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El Niño’s Coming! – What to Expect This Winter

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Predictions are just that – predictions. But, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) speaks, it may be good to listen. After all, the NOAA has a pretty good track record of predicting such meteorological phenomena as El Nino. And, with what is supposed to be the strongest El Nino on record poised to give the southern half of the United States, including California’s coastal regions, a major drenching this fall and winter, homeowners insurance may not be enough.

If past history is any indicator, the 1997-98 El Nino caused more than $550 million in damages in California from storm-related flooding and mudslides, and the 2015-2016 version is expected to pack an even bigger punch. That’s why, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is advising homeowners as well as business owners to plan for the possible worst by purchasing flood insurance as a means to protect themselves from devastating losses not covered by conventional homeowner coverage.

While a deluge might sound like a long-awaited cure for California’s chronic drought conditions, it could also potentially create havoc and destruction as the West Coast is clobbered by heavy precipitation and snowfall.

Ironically, torrential rains may benefit some while harming others. For example, ski resorts could come out as big winners if El Nino brings a record snowfall. Having suffered from lack of fresh powder and snow pack due to the lack of substantial precipitation the past few years, many ski resorts couldn’t remain open throughout the winter and early spring as they had previously. As a result, the financial repercussions were extensive.

Another beneficiary of a severe El Nino will undoubtedly be roofing companies. That said – fixing an old, leaky roof should be done prior to the heavy rains coming – not once water starts pouring into your house.

Furthermore, water-starved farmers in the San Joaquin Valley could actually benefit from plentiful rainfall as well as be harmed by it. Because California supplies almost half of all the fruit, nuts and vegetables grown in the United States, any relief would help. But, too much water could also damage or wipe out certain crops, leading to financial loss and higher prices for consumers.

Unfortunately, on the possible losing end of a long and intense El Nino could be construction companies and timber and lumber firms who depend on relatively decent weather to operate. Heavy rainfall can delay building projects and greatly complicate the harvesting of lumber for construction –related businesses.

Before you start waxing your skis and think of hitting the slopes, keep in mind your standard coverage doesn’t protect you from flooding due to an El Nino event. For that, you have to buy separate flood insurance, which is only available through the Federal Flood Insurance Program and must be in force for 30 days prior to a flood.

And, if this El Nino is potentially the most powerful on record as experts claim, even those in low-risk areas should consider the extra coverage well ahead of the storms.

According to the Department of Insurance, now would be a good time to review your existing homeowners insurance policy to make sure you have a good understanding of what is and isn’t covered when torrential rain storms cause damage other than flooding from rising waters that consume your home.

Don’t wait until the first rains from El Nino hit and you suffer damage to your home. Protect your investment be getting the best homeowners insurance quotes today?

Do you expect this El Nino to cause as much damage as the last one? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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