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The Superstorm Cometh, Floodeth, Drowneth

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Photo by Sterling Davis via LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr


Photo by Sterling Davis via LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr
Move over mudslides, brush fires and earthquakes, there's a new life-threatening natural disaster sheriff in town and California's ability to tread water is likely to be tested in the wake of a catastrophic weather event that scientists are calling the "Superstorm."

The reality of the "ARkStorm: California’s Other 'Big One'" was a topic of discourse at a USGS conference with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the California Emergency Management Agency that ended on Friday. "Combining advanced flood mapping and atmospheric projections with data on California’s geologic flood history, over 100 scientists calculated the probable consequences of a “superstorm” carrying tropical moisture from the South Pacific and dropping up to 10 feet of rain across the state," reports the New York Times.

In the event of such an event CA could sustain four to five times as much economic damage as a large earthquake, up to $300 billion in damage, with as many as 1/4 of all homes damaged by flooding. But flooding isn't new news. Vast floods have long been documented via tree-ring data and historical records. According to Marcia K. McNutt, the director of the geological survey:

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150 years ago, over a few weeks in the winter of 1861-62, enough rain fell to inundate a stretch of the Central Valley 300 miles long and 20 miles wide, from north of Sacramento south to Bakersfield, near the eastern desert. The storms lasted 45 days, creating lakes in parts of the Mojave Desert and, according to a survey account, “turning the Sacramento Valley into an inland sea, forcing the state capital to be moved from Sacramento to San Francisco for a time, and requiring Gov. Leland Stanford to take a rowboat to his inauguration.”