El Niño, Not

By Stephanie K. Jones | November 19, 2012

When it comes to weather, neutral is good, right?

Let’s hope so, as the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center (CPC) is now predicting a neutral condition between the El Niño/La Nina climate phenomena that can wreak havoc on global weather.

Reuters reported that CPC had been predicting El Niño conditions, essentially a warming of waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean that can cause a major drought in Asia, would develop gradually during the Northern Hemisphere winter. The CPC now says that development is unlikely.

In the United States, El Niño can mean increased rain in the Southwest, milder winter weather in the North, stronger winter storms in California and more storms across the southern states.

After this year of extreme weather events, neutral would be nice.

La Nina, on the other hand, cools the waters in the equatorial Pacific and tends to cause crop-killing droughts in the Americas.

Flood claims from the United States’ most recent extreme weather event — Superstorm Sandy, which devastated the highly populated Northeast in late October — are expected to reach into billions of dollars, plunging the National Flood Insurance Program further into a chasm of debt.

The NFIP expects Sandy will be the second-worst insured flood loss in U.S. history, behind only Hurricane Katrina in 2005 — which produced $17.7 billion in flood claims — Reuters reported.

While critics of the NFIP complain the program subsidizes people who live and build in dangerous and environmentally sensitive flood zones from the coasts to the Midwest, it’s unlikely that New York and New Jersey will see a mass exodus as a result of the storm.

After all, extreme weather is everywhere – hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, tornadoes, floods, hail — you name it, just about any region of the country can be hit with some kind of catastrophic event.

That’s why, just now, we need a dose of neutral, not El Niño.

From This Issue

Insurance Journal West November 19, 2012
November 19, 2012
Insurance Journal West Magazine

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