Renowned worldwide for near-perfect weather year-round, Orange County is bracing itself for a rare bout of heavy rains and potential flash flooding brought on by an especially strong El Niño phenomenon.
This year’s El Niño could be rank as one of the three most severe since 1950, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Homeowners are scrambling to clean and repair gutters and strengthen roofs ahead of the anticipated downpour.
According to the Orange County Sherriff’s Department, homeowners and residents should be prepared for heavy rainfall, flooding and flash flooding. The Orange County Public Works Flood Division offers information for homeowners about how to deflect mudflows with sandbags to reduce potential damage.
Sandbags, hale bales, silt boards and Jersey barriers are particularly important in areas where seasonal fires have reduced vegetative ground cover. Vegetative ground cover help to fix topsoil in place and to prevent heavy rains and flash floods from turning into mudslides. The OCPW Flood Division can also recommend native plant species that are ideal for fixing topsoil after a fire.
The Orange County Sherriff’s Department and the Orange County Public Works Flood Division recommends that homeowners make an itemized list of personal property, memorize the safest route to high ground, keep a portable radio handy, and last but not least, buy flood insurance and keep copies of the policy in a safe place. The Sherriff’s Department recommends keeping cars ready to go with at least a half a tank of gas in case an evacuation is ordered.
Other recommended preparations include inspecting roofs for leaks, cleaning out all gutters and drains, putting netting and straw mulch on steep slopes and having sandbags, plywood and plastic sheeting to direct storm flow away from homes.
Sand and empty sandbags are available at most Orange County Public Works, Orange County Fire Authority and city yards. Homeowners and residents are encouraged to sign up for county emergency alerts at AlertOC.com.
El Niño events are caused by warmer-than-average water temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean. The scientific name is the El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which refers to the recurring temperature changes in the equatorial Pacific Ocean that lead to El Niño and La Niña events. During El Niño winters, the northwestern United States experiences warmer temperatures and the southeastern United States is more likely to receive higher-than-average rainfalls. During La Niña winters, cooler waters in the equatorial Pacific cause rainfall to shift and lead to the development of Atlantic hurricanes on the east coast.
Mexico and Central America usually bear the brunt of heavy El Niño rains, but Southern California catches its fair share of heavy rains during especially severe ENSO periods.
Despite the hype, Southern California is perhaps one of the most prepared regions in the country when it comes to natural disasters. Earthquakes, fires and floods, the people of Southern California have survived and thrived in exchange for some of the world’s most ideal weather conditions for nearly all the time. If you’d like to live in one of the most well-prepared paradises in the United States, contact one of our real estate professionals today.
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(all data current as of 5/25/2017)
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