Open Accessibility Menu

El Niño and La Niña: How to Limit Damage


Temperature. Precipitation. Humidity.

All these conditions can be significantly impacted by the climate patterns of El Niño and La Niña. But what are these patterns, and what do they mean for you?

El Niño and La Niña are the warm and cool phases of a recurring pattern across the tropical Pacific: The El Niño-Southern Oscillation, or “ENSO” for short. Both El Niño and La Niña cycles can impact rain, snow and temperature in varying ways.


With El Niño, tropical Pacific Ocean trade winds die down and ocean temperatures become unusually warm, causing wetter-than-average conditions in the U.S. Gulf Coast, including Florida. Storms, rain and clouds are all likely during this climate phase in the South.

In contrast, La Niña happens when Pacific Ocean trade winds blow unusually hard, turning sea-surface temperatures colder than normal. La Niña – sometimes known as “anti-El Niño” or simply “a cold episode” – brings less precipitation and higher-than-average temperatures in the South and Gulf Coast.

La Niña winters, like those in 2020-21 and forecast again in 2022, can extend warmer, drier conditions farther into parts of the U.S., with states such as Colorado seeing overall less snowfall and precipitation.


El Niño may bring an increased risk of severe weather and rain in certain parts of the country, but La Niña also brings weather that can lead to costly property damages.

La Niña winters can spell damaging weather everywhere from the Carolinas to Colorado. Dry conditions, experts say, will further droughts and fuel devastating wildfires in areas prone to blazes. Additionally, La Niña winters led to a more severe Atlantic hurricane season.

Weather experts reiterate that no matter the ENSO phase we’re in – El Niño, La Niña or neutral – the system provides only general trends to forecast the weather. Bouts of cooler temperatures and more precipitation are possible in the winter regardless.


If water damage occurs due to El Niño or La Niña climate conditions, understand what to do to prevent further damage and help restore your peace of mind. Here are five steps to remember:

  • Water cleanup is not a DIY project. Because damage from water and bacteria growth can begin within a few hours, water restoration is not something you should attempt alone. Trained water mitigation specialists will assist you with everything from proper structural drying techniques to post-damage carpet cleaning.

  • Remember that water and electricity do not mix. Never enter a room with standing water until the electricity has been turned off. Do not use a household vacuum to remove water from the home or business.

  • Move what you can. Save what has been untouched by water by moving dry items — such as photos, paintings and collectibles — to a safe, dry location. Lift your draperies off wet carpet, loop through a coat hanger and place the hanger on a drapery rod.

  • Punch holes in sagging ceilings to allow water to drain. Drilling holes in the walls, sheetrock and/or ceilings of your home or business allows moist air and trapped water to escape quickly and can prevent further damage and potential microbial growth.

  • Clean carpet, upholstery and other damaged furnishings. Depending on the extent of damage, carpet and carpet pad may need to be reinstalled or replaced. After reinstallation, the carpet should be cleaned and deodorized by trained water restoration specialists.

By understanding the ENSO phases of El Niño and La Niña and by keeping these restoration tips in mind, you can be better prepared to protect your home and business against severe damages.

For emergency restoration services due to emergent weather, ServiceMaster DSI is ready to respond. From flooding and water remediation to wildfire and soot cleanup, our team is available 24/7/365 to restore your property – and your peace of mind. Call us in the Miami, FL, area at 954-807-9252.