What is El Niño?
El Niño is the term used to describe unusually high temperatures of Pacific Ocean which is expected to cause California to receive above normal amounts of rain from January to March 2016. The National Weather Service predicts this season’s El Niño could be “among the top three strongest episodes” on record, bringing below average temperatures and significantly higher than average rainfall to the region during the winter months.
What You Can Do
The American Red Cross is encouraging residents to prepare their homes and property for the coming wet weather and to arm themselves with safety tips before significant storms arrive. As with any disaster, preparation can be the difference between life and death. Helpful information can be found below in preparing for the potential El Niño impacts.
Real-time severe weather alerts and safety information, all in one app. The app also includes an “I’m Safe” button to let loved ones know you are okay, and a real-time map to help you find the location of Red Cross shelters. The app has a Spanish language toggle switch. Text GETEMERGENCY to 90999 or search "Red Cross Emergency" in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
Learn the difference between an advisory, watch, or warning. Winter storms can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard with blinding, wind-driven snow that lasts for several days. Many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures and sometimes by strong winds, icing, sleet and freezing rain. Regardless of the severity of a winter storm, you should be prepared in order to remain safe during these events.
The term landslide describes downhill earth movements that can move slowly and cause damage gradually, or move rapidly, destroying property and taking lives suddenly and unexpectedly. Landslides are typically associated with periods of heavy rainfall or rapid snowmelt and tend to worsen the effects of flooding. Areas burned by forest and brush fires are also particularly susceptible to landslides.
Learn the difference between an advisory, watch, or warning. Stay away from flood waters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankle, stop, turn around and go another way. If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water. Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
Know what emergencies or disasters are most likely to occur in your community. Create and practice your family disaster plan. Decide where you would meet and who you would contact in case of disaster. Be prepared to evacuate your family and pets at a moment’s notice. Assemble and maintain an emergency preparedness kit.
In anticipation of possible disastrous repercussions from El Niño, every region of the Red Cross has been working closely with local community and government partners to develop strategies for responding to what could be a severe El Niño season. In cooperation with local government agencies and non-government organizations, the Red Cross is the leading entity that provides mass care to the victims of disasters
Moreover, we have been coordinating with Emergency Management Partners throughout the State to identify at risk areas for flash floods/runoff flooding, traditional riverine flooding and at risk areas for levy/dam failure so that resources can be quickly relocated closer to where they might be needed most. We are particularly watchful of former wildfire burn areas and zones that historically experience flooding. After a severe drought and wildfire season, our disaster teams are prepared for and understand the risk of landslides and flooding in these areas.