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What Is El Nino and How to Prepare in Advance

Author: ServiceMaster Restore

What is El Nino? You keep hearing the term and listening to weather broadcasters talk about the impact of El Nino and how it will affect temperatures and rainfall amounts. But what is El Nino, and how will it affect you?

LiveScience offers a simple definition.

"El Nino is a climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean with a global impact on weather patterns."

Understanding El Nino

El Nino isn't a single storm or weather event. It's a cycle of climate development directly linked to the periodic warming of oceanic surface temperatures, specifically across the central Pacific Ocean and its east-central expanse.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the following are typical signs of El Nino:

  • Warmer than average temperatures over Canada (western and central regions)
  • Warmer than average temperatures over the U.S. (western and northern regions)
  • Wetter than average conditions over the U.S. Gulf Coast and Florida
  • Drier than average conditions over the Ohio Valley and Pacific Northwest

"The presence of El Nino can significantly influence weather patterns, ocean conditions, and marine fisheries across large portions of the globe for an extended period of time," states NOAA.

El Nino typically lasts for nine to twelve months, but sometimes this weather cycle lasts for years, contributing to drought conditions in some areas and flooding in others. On average, an El Nino climate cycle occurs every two to seven years.

How to Prepare for El Nino this Year

This year, it's predicted that El Nino will bring significant rainfall. While some areas are in desperate need of rain, too much can become a problem. The LA Times reports that "while there is a chance precipitation will be only moderate, there is also the possibility of powerful, drenching rainstorms that can quickly create trouble on many fronts."

Fortunately, there are ways to prepare your home for El Nino and its potentially powerful rainstorms.

  • Clean out and repair gutters and downspouts so rain can divert away from the home instead of pooling next to the structure.
  • If you already have standing water near your home after rainfall, check the drainage tile. It may need repair or replacement.
  • Make sure your landscaping slopes away from the house.
  • Fix leaks now. Repair any broken shingles and check the metal flashing at their connection points. Check for leaks at the flashing by spraying it with water from a hose and making sure it diverts correctly off the roof.
  • Damp basement or wet crawl space? Check the foundation for cracks and have those repaired. A wet crawl space may need a drainage pipe and sump pump in order to prevent rain flow from entering the space.
  • Install a sump pump in the basement or lowest level. If heavy rainfall arrives, the pump will work to keep water from seeping into your home.
  • Consider investing in a generator, especially if your area is prone to extended power outages.

If you live in an area that's a high flood risk, be prepared. Have an emergency kit and evacuation plan if needed. Make sure everyone in the home knows where the first aid, flood and disaster emergency kits are located and what the family evacuation plan entails. Register for wireless emergency alerts so you can stay informed.

Weather events influenced by El Nino can be unpredictable. If the unthinkable does happen and your home is hit with a flood or other type of water damage, let ServiceMaster Restore take care of everything. From initial damage assessment to water extraction, content pack out, board up and full drying and remediation, we'll handle it all so you don't have to.