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California Will Get Heavy Rains With El Nino, But No Drought Cure

Man working on the new roof

The forecast for this year’s El Nino weather system has many people in drought-stricken California, and elsewhere, preparing for a deluge by stocking up on emergency supplies and making sure their homes are as waterproof as possible. Unfortunately, even though California is really hurting for rain, this year’s monster El Nino may not end the drought.

On the flip side, local roofers are overwhelmed with business as homeowners look to prepare their home for what could be a season full of heavy rain. Insurance generally doesn’t cover issues with roofs due to wear-and-tear or lack of maintenance, and after four years of dry weather, roofs need to be prepared for a large uptick in bad weather.

Californians are no strangers to natural disasters — as lovely as their landscapes with mountains and seaside cliffs are, the state is also frequently devastated by earthquakes, fires, floods, and landslides. Many times, these disasters are happening simultaneously, forcing residents to be prepared for anything. For example, firefighters are currently battling several wildfires, while preparing for a wet winter season.

This year’s El Nino is already the second strongest on record, and has the potential to become even stronger as the months wear on. El Nino brings rainy weather to California and the rest of the Southeast regularly, but this year’s strength means there will likely be heavy rains consistently.

Adding insult to injury, the anticipated rainfall will probably not reverse the effects of the four-year drought. The state would need about one and a half times the normal rainfall to get out of the drought, and that will not happen, says Mike Halpert, who is deputy director of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center. What will happen, instead, is debris, fallen trees, and flooding, according to emergency planners.

Residents across the state are getting themselves prepared in many ways. Take Palm Springs, for example, where it rarely rains; residents are on edge about the potential damages coming from heavy rain.

“They want someone to come out and tell them everything is going to be OK,” said Rob Winkle, operations manager at Western Pacific Roofing. He says the company is fielding 20% more calls than usual from worried residents.

While El Nino won’t completely cure the drought, it will certainly provide some relief — whether that relief is offset by the damage the El Nino system will do, however, has yet to be seen.

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