Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Woody Warned Us: A Cataclysmic Californian Disaster!

Well everyone, Woody warned us in the film 2012 that mayhem and destruction was headed right for us. Well just us Californians actually. Normally whenever the USGS or CalEMA releases reports like this, we at the Central Valley Chapter sleep a little easier knowing that we are from enough away from Los Angeles or San Francisco leaving us unaffected by earthquakes and mudslides. However, this report that was released yesterday by the United States Geological Survey mentioned that California is overdue for a cataclysmic superstorm and even mentioned the Central Valley receiving ten feet of rain! Rest assured readers, that should this disastrous event take place the American Red Cross would be there, along with the help of such "Prepare"-aphernalia such as the Stormtec Sandbag. For more information on how you can be Red Cross Ready, contact your local Chapter today. Check out the full-story below!
A group of more than 100 scientists and experts say in a new report that California faces the risk of a massive "superstorm" that could flood a quarter of the state's homes and cause $300 billion to $400 billion in damage. Researchers point out that the potential scale of destruction in this storm scenario is four or five times the amount of damage that could be wrought by a major earthquake.
It sounds like the plot of an apocalyptic action movie, but scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey warned federal and state emergency officials that California's geological history shows such "superstorms" have happened in the past, and should be added to the long list of natural disasters to worry about in the Golden State.
The threat of a cataclysmic California storm has been dormant for the past 150 years. Geological Survey director Marcia K. McNutt told the New York Times that a 300-mile stretch of the Central Valley was inundated from 1861-62. The floods were so bad that the state capital had to be moved to San Francisco, and Governor Leland Stanford had to take a rowboat to his own inauguration, the report notes. Even larger storms happened in past centuries, over the dates 212, 440, 603, 1029, 1418, and 1605, according to geological evidence.
The risk is gathering momentum now, scientists say, due to rising temperatures in the atmosphere, which has generally made weather patterns more volatile.
The scientists built a model that showed a storm could last for more than 40 days and dump 10 feet of water on the state. The storm would be goaded on by an "atmospheric river" that would move water "at the same rate as 50 Mississippis discharging water into the Gulf of Mexico," according to the AP. Winds could reach 125 miles per hour, and landslides could compound the damage, the report notes.
Such a superstorm is hypothetical but not improbable, climate researchers warn. "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," Geological Survey scientist Lucy Jones said in a press release.
Federal and state emergency management officials convened a conference about emergency preparations for possible superstorms last week. You can read the whole report here.