El Niño is here this summer so now is the time to prepare for the increased risks created by the dry, hot and windy conditions that could be on the way.

According to NIWA there is now 100% confidence of an El Niño over summer, and over 80% certainty that this event will extend until autumn 2024. Oceanic temperatures are within the top-five strongest El Niño’s in the last 80 years.

As an advice led insurer, we feel we need to do everything we can to help prepare for the potential impacts of this weather pattern.

El Niño means an increased risk of drought, fire risk and gusty westerly winds. Dry, hot and windy conditions mean an increased risk of wildfires so farmers and growers need to do what they can to prepare for a worst-case scenario.

Now is the time to prepare by doing things like clearing vegetation, creating and maintaining a ‘defensible space’ around your home and buildings, setting up water supplies, cleaning gutters and forming a plan,” says Angela.

Head to fireandemeregency.nz for information on its National Wildfire Readiness and Prevention campaign. There is a lot you can do to lessen the impact by preparing now and it will also increase your chances of navigating a major event safely.

It’s important to have an escape plan and practice it regularly with your family and your staff. Make sure your RAPID number is displayed at the end of your drive, where they are easy to see from the road and that your access ways are clear. You should also make sure you have enough water supplies available with clear signage.

Burn-offs are a legitimate land management tool but it’s important to plan them in advance and consider the weather conditions, fuel conditions and any regulatory requirements you need to meet ahead of time.

Head to checkitsalright.nz to request a fire permit. Even if you are cautious, it doesn’t completely remove the risk of fire.

With an increased risk of high winds forecast it’s important to keep trees and branches near buildings trimmed to avoid damage.

Trees and branches falling, wind lifting iron and tiles off roofs, and loose items blown into sides of houses are a common cause of these claims. A good rule is keeping branches trimmed and at least 3 metres clear of any buildings and overhead powerlines. We recommend securing any outdoor items that could become missiles in intense winds. If you notice any loose tiles or iron, repair these as soon as possible.

It’s also important to have a plan in place for windstorms if you operate an irrigator. Every year, wind remains the top cause of irrigator-related losses, accounting for 34% of FMG’s total annual irrigator claims.

The risk of irrigators blowing over is even greater in an El Niño weather pattern. Having a plan in place will ease the pressure when windstorms are forecast, and help you react to these sudden events. Your plan should cover wind prediction, who’s responsible, what needs to be done, and include regular practice runs.

IrrigationNZ and FMG agree that pointing either into, or away from, the wind remains the best way to reduce damage, as this reduces the surface area exposed to the wind. Head to fmg.co.nz/ irrigators for more on Point, Park, and Anchor.

FMG is sponsoring a podcast produced by Farmers Weekly called El Niño Watch with weekly updates on the developing weather pattern which you can find on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Other useful tools are NIWA’s drought forecasting dashboard and the Ministry for Primary Industries Preparing for El Niño page.