One Billion Dollar El Nino Damage Possible Says Orange County CPA


As the first days of fall have quickly come and gone we patiently wait for things to cool down as well as this winter’s El Nino to start bringing Orange County some much needed wet weather. As an Orange County CPA I thought it would be interesting to look back at some of the financial implications past El Nino winters have brought to The O.C. and Southern California.

We have all been reading and watching reports of the impending doom the El Nino of 2016 has in store. Scientists are quoted as calling this event the “Godzilla El Nino,” as well as other outlets reporting predictions of, “storms of a generation.” With these kinds of titles being broadcasted it brings back memories of the past so called “worst” El Nino years of 1982 and most recently 1997. If this is being forecasted to be more severe than these crippling events, as a community, we need to be ready. Lets take a look at what happened during past El Nino, winters.

In a normal winter Orange County receives around ten inches of rain depending on the area. To put the drought into perspective last winter we received six inches of rain. From October of 1982 to April of 1983, Southern California received 18+ inches of rain setting the records at the time as the wettest winter in recorded history. That is only a two-inch difference of what we have seen in the past 3 years combined. The 1997 – 98’ winter was even worse. Many cities in both Orange County and Los Angeles County recorded rainfall totals of 15 inches or more just in the month of February alone! With this much rain, storm surge and winds we saw major damages.

The storms from the 1982-83’ El Nino brought 1.2 billion dollars in damage to the state. Strong winds, rain and snow tragically killed 36 people and injured 481. These storms are often considered the worst weather disaster in modern California history. After what we learned from the storms of 1982 and the advancement of more modern weather forecasting technology we were more prepared for the event and less damage was sustained during the 1997 event. Many properties and cities were impacted and the state suffered from 1.1 billion in damages.

History shows, these storms do serious damage and they should not be taken lightly. 

One advantage we can capitalize on from these dry times is our ability as community to prepare our wastewater and runoff infrastructure as well as our coastlines. We have had four years of empty drainage basins and runoff basins. Lets hope our city planners and mangers take this time to remove the debris and build up the dams so we can also capture as much water as we can in preparation for more dry weather we may see ahead.

As an Orange County CPA for many years I remember how terrible and scary the stories of people losing everything to mother nature. As much as we need the rain, let’s hope we are prepared so we don’t go down in the history books as the new worst weather disaster in California history.


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