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Thread: California may have "Superstorm" for over 40 days- $300-$400 billion in damage. (scientific report)

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    Cyburbian Plus Shellac And Vinyl VelocitY's avatar
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    California may have "Superstorm" for over 40 days- $300-$400 billion in damage. (scientific report)

    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. . .
    . . .
    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.
    . . .
    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. . .
    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.
    . . .
    Federal and state emergency management officials convened a conference about emergency preparations for possible superstorms last week.
    The above excerpts from article:http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_theloo...ter-superstorm

    TEXT of FULL REPORT
    (PDF- broadband recommended)
    "OVERVIEW OF ARKSTORM SCENARIO," by the USGS:
    http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2010/1312/of2010-1312_text.pdf

    PDF - Appendix A of Report:
    http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2010/1312/of...appendix_a.pdf

    PDF - Appendix B of Report::
    http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2010/1312/of...appendix_b.pdf


    Article's Abstract (no broadband needed):
    http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2010/1312/

  2. #2
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Seana View post
    The above excerpts from article:http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_theloo...ter-superstorm
    [SIZE="3"]
    What is interesting about the mid-1800s event(s) is that gold mining exacerbated the storms, with tailings and altered drainages changing runoff, prompting some of the first "environmental regulations" in the west. Sacramento was under water and much of old town and the residential areas east of downtown have been filled about 10-15 feet deep. Today, much of the residential areas adjacent to rivers are behind tall levees, several of which may come down if sideswiped in the right way (right, Natomas planners?).

    In the bigger picture, we already see changes in the atmosphere, leading to bigger storm events and more episodic, heavier precip. Have we listened? Have we made new disaster plans? You know the answer - of course not. Much, much more of this to come in our lifetimes. Changes are happening, now, in front of our eyes.


    Australian floods: Why were we so surprised?
    Meteorologists warned Australians six months ago to prepare for a soaking. And nobody did a thing
    Germaine Greer
    The Guardian, Saturday 15 January 2011
    ...The phenomenon is anything but momentary; the not-so-exceptional rainfall will continue, probably until the end of March. Professor Neville Nicholls, president of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, believes that "the Queensland floods are caused by what is one of the strongest (if not the strongest) La Niña events since our records began in the late 19th century". He was asked if the intensification was a consequence of global warming, and declined to comment. Other people have been rather too quick to claim the extreme weather as a direct consequence of global warming. (It will surprise many readers of the Guardian to learn that in Australia there is still a bad-tempered debate about whether global warming is happening or not.)...

  3. #3
    All that poor state needs is locusts...

    I would be its not only going to be California that is going to face these kinds of problems. With global climate change, every place is going to face these threats.

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    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Oh yeah....

    AKA the 500 year storm....on the FEMA Maps....
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

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    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I am sure Sarah Palin will say that it is the media. Science is overrated anyways.

    I guess that will just be another event that shows how FAKE climate change is...
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post
    ...I guess that will just be another event that shows how FAKE climate change is...
    I am no Sarah Palin fan, but has this possibility really been caused by the global warming?

    Even larger storms happened in past centuries, over the dates 212, 440, 603, 1029, 1418, and 1605, according to geological evidence.
    We have to be a little cautious about saying every event - drought, snowstorm, catastrophic flood, etc. - is the result of global warming.
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    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    And maybe (and IMHO likely) climate change is going on, but it is the sort of continual evolutionary change that has always been going on since the Earth first condensed from the disk of primordial dust that surrounded the then newly-born Sun - and we have little, if anything, to do with it. A minor hiccough in the Sun, a good volcano eruption and so forth and who knows what will happen....



    OTOH, these storms have been happening like major earthquakes and are a part of the area's scenery. I would not want to live in the parts of the state southwest and west of Sacramento that are below sea level regardless.

    And even deeper, someday - Yellowstone National Park will erupt again (it REALLY blows every few hundred thousand years) and evidence has shown that the last Ice Age started very suddenly - as in naturally mummified large animals from that time found with undigested food in their stomachs and forests worth of trees pushed over by the advancing glaciers or by that storm itself.



    Mike

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mgk920 View post
    And maybe (and IMHO likely) climate change is going on, but it is the sort of continual evolutionary change
    Mike
    No. Basic physics works here on earth too.

    Basic physics notwithstanding, fortunately decision-makers know this 'climate change has always happened, where was the SUV 1 million years ago...' talking point is false. Whether they can overcome energy industry lobbies to actually do something is another matter entirely.

