“A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves” – Marcel Proust.
Scientists and meteorologists are predicting that we are shifting into an El Niño pattern this year. While that in and of itself is not overly problematic, there’s a growing concern based on collected data that we may be shortly entering into a “Super” El Niño weather pattern. This change in weather introduces several significant issues which will have a dramatic impact on many of us in profound ways. In this video, I will explain why you should be paying attention to this to this weather phenomenon, what to expect, why it matters, and most importantly, how to prepare for it.
Before we dive into the discussion of a “Super” El Niño, we need first to explain: the transition. Following the end of La Niña last month, we transitioned into a state of “ENSO-neutral” conditions, indicating the absence of both La Niña and El Niño. These neutral conditions were originally projected to continue until the summer or early fall. They have reliably lasted that long in the past, but we are seeing some shifts in weather patterns in recent years. Numerous forecasters are beginning to indicate a change in the timeline of the weather patterns. Based on multiple data points revising their model, they are now predicting, with a 62% chance of occurrence, that El Niño will develop between May and July, replacing the neutral conditions. If not during this period, the probability of El Niño forming by autumn is even higher, estimated to be between 80% and 90%. We will know more by August, but here’s the main takeaway from this: if these weather patterns change along these projected timelines, expect all the storms, heat, cold, or wind to be of greater intensity. As we head into summer with a potential earlier start time of the El Nino weather pattern, this summer will very likely be hotter than average, which we’ll cover in just a moment. But before we do, let’s take a quick look at what these changing weather patterns will mean.
What It Means By Location
To simplify the understanding of this cyclical weather pattern, trade winds blow west along the equator during normal Pacific Ocean conditions, taking warm water from South America towards Asia and causing cold water to rise from the depths, called upwelling. However, we are now transitioning into the El Niño pattern, which weakens the trade winds and pushes warm water back east, towards the west coast of the Americas. As a result, the Pacific jet stream shifts south of its neutral position, leading to dryer and warmer conditions in the northern US and Canada. At the same time, the Gulf Coast and Southeast experience increased flooding. During El Niño, Atlantic hurricane activity tends to be suppressed, resulting in fewer hurricanes than usual forming in the Atlantic from August to October.
In contrast, during La Niña (the weather pattern we have just left), trade winds are even stronger than usual, pushing more warm water towards Asia and Australia, leading to a northward jet stream shift. This weather pattern results in drought in the southern US and heavy rains and flooding in the Pacific Northwest and Canada. Additionally, La Niña tends to cause warmer than average temperatures in the South and cooler than normal temperatures in the North during winter. It also increases the number of hurricanes that develop in the Atlantic and allows stronger hurricanes to form.
What Will Be The Impact?
The predicted ‘super El Niño’ could have catastrophic consequences for our food production. While drought remains the primary risk, El Niño can unleash a range of severe weather conditions, including heavy rainfall, flooding, and extreme heat or cold. The resulting outbreaks of animal diseases, food-borne illnesses, and plant pests could cause a significant collapse in food supplies.
Recent avian flu outbreaks have already caused a reduction in wild bird populations, leading to an explosion of insects. If we’re indeed in store for a super El Niño, we can expect crop failures, insect infestations, and plant blight to become increasingly widespread.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that we may be witnessing the end of the agricultural green revolution. Even if you don’t experience the devastating effects of wildfires, droughts, floods, or extreme weather, you’ll undoubtedly feel the repercussions of a failing food supply chain.
As a prepper, it is critical that you take action now and start getting more local with your food resources. Overall, ensuring our food supply against crop failures requires a holistic approach that involves improving our agricultural practices, diversifying our food sources, and supporting local food systems. Start growing or producing at least some of what you eat, learn to preserve and store food, and cook and eat from your preps. A super El Niño will be catastrophic for our food supply, and it’s vital to prepare for the worst. While we may have an inkling of how bad it will be this year, we should be prepping for the worst-case scenario right now.
What You Should Be Doing
You could join the chorus of experts, pundits, fossil fuel detractors, or proponents, but that won’t leave you any better prepared for extreme weather. Let me use an analogy to explain this. Let’s say you and a friend are walking on long-abandoned train tracks when you hear a train in the distance. You begin to argue with each other about when the tracks were last used, whether that really is a train you heard and whether it’s really on your tracks. After a while, you see the train’s headlight and feel the rumble of its approach in your feet, but still, you stand with your friend on the tracks and argue whether it’s a real train and when the last train came through on the tracks. There are only two possible conclusions to this story, either you prep for the coming train by getting off the tracks, or you get run over arguing about when the last train came through.
Unlike your great-grandfather, you probably flip a switch for your electricity that is generated someplace else and travels across miles of thinly strung wire. Unlike his generation, you probably just turn on a faucet that connects to a carefully regulated and cleaned water supply instead of lugging pales from the well spigot. Unlike those who lived a century or more ago, you probably don’t grow and raise most of your food but instead, have it shipped hundreds of miles to electrically cooled refrigerators in grocery stores that have less than 72 hours’ worth of food for a fraction of the population in their vicinity. If the system you live in now experiences one of your ancestor’s significant weather events or one that’s even bigger than anything they experienced, expect everything to fall apart and stay broken for quite some time.
So, to answer the question of what you should be doing–you should be prepping as if you are walking on abandoned train tracks and you hear a train coming. You should be prepping to put in place the resources that your ancestors put in place to make it through their uncertain times. Stored food and water is a start. Being able to produce some of your own energy after a disaster or prolonged down period is an added plus. Having basic medical skills and kits to endure whatever disasters a super El Nino can throw at you will put the odds back in your favor.
Prep What Fails
When flood conditions occur, it’s not uncommon for sewage or chemicals to contaminate water supplies. You should have the means to filter and treat water, but you should also have stored water. Not to sound the train whistle for you again as a warning, but just last week, Fort Lauderdale, which normally receives 70 inches of fresh rain every year just received more than 25 inches of rain in 6 hours. The city is warning that “Some residents may see water backing up due to pressure building in the sanitary sewer lines. This is called surcharging and is caused by the flooding.” Even when there’s plenty of water, you must have water you can actually drink and use. Some assume because they have a water source nearby, such as a river or well, that they’ll simply be able to utilize this option. But when it becomes contaminated, it may be beyond your ability to process it. This is why storage is so important.
When these extreme weather events occur, you can’t run to the grocery store and pick up what you need for dinner. After the deadly Buffalo blizzard just four months ago, many families were scrambling to find food to feed their families. Others had so much food that they opened their doors and fed hundreds of desperate people. Which will you be when the storm comes?
Think about all the little services you depend upon, from electricity to cook or for light to see to urgent care or an emergency room to patch you up when you are injured. Imagine those services are gone– no firefighters, police, or EMTs can reach you. What basics do you need to prep to survive for a few days until services are restored? Minimally, put that in place. Ideally, prep for a couple of weeks or months on your own. I’ve got several videos that cover these issues, from water storage to filtration, food storage to cooking, and generators to off-grid renewables. I’ll put links to those playlist below.
As these weather patterns shift ahead of schedule, make sure you adopt a long view of them and how they can instantly and dramatically impact your life. Prep for the most obvious things that will befall you. In this case, it’s the extreme weather that will happen to you. It will likely be experienced by you far worse than your great-grandparents experienced anything similar. If you have ever heard their tales of how they survived, why would you think something similar or worse couldn’t happen again?
As always, stay safe out there.
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