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El Niño Information

What is “El Niño”?
El Niño is a climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean with a global impact on weather patterns.

During an El Niño pattern, the ocean currents in the tropical Pacific Ocean warm up, and the warmer water increases the amount of moisture in the air and affects weather. When there is an active El Niño pattern, there is an above normal chance of very heavy rains along the Pacific coast of California. These rains, if they develop, can result in small urban streams and washes overrunning their banks as well as regional and large scale flooding.

El Niño Outreach Flyer

The El Niño forecast for 2015 is expected to be one of the strongest on record, according to Mike Halpert, the deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). There are predictions it could bring as much as 35 inches of rain during the upcoming winter season in some part of California. “Confidence continues to grow that this El Niño will be one of the strongest we have experienced over the past 50 years, and California will be much more active weather-wise this winter than last winter,” according to Accuweather Meteorologists.

No Need To Panic, But You Need To Take Action
The time to get prepared is NOW! The more prepared you are before El Niño arrives the better you and your home can withstand this winter’s El Niño storms, and getting prepared is simple: inspect your home, take the proper actions, and have the right tools on hand. Once the rain starts falling is not the time to go to the hardware store for your supplies.

Actions To Take

Inspect Your Home
Start with the roof, making sure it is clear of debris that can cause water to puddle. Look for loose or missing shingles, and secure or replace them. Check for roof leaks by looking for water spots or yellowish discolored paint on ceilings inside, and repair any leaks you find. Check for gaps or loose flashing around chimneys and other roof intrusions. Repair trouble spots with roof patch and leak seal materials.

If your roof has gutters, clean them out. Make sure they work and keep them clear during the storm. An inch of rain adds up to 600 gallons per 1,000 square feet of roof, so consider installing removable downspout adapters and flexible drain coils to the gutter’s downspouts to direct water away from your home’s foundation. You can also redirect rainwater into a rain barrel or collection system for future use.

Check around your doors and windows, repairing any bad or missing weather-stripping and leaks to keep the rain outside. Caulking also helps keep heat indoors and cold, wet weather out.

Know the locations of your gas and water shut-off valves. Shut-off tools, available at home centers and hardware stores, attach to your systems in case of an emergency and are easy to use.

Keep waterproof tarps, with enough rope to secure them in place, and buckets on hand. Buckets should be your last resort for leaks, but they sure are handy when you need them.

Most homeowners’ insurance policies don’t cover flooding. If you think your home is at risk of flooding this winter, now is the time to buy flood insurance, said Humilde. Policies take 30 days to go into effect, she added. Policies that cover building and contents cost less than $500 a year, she said. The Floodsmart website includes information about flood insurance and links to insurance agents.

Residents can identify their flood risk by entering their addresses at the government’s Floodsmart website.

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