El Niño Hits


Brendan Cooke and Nerolee Peters

Somewhere in the mountains of Hawaii lies a small observatory. In the observatory sits a highly sophisticated satellite radar that monitors weather patterns. One day, a scientist saw a huge white band across the Pacific while monitoring a typhoon during the month of January 1998.

"Holy Toledo! I've never seen anything like this in my life," exclaimed Dr. Ruth Shabbard, a highly acclaimed meteorologist.

"Well what is it?" asked another meteorologist named Jack Brown.

"It's the largest case of El Niño I've seen," said the Dr. Shabbard.

"Oh, yes, of course. It is due this year, isn't it? We're going to see oceans warming up and the rains and snow at weird times and strange places."

"It also becomes dry in wet places, too," added another scientist named Mack Ng.

"I wonder what will happen this time," thought Dr. Shabbard.

A month later, Patty Jones and her son, Billy had to buy some sandbags because a huge storm was coming in from Alaska. Patty is a single mother with a nice job and car. She lived with her son in the Hollywood Hills above the city of Los Angeles.

"Billy, come here," said Patty.

"I'm helping this man with his sandbags," said Billy.

"Billy, please help me. My hands are hurting," pleaded Patty. Billy told the man he couldn't help him anymore and went over to help his mom load the sandbags into the back of their Ford Explorer. He hopped into the passenger seat, buckled up and waited for his mother to do the same. As soon as they pulled out of the station, Patty turned on the radio for the trip home to listen to the latest storm warnings.

The radio cracked and the broadcaster announced that the storm that was coming from Alaska would be here in a few hours and it was expected to last five days.

"We don't have much time," said Patty, "we need to spend the rest of the day putting these bags around the house when we get home."

"Sure, Mom. We'll get it done, don't worry," answered Billy. They both worked hard to post sandbags along the sidewalk and garage.

At 10:00 that evening, both Billy and Patty were fast asleep. It started to rain ferociously and it didn't stop. The reservoir that was situated 900 feet away from their house began to overflow. Because it was a cold storm, it started to snow in the mountains at 1,000 feet. Suddenly, the rain stopped. There was complete and utter silence, almost eerie-like. Then Billy was awakened by rumbling sounds. He jumped out of bed and ran up to the roof where he got a good view of the reservoir. Shivering, he climbed down the hatchway, and went straight to his Mom's room.

"Mom! Mom! Wake up! It looks like the reservoir is spilling water down the hill and it's coming our way," cried Billy.

"No it's not, Billy. That's silly. Now go back to bed," said Patty half sleeping.

"Mom, listen to me, I hear something," said Billy who was shaking his mother violently. Just as the words came out of his mouth, a huge 10 foot wave of mud rolled down their narrow street. By now Patty was up and looking out the window.

"Oh my God!" cried Patty.

"Let's go downstairs to the basement," cried Billy.

"No, no, let's stay upstairs," said Patty.

They watched horrified as the wave of mud picked up cars and trees along the street and carried them down the hill. Then the rain started again and came down more intense than ever. Somehow the house survived the huge wave and Patty and Billy escaped unscathed. They saw that their Explorer was still safe in their garage. It was a little muddy, but undamaged nonetheless.

"Billy, get some clothes. We're going to get out of here," said Patty.

"Where are we going?" asked Billy.

"I don't know yet, west, south, maybe to Arizona," said Patty.

It was still raining throughout the whole city. Most neighborhoods looked like a tornado had passed through. All of Southern California had no electricity, no running water, sewages were backed up, and every street was flooded in over three feet of water. Nevertheless, Patty and Billy got into the truck and began driving away from the house.

"Mom this is so stupid. It's still raining and we're going to get stuck," said Billy.

"No, we're not. This car has four-wheel drive," said Patty, but no sooner had she said it that their engine stopped.

"Great. It's raining, I'm cold, I'm hungry, and I have to use the bathroom," said Billy, and we're stuck in the middle of nowhere.

In complete frustration, Patty began to cry. She knew that they were in more trouble than just Billy having to go to the bathroom. Suddenly, the rain stopped and the sun began to shine.

"It's a miracle!" shouted Patty.

"Yeah, yeah," said Billy, half mocking his mother. He wasn't cooperating at all. Billy seemed to think that it was all his mother's fault. Patty kept trying to start the truck, waiting between times, so she wouldn't flood the engine. Soon the engine turned over and the truck began to shake.

"Good, our engine started," said Patty with a sigh of relief.

They proceeded down the freeway forging through deep water. To get to Arizona, they had to pass over mountains, and the roads were slippery. Snow and ice covered the roads. Finally, the two found a motel room even though it was packed with residents fleeing from the city. All of the restaurants were full and they were running out of food.

"Mom, are you afraid?" asked Billy. Patty hesitated before she answered him.

"Yes honey, I am afraid," said Patty solemnly.

They then went to sleep, cuddling each other to keep warm, while the rain pelting against the windows of the motel. The next day, they got into their car and proceeded down the hill. Soon it started to snow. The wind and snow blew down the mountain furiously. Fortunately, the windshield wipers worked well and the 4x4 power train was working flawlessly. In some places, the snow was 20 feet deep. The Explorer moved on cautiously, especially when the winding roads came up. WhenPatty turned a corner going around the tight road curve, she hit a deep snow bank and the Explorer got stuck.

The both left the car on the driver's side because the passenger door was wedged against the snowbank. They got their belongings from the car, locked the doors, and walked down the road hoping to find a person who would also be heading to Arizona. It was still snowing in the mountains. Much to their dismay, they heard on their portable radio that a ridge of high pressure was developing and it was pushing the storm south. Patty and Billy both screamed in delight.

"El Niño is gone," cried Billy.

"It sure is," said Patty.

Unfortunately, the radio also said that people in the mountain communities, shouldn't expect snow plows for another day because the snow was too deep. So Patty and Billy went back to the Explorer for the day. They spent all day and all night in the car. The next day, they were awakened by glimmering sunshine.

"Mom look, the roads have been plowed," said Billy.

"Put your seat belt on, we are getting out of here," said Patty.

And with a twist of a key, their car backed up out of the snowbank and the went back home. They gave each other a hug glad to be alive, ready to face tomorrow even though it was going to rain.

About the Authors

Brendan Cooke is a Junior at Manual Arts High School, College Prep. Magnet. He loves to read novels in his spare time, and enjoys cooking good food. His favorite subject in school is International Relations because he likes to know what is going on in the world. He plans to attend McGill University in Montreal and attend their renowned medical school.

Nerolee Peters is a Junior at Manual Arts High School, College Prep. Magnet. Her hobbies are plahing basketball and running track. Her favorite subject is History. She plans to graduate from Florida Memorial College and become a pilot for an advertising agency.


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