Experts Say 2014’s El Niño To Be Worst on Record

Get Prepared Now or Risk Disaster Later

tating 100-year drought. But as the recent record rainfall and flooding there demonstrates, things can change rapidly, especially where weather patterns and climate change are concerned.

That’s why property owners and managers throughout California, Arizona and Nevada ought to be very concerned about the record sea temperature readings across the Pacific Ocean scientists say point to a record El Niño event later this year. Just a few degrees’ rise in sea temperatures can pump massive amounts of moisture into the atmosphere, setting off a chain of events that result in warmer and significantly wetter winter weather patterns in the Northern Hemisphere. Scientists warn that while El Niño events normally occur every 20 years, climate change has increased their frequency and severity.

The last El Niño event took place in late 1997 and early 1998, and it was a record-setter. But scientists expect this year’s event to be the strongest on record. If they’re correct, our area will see massive rainfall, flooding and damage to structures — and an abrupt end to current drought conditions, just as the midwest is already experiencing.

Of greatest concern for property owners is any deferred maintenance to roof systems. The long spell of dry weather in the region has left many rooftops unable to face rainfall of any type, much less the torrential rains triggered by a new record El Niño event. How much rain might that be? In February 1998 alone, parts of Southern California received 20 inches of rain, Northern California 22 inches, and Nevada and Arizona were drenched with rainfall totals that were 250% above normal. If scientists are correct, all areas are about to see those records wash away in a new deluge of heavy rains.

The outlook for Arizona and Nevada may be particularly harsh for the months of August, September and October, when the region typically sees monsoonal rains already. NOAA has just issued a new climate prediction report, calling for at least a 40% chance of greater than normal rainfall during those months.

Are You Ready?

If record rains do materialize this year, property owners need to think ahead. Since roof systems bear the brunt of heavy rainfall, owners should have their roofs inspected now and tend to potential leakage problems immediately. The need to get ahead of this year’s El Niño is exacerbated by the fact that, when the rains do come, commercial roofers will be hard-pressed to keep up with demand. During the ‘97/’98 event, they were booked out a solid three months. When a major leak is flooding tenants’ spaces and causing significant damage to the structure, not to mention the disruption to the tenants’ businesses, waiting three months to get the problem fixed will be a nightmare scenario for many owners across our region.

Here are a few steps you can take to ensure your roof is ready for anything El Niño dishes out:

1. Get your roof inspected as soon as possible.
2. Clear any rooftop debris, make sure all drains work properly
3. Identify and repair any potential leak areas
4. Carefully inspect seams and flashings, where most leaks occur or develop during heavy rainfall
5. If your roof needs a major overhaul, take care of it immediately

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