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    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    We have to be a little cautious about saying every event - drought, snowstorm, catastrophic flood, etc. - is the result of global warming.
    I agree we need to be cautious. But I personally think that pretending like crazy stuff isn't happening to our planet is just stupid. You can argue that it isn't global warming or that this is man made. I can understand that argument. But closing your eyes and pretending nothing is happening is ignorant. If this storm actually ever happens I don't think it will be because it was just "time" for it to happen. It will have been caused by some change in our climate that made it happen. Whether that is man made or nature made...does it matter?
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post
    I agree we need to be cautious. But I personally think that pretending like crazy stuff isn't happening to our planet is just stupid. You can argue that it isn't global warming or that this is man made. I can understand that argument. But closing your eyes and pretending nothing is happening is ignorant. If this storm actually ever happens I don't think it will be because it was just "time" for it to happen. It will have been caused by some change in our climate that made it happen. Whether that is man made or nature made...does it matter?
    I didn't mean to suggest that these events would not occur. They will, and yes, whether natural or induced by human activity, we will have to deal with the risk and consequences. These storms hit California about every 150 years, and there is a record going back thousands of years. That suggests to me that an argument that "

    As for global warming.... First of all, it is a theory. Science is all theory. We accept or reject the theory based on our interpretation of the evidence, until new evidence comes along to make us change our minds. That said, I beleive there is merit to the theory. The world's climate is constantly changing, and individual events, such as MGK's volcano, can accelerate change in the short term. Human activity can have the same kind of short term impact. But we cannot attribute the latest hurricane, earthquake, chilly temperature, or any other continually recurring event to human impact on the environment.
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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    I am no Sarah Palin fan, but has this possibility really been caused by the global warming?

    We have to be a little cautious about saying every event - drought, snowstorm, catastrophic flood, etc. - is the result of global warming.
    Well, the scientists conducting this research are indeed saying that global warming is the cause of the increased risk for these storms. One can quibble about the reasons for the earth's atmosphere warming (man made or not), but the phenomena they are studying and the predictions being made are primarily because of this increases in temperature.

    Rising temperatures in the atmosphere and oceans are what make these weather patterns more volatile in the first place.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    The world's climate is constantly changing, and individual events, such as MGK's volcano, can accelerate change in the short term. Human activity can have the same kind of short term impact.
    What we can do for the public and policy is sharpen this oversimplification. That is: modern, agrarian societies of mankind arose in a period in the Holocene that has been remarkably stable. When our activities take this stabilty away, there is absolutely zero precedent that we can fall back on - we will be more vulnerable, not less.

    We cannot manage our affairs well in stable times. What will happen in increased instability? We don't care for migrants now - what will happen when their numbers triple as they abandon areas that can't support their agriculture?



    It is our responsibility to make this clear for our communities.

    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    But we cannot attribute the latest hurricane, earthquake, chilly temperature, or any other continually recurring event to human impact on the environment.
    But we can make it clear to our communities that adding more energy in the system (what we have done during the Industrial Revolution) makes such events more likely. And we can not only expect more of these events, but more damage as human numbers and structures continue to increase and become even more vulnerable.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    quite independently of climate change adaptation and the like, CA cities have something of a tendancy toward Ostriche disease (keep head in sand). Development on the San Diego River is a case in point. The floodway is bigger upstream than downstream and new development is permitted well within the 100 yr flood plain (and the 20 year floodplain in some instances). It's not even like this stuff is in danger from a megastorm of the type described. There's actually widely distributed existing footage from the early 20th century showing the entire valley wall to wall with water (dug up every time there's been a major flood, every 10 or 20 years or so). Despite this rather clear evidence that this condition is possible for a centennial storm, never mind a mega-storm, they're still building away. There's something like 30,000 living in the valley now (despite the pleas of no less a planning personage than Kevin Lynch, in the late 60s and early 70s to keep the valley pristine), not to mention several huge malls and many of the city's hotels (one of which was lost last month), its football stadium (which completely flooded in December last year), and a huge amount of commercial office stock. In the December 2010 storm, 900 homes were evacuated and many damaged.

    And yet.. anytime anyone raises alarm bells, they're told by angry citizens that it's the responsibility of the city and state to build appropriate infrastructure to harden the river against such flood damage and to "protect private property" (even if we had the money to build the type of levees they demand, how do you safely harden a narrow river for nearly 40 miles, running through a canyon?).. but that under no circumstances can the government stand in the way of private property rights. That is, it is somehow the obligation of the government to protect the people's right to greedy development, changing a few laws of physics in the process and putting people's lives at risk as a consequence... never mind climate change, under histiorical conditions. As it is, pretty much any 3 days of consecutive rainfall breaks the banks, washes away roads, creates dangerous flood rapids and requires people to use paddle boats to evacuate from their apartments. There's about a 15% chance each year of such a minor storm.

    Private property rights to build in a flood plain? When I raised the issue a few years ago in an article I wrote, you should've seen the hate-mail I received from 'bagger types. I've advocated for gay marriage and for immigration reform with no negative feedback at all, and I get threatened 'cause I calmly suggested that the city needs to revisit its land-use approach to the valley... as does virtually anybody else who complains about the issue. It's like: yes, with statistical certainty, you will lose your house to water yet you insist that it is yuor right to build there and that it is the government's responsibility to protect you against, well, nature and God.

