Could El Niño Add to California's Weather Disaster?


California was recently hit by severe storms, causing flash flooding that sent boulders, debris and mud onto many of the major freeways. In seconds, roads were blocked and many vehicles were stranded. The main artery for commuters and truckers between Los Angeles and the Central Valley was shut down. Mud and dirt covered cars and trucks, damaged homes and stranded people. These types of storms are expected to continue and many are asking if this is the sign of things to come with the forecast of a wet winter due to El Niño.

According to the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center, recent observations of ocean and atmospheric conditions across the equatorial pacific indicate strong El Niño conditions. It has been predicted that this year’s El Niño has an 80 percent chance of lasting into early spring. Even scientists point to El Niño and the warm waters its bringing, increasing shark activity off the West Coast. Some have named this the “Godzilla” El Niño as the signs seem to point to the fact that this El Niño is going to hit and hit hard.

Predictions of heavy rains would seem to be a relief for the drought-stricken state yet the prospect of months of heavy rain is causing a major concern for California residents. The effects of the drought have been devastating in multiple ways, including death and weakening of trees while the raging wildfires across the state have caused the ground to harden and lose vegetation. All of this sets the stage for considerable flooding and deadly mudslides.

For homeowners, business owners and event planners the time to prepare for such drastic weather swings is now. Homeowners should purchase flood and mudslide insurance to cover flood damage resulting from surface water, including storm surges as these are not typically covered in standard homeowner or renter insurance policies. Business owners who own and operate equipment, and event planners that are planning large scale outdoor events, such as the Super Bowl, also should review their protective policies and ensure their crisis management plans are up-to-date and ready for implementation.  

HUB risk managers can help you review your current policies as well as implement a disaster plan to mitigate the issues you may have due to the impending El Nino. California is sure to welcome rain and some return to normalcy but rain can bring with it other hazards that residents, business owners and event planners need to be prepared to handle.

Download the Flood Emergency Response Planning to be prepared for pending flooding and contact a HUB risk advisor to get the conversation going.