The weatherman is putting out a wake-up call to Southern California this winter. Forecast: geothermal voodoo courtesy of the freak-ish condition known as El Niño, which toasts the ocean and can trigger torrential rains, which, in turn, breeds fear into the hearts of a hillside beach town like Malibu. Rain begets mud begets landslides begets possible trouble in paradise.
There might have been twitches of nervousness when a drizzle came down here one early October morning. A marquee by an oceanfront restaurant voiced skepticism perhaps verging on denial: “El Niño, Hype or Hoax.”