SAN JOSE (CBS/AP) — Californians should hurry if they want to get a head start on El Niño.

Federal emergency officials are urging Californians to buy flood insurance — even those who don’t live near creeks or rivers — as El Niño conditions get underway in the Pacific Ocean, increasing chances for heavy storms this winter.

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Roy Wright, a deputy associate administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, encouraged Californians to take the threat of El Niño seriously.

Wright said Friday that if there ever was a time to buy flood insurance “this is that time.”

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Forecasters say that January, February and March are expected to get the brunt of this winter’s heavy rainfall across California.

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Wright says there is a 30-day waiting period for new flood insurance policies to go into effect.