El Niño Preparedness and Information

Planning and Preparation Essential for El Nino Conditions

With a strong El Niño on track to bring a wet winter, the City of Rancho Santa Margarita is working proactively to prepare through collaborative training and drill scenarios with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Orange County Fire Authority and contracted public works entities.

City storm drains have been cleaned, development projects are regularly inspected, and crews will be available to respond as needed during rain events.

The National Weather Climate Prediction Center is reporting a 95% chance that El Niño is on track to make a significant impact through the winter. Forecasters predict a steady rainy season from about January through April. Current conditions and predictions resemble the 1997-98 El Niño, which had a devastating impact on Southern California. 

With heavy or ongoing rain comes the potential for hazards like flooding, debris flow and mudslides, power outages, downed power lines and trees as well as roof collapses. However, there are steps you can take today to reduce the personal risks and impact on your property.

First, learn about the potential hazards that face your property by typing in your address at
http://myhazards.caloes.ca.gov/. Next, be sure to:

 1. Inspect your property for any damage now and complete any needed repairs to the roof, rain gutters, etc.
 2. Have your rain gutters cleaned and cleared of any debris that will cause them to clog when it rains.
 3. Trim your trees and bushes. The lack of water due to drought conditions has caused vegetation to become  brittle and susceptible to breakage from wind and rain.
 4. Stock up on sandbags now if you think you’ll need them. Sandbags will be available at our local fire station. Call the City of Rancho Santa Margarita at 949-635-1800 for details.
5. Take pictures of your property before El Niño hits and consider purchasing flood insurance if you live in a flood-prone area. It can take 30 days for flood insurance to go into effect.

Finally, be prepared for the risks associated with El Niño:

1. Prepare for power outages. Have flashlights, extra batteries as well as a battery and/or crank-powered radio in your disaster kit.
2. Have enough water for at least 3 days for each person and pet in your household: 1 gallon per person/pet per day for drinking.
3. Have enough non-perishable food for at least 3 days.
4. Know what to do in a flood. According to the National Weather Service, 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. Twelve inches of rushing water can carry away a small car, and 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles. It is NEVER safe to drive or walk into flood waters.

or more information, contact the Emergency Management Coordinator or call 949-635-1819.

Click here for preparation tips from Southern California Edison.

This page will be updated with news and information during storm events.