The recent severe weather in the Southwest, flooding in Texas, and the historic Category 5 Hurricane Patricia that is making landfall Friday night in Mexico may be a sign that these very warm waters in the eastern Pacific are already having an influence. Mike Halpert, Deputy Director of the Climate Prediction Center, said this year’s El Nino ranks right up there with 1998 and 1983.
"During these years, we saw a significant increase in the number and intensity of extreme weather events, which resulted in numerous instance of flooding. Preparation is the key to resiliency."
At a combined briefing from NOAA and FEMA earlier today, Roy Wright, FEMA’s Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation said that more than half of those who live in some sort of flood zone don’t have flood insurance. This is concerning when you consider,
"Most standard homeowner policies do NOT cover flood damage. So you need to make sure you have the coverage that you need. Folks really should start by talking to their insurance agent."
According to www.floodsmart.gov, a free tool to assess your needs of flood insurance, only ONE foot of water in a 2000 square foot home can cost the homeowner over 50 thousand dollars to repair! And since the Climate Prediction Center’s seasonal outlook calls for a greater than 70% chance of above normal rainfall this winter, Roy had the following suggestion,
"In particular for this season, even those folks in the low to moderate risk, they should buy as well. They should understand their risk, and they should look to make sure they have the right kinds of coverages."
In addition to the risk of flooding, severe weather - including tornadoes - are also more likely during El Nino winters, with the greatest influences usually occurring from December to February.
The Florida Public Radio Emergency Network will continue tracking this weather pattern and its potential impacts over the coming weeks and months.