12 Ways West Coasters Can Prepare for El Niño

12 Ways West Coasters Can Prepare for El Niño

The 2015-2016 El Niño is predicted to be one of the strongest in recorded history. In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been reporting concerns about El Niño since August, and there is an 85 percent chance that people throughout the Northern Hemisphere will be affected by the storm until early spring.

This phenomenon will cause unusual weather patterns. For example, the Midwest is expected to have a warmer and drier than average winter, but areas on the East coast such as Georgia are highly likely to experience the opposite effect. Meanwhile, individuals living on the West Coast need to be particularly attentive to this winter’s weather due to potential prolonged periods of rain, flooding and mudslides. Fortunately, there are some tips that West Coasters can utilize to help minimize their risk of suffering from any El Niño related losses.

1. Understand How an El Niño Works

At its most basic level, an El Niño is nothing more than a temporary climate change that occurs in the Pacific Ocean near the equator. This results in warmer ocean temperatures, which affects the atmosphere. Additionally, thunderstorm activity moves eastward along the equator. An El Niño can last for up to one year, but the weather changes that accompany it will usually have the biggest impact on the West Coast from the winter through the early spring.

Throughout the El Niño season, the winds over the Pacific Ocean become weaker, and this helps the surface temperature soar even higher. Ultimately, each El Niño does not stop until it reaches the coast of Asia and is then reflected back toward its origin point. As this happens, the ocean’s surface temperature returns to normal.


2. Stock up on Essentials

The 1997-1998 El Niño is currently the strongest on record, and it caused devastation throughout California. In only one month, downtown Los Angeles received 13.68 inches of rain, which is close to the area’s typical annual rainfall amount. Flooding and mudslides led to several fatalities, and they also made it difficult for people to go shopping for essentials.

Instead of allowing yourself to be caught off guard during this El Niño, it is imperative to take advantage of the current predictions by stocking up on food, water and medical supplies. Be sure to purchase non-perishable items that can be eaten during an extended power outage. Taking this step now may help your family survive.

3. Learn Your Area’s Evacuation Plan

If you live on the West Coast, you are most likely familiar with emergency evacuation routes, but it is still a wise idea to double-check on the plan that is in place for your area. Remember that mudslides and landslides are a common problem when a lot of rain falls within a short period of time. Certain roads and residential areas are at the highest risk, so you may need to use an evacuation route to reach safer ground.

4. Review Your Insurance Policy and Add Any Necessary Riders

Most people do not have the necessary amount of insurance coverage to mitigate all of their losses during a flood or mudslide. Mercury Insurance crunched some numbers from the 1997-1998 El Niño. According to Mercury Insurance, the storm caused a stunning $550 million in damages in California alone. To make matters even worse, the average cost per homeowner was $1,288. Unless you review your policy and make any needed changes now, you could end up responsible for more than $1,900 in damages due to inflation.


5. Perform Any Necessary Exterior Home Repairs

Are your gutters hanging by a thread? Perhaps you have a leak or some loose roof shingles that you keep meaning to secure. If this is the case, you need to take action immediately to protect your home. Any exterior issues that are left unrepaired will give water easier access to the inside of your house, and the intense rain that can be expected could easily cause loose shingles and gutters to fall apart.

6. Purchase a Generator

More than 1 million California residents lost power during the 1997-1998 El Niño, and this has caused local power companies to put new plans in place for the next major storm event. However, this does not mean that you can expect your lights to stay on. Instead, it is better to take precautions by investing in a generator. This will allow you to avoid waiting several days for assistance if the power goes out in your neighborhood.

7. Take Your Car in for a Check-Up

If it becomes necessary to flee the area via an emergency evacuation route, you will also need to be able to rely on your vehicle to provide safe transportation. Taking your car in for a general check-up now could easily make the difference between life and death if mudslides start happening on the West Coast.

8. Put Rain Barrels in Place to Collect Free Water for Your Garden

Environmentalists have been encouraging people in California to put rain barrels in place throughout the drought as a way to do everything from watering gardens to flushing toilets. The reality is that California has been devastated by the recent drought, and El Niño represents an opportunity to stock up on water for non-potable purposes. This can also reduce some of the strain that has been placed on the state’s drinkable water supplies.


