El Niño is certainly the talk of the town.

You hear about it almost daily on the news, and it’s a topic of conversations in coffee shops and restaurants all over Southern California.

Why all the fuss over El Niño?  Well, this famous climate cycle that happens from time to time in the Pacific Ocean can have a significant global impact on weather patterns. The cycle begins when warm water in the western tropical Pacific Ocean shifts eastward along the equator toward the coast of South America.

Some years its effects are pretty mild. And then there’s this year. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is reporting that there is a 95 percent chance that El Niño conditions will continue through the upcoming winter and will bring much needed rain and snow to the higher elevations. A lot of it, too.

While now one can predict exactly how strong the storms will actually be, it is important to realize what the potential impacts from an El Niño winter could be and plan accordingly.

You may recall that just a few weeks ago, a strong rainstorm in Lake Hughes and Antelope Valley brought more than 3 inches of rain in an hour and caused mudslides, flooding and damages to homes and roads. It was certainly an eye opener of what this winter could look like.

So being prepared—which is something we talk a lot about at Forest Lawn—is something we should all be doing in anticipation of El Niño.

One of the best resources available is and El Niño page on the Los Angeles County’s Web site. It provides storm-related resources including safety tips, weather forecasts, and information for homeowners affected by floods and mudslides. Additionally, visitors can find info guides, PSAs, and a dedicated Twitter feed of first responder agencies tweeting about this year’s storms. It is mobile-friendly and can be instantly translated into 90 languages.

Check it out—or better yet, bookmark it— at www.lacounty.gov/elnino.

While we’re on the subject of rain, be sure to check your car’s wiper blades. There’s a good chance—a 95 percent chance—that you’ll be using them a lot this winter!