Wet California winter is likely as El Niño is now ‘too big to fail’

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 Satellite images compare Oct. 2, 1997 and Oct. 1, 2015, show large areas of white, indicating high ocean surface temperatures, which are central to the development of El Niño. The image shows how this year's El Niño could be as powerful as the one in 1997. (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
Satellite images compare Oct. 2, 1997 and Oct. 1, 2015, show large areas of white, indicating high ocean surface temperatures, which are central to the development of El Niño. The image shows how this year’s El Niño could be as powerful as the one in 1997. (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Climate scientists say California will likely face a wet winter as El Niño continues to gain strength in the Pacific Ocean.

“There’s no longer a possibility that El Niño wimps out at this point. It’s too big to fail,” Bill Patzert, climatologist for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge told the LA Times. “And the winter over North America is definitely not going to be normal.”

Southern California now has more than a 60 percent chance of a wet winter, a 33 percent chance of a normal winter and less than a 7 percent chance of a dry winter, according to climate scientists.  

The odds of a wet winter further north are increasing as well. San Francisco has more than a 40 percent chance of a wet winter, according to the latest predictions.

With the potential growing for a record-breaking rainy season, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has several suggestions for preparing your home and possessions for when the heavy rains come:

Before the rain

  • Periodically check your property, clearing leaves and debris from gutters and drains
  • Check the roof for leaks or damage. Pay special attention to areas where separation could occur, such as around the chimney
  • Consider purchasing flood insurance. If you already have it, check your policy to make sure you have enough coverage
  • Take photos of your possessions for insurance purposes
  • Make copies of important documents (mortgage papers, bank information, etc.) and store somewhere outside the home such as a safe-deposit box
  • Stock up on sandbags or other flood prevention materials such as plastic sheeting, plywood and tarps
  • Assemble an emergency supply kit as recommended by the American Red Cross
  • Consider registering your phone number(s) so you can receive emergency messages from supported public safety agencies