9. Maintain Your Trees and Yard

Trees are beautiful and provide some much-needed shade, but they can also cause a lot of property damage if they are not properly maintained before a bad storm. If you currently have any limbs hanging, make sure that they are removed. You should also secure anything in your yard that could be picked up by heavy winds. You may be able to pick up free sandbags from your county to help prevent the flow of the water into your home. Doing all of this now will eliminate some of the stress and danger of prepping for El Niño last minute.

10. Back Up Your Critical Data

Any critical data that you cannot afford to lose should be backed up in multiple places. Even tech giant Google irretrievably lost some cloud data in Belgium earlier this year because of an electrical storm, a cautionary tale for everyone on the West Coast. The best way to ensure that your critical data stays safe is to back it up on the cloud and place a copy of everything on a thumb or external drive that is stored outside of your home or business.

11. Assemble Two Emergency Preparedness Kits

Having an emergency preparedness kit in your home could save your life, but what happens if you’re at work when a major storm hits? By creating two duplicate kits and keeping one in your vehicle at all times, you can give yourself the best possible level of protection from El Niño. There are many things that should be inside each emergency preparedness kit, including a dust mask, local maps, a flashlight, a whistle and enough food and water for three days.

12. Make a Family Plan for Dealing with Flooding/Mudslides

Your family should have a plan in place for dealing with any type of emergency, especially if you are not together when the situation arises. Be sure to discuss where everyone will meet if your house is no longer safe, along with alternate forms of communication. You may wish to invest in some long-range walkie-talkies and put one inside of each family member’s vehicle. It’s also vital to discuss evacuation routes and any plans that your city has put in place for evacuating people who don’t have access to a car.


El Niño season is dangerous, and the 2015-2016 event may leave West Coasters dealing with a repeat of what happened in 1997-1998. Don’t let yourself get caught unprepared. This is also the perfect catalyst for learning more about the impact that climate change has on your life. If everyone began making a concentrated effort to reverse greenhouse warming, then all of the people living within the typical El Niño path would benefit from a decreased frequency of these weather events.

Featured photo credit: Oso Mudslide El Niño/DVIDSHUB via

More by this author

Holly Chavez

Writer, Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner

How I Keep the Spark Alive in My 10 Years of Marriage 8 Psychological Tricks To Help You Nail the Interview of Your Dream Job The Ultimate Solution To Your Super Long Stay At Bathroom: Constipation Remedy. Low glycemic index foods I Promise These 10 Low GI foods can Keep You Fuller For Longer! Emotional Quotient Isn’t Just About Emotions. It Involves Numerous Skills

Trending in Science

1Science Says Screaming Is Good For You 2Weighted Blanket for Anxiety and Insomnia: How to Make It Work 3Scientists Discover Why You Should Take Off Your Shoes Before Entering Your Home 4Science Says Piano Players’ Brains Are Very Different From Everybody Else’s 5This Is Why You Should Sleep on Your Left Side (Backed by Science)

Read Next


Last Updated on June 21, 2018

Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

There are many reasons why people might scream – they’re angry, scared, or in pain (or maybe they’re in a metal band!). Some might say that screaming is bad, but here’s why science says it’s good for you.

“For the first time in the history of psychology there is a way to access feelings, hidden away, in a safe way and thus to reduce human suffering. It is, in essence, the first science of psychotherapy.” — Dr. Arthur Janov

Primal Therapy

Dr. Arthur Janov invented Primal Therapy in the late 1960’s. It is a practice that allows the patient to face their repressed emotions from past trauma head on and let those emotions go. This treatment is intended to cure any mental illness the patient may have that surfaced from this past trauma. In most cases, Primal Therapy has lead Dr. Janov’s patients to scream towards the end of their session, though it was not part of the original procedure. During a group therapy session that was at a standstill, Dr. Janov says that one of his patients, a student he called Danny, told a story that inspired him to implement a technique that he never would have thought of on his own.


How it Started

“During a lull in our group therapy session, he told us a story about a man named Ortiz who was currently doing an act on the London stage in which he paraded around in diapers drinking bottles of milk. Throughout his number, Ortiz is shouting, ‘Mommy! Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!’ at the top of his lungs. At the end of his act he vomits. Plastic bags are passed out, and the audience is requested to follow suit.”

