Whether you have heard about El Niño from a friend, from the news, or even from an overheard debate about just how bad it is going to get, if you own your own home or property then you definitely need to wise up. As well as bringing a huge amount of crazy weather that could really impact the places that you live and work in, it can also dramatically change the daily weather for a full season, and if you want to be able to protect your properties, then you need to understand El Niño – especially as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (or NOAA) have calculated that there is a 95% chance that El Niño will push its way up to the Northern Hemisphere right through the winter of 2015 – 2016.
So what exactly is El Niño? Well, it is a regular weather pattern that happens every few years that can bring a huge amount of disruption to many different countries the world over. Technically, there are two forms: El Niño, and La Niña, and there is one key difference. El Niño is created because of very warm ocean temperatures, beyond that which is normal, and La Niña is formed due to very cold ocean temperatures. As the weather systems get stronger and stronger, you can quickly find that El Niño brings a huge amount of rainfall to the south of the US, which causes terrible flooding, and at the same time creates droughts in the West Pacific.
Now is the time to act if you want to prepare your properties for the onslaught that is El Niño. That is one of the few benefits of El Niño – you will always get a little bit of time beforehand so that you can make any checks or changes to your properties.
As we move into winter, you should have a full inspection of your roof and gutters, to ensure that they are not going to leak. You should also talk to your insurance company if your property is situated near a large body of water, such as a lake, river, or even a large amount of groundwater! Having flood insurance will be key for you if this is the case, because even if you have not been flooded before, El Niño is that much more unpredictable, and you want to be prepared for the worst. Make sure that you understand precisely what is covered by your flood policy.
There will be a huge amount of information that your insurance company will need in order to accurately assess what your flood policy should be. For example, they may ask whether you have a back up generator or not, whether your property has any history of flooding in the past, and whether you have made any improvements to the property in the last five years. You may want to include details such as the presence of pumps in the basement, if you have any, as that information could reduce the premium that you pay.
In many countries, the presence of an El Niño weather system could mean that the normal transition from autumn to winter could be delayed – but in others, that will just mean that your winter will last even longer than normal. That means that you could be looking forward to freezing pipes all the way through January and February, but also into March and April as well. Heavy snow fall could potentially occur for much of those months as well, so it is vitally important that you take an inventory of your home and outdoor items so that, should the worst happen, you know exactly what you have lost.
There are many things about El Niño that few people would consider, such as the fact that many areas in the country have laws that will require you to keep the sidewalk and your drive as ice and snow free as possible, so you could have the get the shovel out on a regular basis. Of course, it is always safer if your driveway and the sidewalk outside your house are safe to walk on, so even if your local area does not require this, it may be a good idea anyway.
For those out there who rent or lease property, rather than simply owning it, then it is the person who owns the property who is ultimately responsible for what happens to it, but if you are considered to be negligent then it could very easily make you liable for costs and reparations. That is why you should make sure, during El Niño season, that you keep a close eye on the way that the property is responding to the strange weather, so that anything that needs to be can be repaired as soon as possible.
When it comes to keeping a roof over your head, there are many things that you can do to ensure that El Niño will not get the better of you. To start with, assess the extent that trees and their branches go over your roof, because you will want to ensure that they are completely secure and will not fall down in high winds, thick ice, or heavy snow. After that, give your roof a good going over by a professional, so that they can tell you whether or not you need repairs done to keep it water tight. Particular things that you should look out for on flat roofs include surface bubbles or missing gravel; missing or broken tiles on a tiled room; and any sort of irregularities that you do not remember always being there.
The end of the year is always a great time to ensure that you give your property or properties a good going over, and so take El Niño as a brilliant excuse to get this moving. Your contents, for example, could have massively increased just after the Christmas period, and you may need to get your entire contents insurance completely redone. You can easily keep a record of the items that you own by going around your home with a video camera – and as long as you keep that file safe, you will always be able to see exactly what you owned if something like a flood occurs. The key thing to do is to ensure that you do not miss out important areas such as your shed, as you could easily find lawn mowers, tools, and spare things such as roof cladding there – all worth a good deal.
Should the very worst happen, and El Niño hit where you life, then you need to make sure that you have an emergency plan. This is one that your family and friends can follow, so that you know that should something terrible happen to your home, you will have somewhere to go, someone to keep you fed and warm, and a way to get the majority of the important items you own out of the property safely. For example, you should always back up your computer each month and keep a copy out of the home, and you should also make sure that you always have a battery powered radio and flashlight by the exits, just in case.
San Diego residents in need of flood or water damage restoration, call (619) 376-6838.