A recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center report stated that this year’s El Niño is significant and strengthening.
According to many news and weather reports, this winter’s El Niño could be one of the strongest in the past 50 years. “This is as close as you're going to get to a sure thing,” said Bill Patzert, a climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Furthermore, a recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center report stated that this year’s El Niño is significant and strengthening, and “there is a greater than 90% chance that El Niño will continue through the Northern Hemisphere 2015-2016 winter, and around an 85% chance it will last into early spring 2016.”
While the speculation continues to grow, there are steps your clients can take to prepare for El Niño.
What is El Niño?
El Niño is the name associated with a band of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central Pacific near the equator. The weather phenomenon made headlines during the 1997 El Niño when it caused devastating flooding in the western U.S. CNN recently reported that the waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean have been heating up, building towards what could be another strong El Niño event that could rival the intensity of the record 1997 event.
Winters, during the El Niño effect, are warmer and drier than average in the Northwest, northern Midwest, and upper Northeast United States, so those regions experience reduced snowfalls. Meanwhile, significantly wetter winters are present in northwest Mexico and the southwest United States, including central and southern California, while both cooler and wetter than average winters in northeast Mexico and the Southeastern United States occur during the El Niño phase of the oscillation.
So what does this mean? First and foremost, it is imperative that your clients recognize that this event has happened before and it is about to happen again. If you have clients in the Southwest U.S., flooding and mudslides will likely occur and should be a cause for concern.
Preparing for El Niño Flooding
While flood is one of the most costly natural hazards in the world, at AFM we believe your clients don’t have to be vulnerable to flood loss. There are some proactive steps your clients can take to prevent or mitigate flood damage.
First, it is critical to have a plan. The easiest way to minimize your clients’ exposure to flooding is to identify the exposures and relocate outside of (or not move to) a high hazard flood plain, if possible.
For clients that are already located in or near a floodplain, we recommend relocating high-value and/or critical items, such as stock, supplies and important records or plans to buildings that are not exposed to flood.
To help protect your clients’ facilities from flood, there are several new products on the market—such as curbing and flood gates. Check the FM Approval Guide for reliable manufacturers.
Implementing a Flood Emergency Response Plan (FERP) can have a tremendous impact on mitigating food loss to your client’s businesses. An effective FERP is a documented plan of actions that the client will take if a flood is imminent. When clients effectively execute their documented FERP, our loss history shows clients experience losses that are three and a half times less severe than those without one.
As the potential fury of the 2015/16 El Niño is almost here, it is important to remember that if you have a client in or near a floodplain, they do not have to be a victim of flood. There are solutions that your client can implement and AFM is available to help. Please contact your AFM account engineer for more information on physical flood protection and visit our website for some simple ideas on developing a FERP.