Magazine article Risk Management

Coping with El Nino

Magazine article Risk Management

Coping with El Nino

Article excerpt

As the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO)--a weather phenomenon resulting from unusually warm ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean--continues to disrupt climate patterns throughout the world, a number of World Wide Web sites have been developed to explain the event and to help people and businesses cope with its effects. And with a natural interest in helping their organizations avoid weather-retated damage, risk managers can take advantage of sites offering preparation advice and up-to-the-minute reports on weather conditions just about anywhere in the world.

Factory Mutual has posted an in-depth look at El Nino in a section of its Web site (http://www.factorymutual.com/contents.html) titled "is Your Company Prepared?" The site describes the effects El Nino can have on businesses, and provides tips on determining your vulnerability as well as historical loss data from previous El Nino years. For example, 80 percent of the surface water losses in Arizona and 90 percent of the collapse-related losses in Tennessee both came during the 1993 El Nino oscillation. Factory Mutual also provides preparation suggestions for floods, roof collapses, severe winds and freeze-ups, and users can download a number of free emergency planning and response documents.

One of the most comprehensive sources of El Nino information on the Web is the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory's "El Nino Theme Page" (http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/toga-tao/el-nino/home.html). By accessing this site, you can obtain descriptions of El Nino's effects compiled by scientific and educational institutions in North America, Asia and Africa. Available data include monthly temperature and precipitation updates predictions and maps for locations throughout the United States as well as examinations of El Nino's effects on the U.S. economy, agriculture, river flooding, Florida wildfires, salmon fishing and other topics. Information available for other countries and regions discusses floods and droughts in Central Canada, crop yields in Brazil and Africa, and (although not immediately relevant for most of us, but still interesting) the possible influence of severe weather on planning for military operations. Reference information available at the site describes El Nino, and its relationship with historical weather patterns, and real-time data include satellite images and reports from Pacific Ocean buoys.

An online "El Nino Resource Center" has been established at Florida State University's Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies. …

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