Not a drop of El Ni & #324;o rain has hit Los Angeles yet but forecasts of fierce winter storms have already pumped life into some local businesses and caused others to prepare for wet months ahead.
Roofers are among those getting a shot in the arm.
“At this time of year, we would usually get 40 to 50 calls a month now we’re getting that in a day,” said Steve Pinkus, owner of Royal Roof Co. in Los Angeles. “People say that if we can’t do their roof within a couple weeks, that we shouldn’t bother coming out for an estimate. That’s how serious people are about this.”
The roofing industry’s sales “season” usually starts in October or November, but Pinkus said he already has a two-week backlog for repeat customers. “Yellow Pages” customers those who call in out of the blue have to wait at least three to four weeks, he said.
Prices (and profits) are going up with demand, he said, adding that in the peak of the 1982-1983 El Nino rains, roof work was going for prices 50 to 100 percent of what it would in dry times.
The situation is the same for many other roofers. At JBG Roofing & Home Depot Contruction of Los Angeles, partner Brian Tomlin said the roofing business is up by 30 percent compared to the same time last year.
There are other, less obvious beneficiaries of the weather. At Redondo Sportfishing in Redondo Beach, manager Kevin Grace said warm-water fish usually not found in local waters are biting, and that has caught the attention of many fair-weather anglers.
“Yellowtail are here, Dorado fish and you never find them north of the Mexican border,” Grace said. “People have been coming out of the woodwork to get and fish for them, and they’re biting like mad.”
Grace said water temperatures are up an average of 4 degrees these days over normal, and while summer business has been going swimmingly, the relentless weather predicted for the winter will even out the profits.
Rain-outs would also put a damper on business at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, where park spokesman Palmer Moody said there are no plans to deal with the rains.
“We learned some years ago not to make plans based on weather predictions,” Moody said. “Short of putting a roof over the 260-acre facility, there’s not much we can do.”
After Nov. 5, the park is only opened weekends and holidays.
While the rain may be bad news for amusement park box offices, it could be a bonus for the multiplexes.
On rainy days, movie attendance tends to rise “in places like Southern California where people are used to good weather,” said Tom Borys, chief operating officer at Entertainment Data Inc., a Beverly Hills firm that tracks movie ticket sales.
In wet weather, people who might otherwise spend part of their weekend in the garden or out on a bicycle ride will often go to the movies to cure their cabin fever, Borys said.
Golfers may also need to find an indoor activity which is not good news for golf courses.
“We will definitely see business decrease,” said Dante Ciolfi, merchandising manager and a golf instructor at the Alhambra Golf Course in Alhambra.
The course stays open during light rain but closes when standing water materializes on the green, he said.
“But we do have a covered driving range, and sometimes when there’s rain people get bored and spend time at the pro shop,” Ciolfi said. “That can make for a good day.”
Outdoor cafes and restaurants with large patio areas can also suffer in a long wet period.
“As soon as we started hearing about this weather coming up, we have been looking at what to do,” said Carlo Medicina, general manager of the Trilussa restaurant in Long Beach, where about 30 percent of the tables are outdoors.
He said the Italian eatery is now seeking a special permit from the city to erect a canopy over the outdoor area.
Another strategy to beat rained-out business is to do as much of it as possible before the showers start. That is what the Olympic Car Wash in Los Angeles is doing.
“Of course we’re worried,” said co-owner Julie Oh. “All we can really do now is do as much business as possible, and so we’re going to have a big promotion and try to bring it in. After that, all we can do is wait.”
At the Auto Spa Car Wash in Los Angeles, owner Woo Choi said he is used to closing for up to a week during winter rains, but after hearing El Nino news reports is concerned about having to close for weeks at a time.
He said a week’s closure is no big deal because the lost business is made up by customers coming to have their rain spotting washed away. However, that sort of business spurt will not compensate for two or three weeks of idleness.