the city manager of Pacifica, took action to declare a local state of emergency on Friday. In the declaration, Tinfow noted that storm damage to the California cliffs in the coast city is posing a significant danger to both life and property. Pacifica is a suburb of San Francisco and is located about 10 miles away from the major metropolitan area. The city is home to about 40,000 people.
“El Nino is hitting the city’s coastline very hard and creating almost daily reports of impacts to both public and private property,” the Pacifica city manager noted in the state of emergency notice.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) January 26, 2016
The California cliffs in the Pacific area began breaking off during severe storms in 2003. In 2010, some of the dwellings along the cliffs were vacated or abandoned and plans for demolition began. Several of the residents ordered to pack up their belongings and move this week told reporters that they have nowhere else to go and noted they were on limited incomes and had few options for immediate relocation. The Red Cross has reportedly stepped in to help those forced out of their homes by the crumbling cliffs.
In an effort to stem the cliff erosion, rods were drilled into the sides of the coastal bluffs to reinforce the ground. The faces of the cliffs were coated with reinforced concrete as an added measure to sure up the area, but all efforts now seem to have only been a brief stop-gap endeavor.
Although the Pacifica cliffs were able to hold together after the reinforcement efforts and through the ongoing years of drought, the El Nino storms appear to have bested the high coastal area. El Nino occurs when the warm water near the equator and in the Pacific Ocean have a distribution shift and strong winds begin blowing from east to west. The combination of weather fluctuations prompts water to converge and bulge in the western region of the ocean. When the winds weaken, the warmer water moves toward the eastern region of the ocean and causes a significant temperature increase in the Pacific.
— Berserk (@blackgatzu) January 26, 2016
As Duncan Sinfield’s Storyful drone video shows, large portions of the cliff are breaking away under a boarded-up apartment complex on Esplanade Avenue, where residents used to enjoy an oceanfront view of the Pacific. Portions of other apartments and homes shown in the video are nearly hanging over the Pacifica cliffs, some with their patios dangling in mid-air.
Incredible beach erosion around Pacifica today as massive waves continued to batter the coast. pic.twitter.com/kAPzdvuC3d
— Drew Tuma (@DrewTumaABC7) January 24, 2016
According to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle, the El Nino storms also damaged the Pacifica Pier seawall. The spot has long been popular with both tourists and local fisherman. Weather forecasts indicate that El Nino will continue on into March, bringing more massive waves and severe downpours with it.
[Photo by AP Photo/Eric Risberg]