21 January 2011

California's "worse case scenario" - floods of Biblical proportions

At a conference in Sacramento last week, 117 researchers brought together to study flooding risks in California presented a chilling model they say could become a distinct possibility: A winter storm that brings warm South Pacific air over parts of California, creating an "atmospheric river" that could bring 10 feet of rain over 40 days, flooding large tracts of the state and bringing flood water to nearly a quarter of the state's homes...

As sensational as that scenario sounds, researchers say it's based in historical reality: Such storms have hit California before, most notably in 1861 and 1862, when floods turned a 300-mile stretch of the Central Valley into a lake...

"We think this event happens once every 100 or 200 years or so, which puts it in the same category as our big San Andreas earthquakes," said Lucy Jones, chief scientist of the US Geological Survey Multi-Hazards Demonstration Project, which created the model with the help of researchers from FEMA and the California Emergency Management Agency...
The article closes by noting that the risks of such a superstorm "increases as climate change takes hold." Ah....


  1. "As climate change takes hold".... as though it hadn't taken hold for the last few trillion years. Just caught on last week!

    An interesting and insightful bit of data ruined by the usual AGW turn tossed in (albeit subtly) at the end.

  2. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1091821/
    Noah's Ark: The New Beginning (2011)
    Animation - 2011 (USA)

    Just remember the PR companies are spinning this marble.

    Now if I could just figure George Lucas out I'd be set!

  3. I wonder if the PR companies sponsored the "scientific conference" at which the data were presented.

  4. Hm, didn't know that was a possibility. Global warming hype aside, I'm glad to hear people are looking into stuff like this. I know the local Red Cross has response plans set in case Mt. Rainer unexpectedly blows its top. And within the last year they did a joint simulation with half a dozen other disaster response organizations that featured half of Seattle fleeing a terror threat only to get stuck in a snowstorm on the highway. Not likely to ever happen, but worth spending some time on.

  5. As someone who lives in the SoCal area, it's actually not too hard to realize how that would happen: most of the area in the southern part of California is either desert or scrubland that's been reclaimed and made up as front lawns, golf courses, and much of the like; very little of the actual native plant species (aside from the occassional California oak) still exist in many towns and cities. We did have some problems with water and drought causing fires sometime ago, but with the rains came mudslides, and some flooding.

    Thanks for this, I didn't even hear about this until now... Just as a side note, this does remind me of this phenomonon that caused the Scablands area of Washington state, however, from what I've read it was most likely a megatsunami.

  6. ...from the outwash after the rupture of the ice dam at glacial Lake Missoula.


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