It doesn’t end there, though. Dr. Janov said that his patient was quite fascinated with that story, and that alone moved him to suggest something even he believed to be a little elementary.

“I asked him to call out, ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ Danny refused, saying that he couldn’t see the sense in such a childish act, and frankly, neither could I. But I persisted, and finally, he gave in. As he began, he became noticeably upset. Suddenly he was writhing on the floor in agony. His breathing was rapid, spasmodic. ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ came out of his mouth almost involuntarily in loud screeches. He appeared to be in a coma or hypnotic state. The writhing gave way to small convulsions, and finally, he released a piercing, deathlike scream that rattled the walls of my office. The entire episode lasted only a few minutes, and neither Danny nor I had any idea what had happened. All he could say afterward was: ‘I made it! I don’t know what, but I can feel.’”

Delving deeper

Dr. Janov says he was baffled for months, but then he decided to experiment with another patient with the same method, which lead to a similar result as before. The patient started out calling “Mommy! Daddy!” then experienced convulsions, heavy breathing, and then eventually screamed. After the session, Dr. Janov says his patient was transformed and became “virtually another human being. He became alert… he seemed to understand himself.”

Although the initial intention of this particular practice wasn’t to get the patient to scream, more than once did his Primal Therapy sessions end with the patient screaming and feeling lighter, revived, and relieved of stresses that were holding them down in life.

Some Methods To Practice Screaming

If you want to try it out for yourself, keep reading!


  • Step 1: Be Alone — Be alone. If you live in a place that you can’t be alone, it might be a good idea to talk to your family or roommates and explain to them what you’re about to do and make sure they’re okay with it. If you’re good to go, move on to step 2.
  • Step 2: Lie Down — Lie down on a yoga mat on your back and place a pillow underneath your head. If you don’t own a yoga mat, you can use a rug or even a soft blanket.
  • Step 3: Think — Think of things that have hurt you or made you angry. It can be anything from your childhood or even something that happened recently to make yourself cry, if you’re not already crying or upset. You could even scream “Mommy! Daddy!” just like Dr. Janov’s patients did to get yourself started.
  • Step 4: Scream — Don’t hold anything back; cry and scream as loud as you can. You can also pound your fists on the ground, or just lie there and scream at the top of your lungs.

After this, you should return your breathing to a normal and steady pace. You should feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted off of you. If not, you can also try these other methods.

Scream Sing

Scream singing” is referring to what a lot of lead singers in metal or screamo bands will do. I’ve tried it and although I wasn’t very good at it, it was fun and definitely relieved me of any stress I was feeling from before. It usually ends up sounding like a really loud grunt, but nonetheless, it’s considered screaming.


  • Step 1 — Bear down and make a grunting sound.
  • Step 2 — Hiss like a snake and make sure to do this from your diaphragm (your stomach) for as long as you can.
  • Step 3 — Breathe and push your stomach out for more air when you are belting notes, kind of like you would if you were singing.
  • Step 4 — Try different ways to let out air to control how long the note will last, just make sure not to let out too much air.
  • Step 5 — Distort your voice by pushing air out from your throat, just be careful not to strain yourself.
  • Step 6 — Play around with the pitch of your screams and how wide your mouth is open – the wider your mouth is open, the higher the screams will sound. The narrower or rounder your mouth is (and most likely shaped like an “o”), the lower the screams will sound.
  • Step 7 — Start screaming to metal music. If you’re not a huge metal fan, it’s okay. You don’t have to use this method if you don’t want to.

If you want a more thorough walkthrough of how to scream sing, here’s a good video tutorial. If this method is too strenuous on your vocal chords, stop. Also, make sure to stay hydrated when scream singing and drink lots of water.

Scream into a pillow

Grab a pillow and scream into it. This method is probably the fastest and easiest way to practice screaming. Just make sure to come up for air.


Always remember to make sure that you’re not going to disturb anyone while practicing any of these methods of screaming. And with that, happy screaming!

Featured photo credit: Sharon Mollerus via

Read Next