    I don't know what this means for preparing for the megastorm, but it does show some of the political constraints against being appropriately disaster resilient.
    Last edited by Cismontane; 24 Jan 2011 at 9:47 AM.

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    Private property rights to build in a flood plain? When I raised the issue a few years ago in an article I wrote, you should've seen the hate-mail I received from 'bagger types. I've advocated for gay marriage and for immigration reform with no negative feedback at all, and I get threatened 'cause I calmly suggested that the city needs to revisit its land-use approach to the valley... as does virtually anybody else who complains about the issue. It's like: yes, with statistical certainty, you will lose your house to water yet you insist that it is yuor right to build there and that it is the government's responsibility to protect you against, well, nature and God.

    I don't know what this means for preparing for the megastorm, but it does show some of the political constraints against being appropriately disaster resilient.
    I am quite certain we as a species cannot handle our affairs, and expecting someone or something to 'handle' it is a pipe dream. But thanks for the reminder of the delicious irony about the TeaPurty and expecting the gummint to save them. Perfect.

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I beleive it is the responsibility of government to listen to citizens and respond to their concerns. In the case of the San Diego River floodway, I would:
    1) Commission a study to determine what would be needed to prevent flooding, and how much it would cost.
    2) Propose a special taxing district comprised of those properties that would receive protection, amortize the billions of costs over 30 years, and put it to the voters of those areas whether they wanted to pay for their own protection.
    3) Ensure that the city made a decent effort to recover their bodies after the flood washes them and their unprotected homes away.
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  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    Off the topic of CA for a bit, this recalls a conversation I had with the planning and public safety directors of a low-lying Northeastern town exposed to the Atlantic with development on barrier islands. They were complaining about all the new NYS flood mgmt rules preventing waterfront development, saying that they lacked the technical capability and money even to track compliance. So we shifted the conversation away from compliance and toward their contingency planning. Are people still allowed to build there, on their barrier islands? 'Oh of course they are. The one thing we can't touch is changing zoning. They'd kill us. Torches and pitchforks.' In other words, they were empowered only to process applications.. not to have a view on 'em. And what happens in the event of direct Cat 2 storm strike when all those people on the barrier will be under 20 feet of surge? 'We'll never get to them. And most of them won't evacuate either. You know, this is not a subject we like to talk about around here. People get very quiet when it's brought up. Let's change the subject.'

    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    Ensure that the city made a decent effort to recover their bodies after the flood washes them and their unprotected homes away.
    Generally speaking, I'm pretty much convinced that the only reason why the storm impacts on US cities and communities have been as minimal as they have over the last few decades (other than Katrina) is that storms have been giving us an unusually wide berth, solely out of either luck or divine will or something. It certainly isn't because we're adequately prepared for them. The keep-your-fingers-crossed approach to urban planning.
    Last edited by Cismontane; 24 Jan 2011 at 4:28 PM.

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    If it happens then would be the greatest loss of all time to California. Last time it suffered a loss was when the fire broke up and burned down half of California State. May god have mercy on America after it got hit by the dangerous storm sandy.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally posted by Seana View post
    The above excerpts from article:http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_theloo...ter-superstorm

    TEXT of FULL REPORT
    (PDF- broadband recommended)
    "OVERVIEW OF ARKSTORM SCENARIO," by the USGS:
    http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2010/1312/of2010-1312_text.pdf

    PDF - Appendix A of Report:
    http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2010/1312/of...appendix_a.pdf

    PDF - Appendix B of Report::
    http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2010/1312/of...appendix_b.pdf


    Article's Abstract (no broadband needed):
    http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2010/1312/

    A 40 day storm? How is this even possible? Wouldn't the jet stream move after only a few days? How does a single low pressure system / storm / whatever just stay in place for six weeks straight and continue to pour rain and wind on a single area?

  19. #19
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jazzman View post
    A 40 day storm? How is this even possible? Wouldn't the jet stream move after only a few days? How does a single low pressure system / storm / whatever just stay in place for six weeks straight and continue to pour rain and wind on a single area?
    There is evidence that such storms have happened in human history since the start of agrarian societies, perhaps 3-8 times in the past couple thousand years. The geological record terrestrially and some evidence in the continental shelf record supports it. All of Sacramento was raised several feet in the 1860s as the result of a similar storm (and gold mining altering water courses).
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  20. #20
    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    There is evidence that such storms have happened in human history since the start of agrarian societies, perhaps 3-8 times in the past couple thousand years. The geological record terrestrially and some evidence in the continental shelf record supports it. All of Sacramento was raised several feet in the 1860s as the result of a similar storm (and gold mining altering water courses).

    I seriously thought 40 day long storms was just the stuff of biblical myths / legends. If there's any place on Earth that experiences 40 day long storms, even if it's only once every couple of centuries, people should just not live there. Period.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jazzman View post
    I seriously thought 40 day long storms was just the stuff of biblical myths / legends. If there's any place on Earth that experiences 40 day long storms, even if it's only once every couple of centuries, people should just not live there. Period.
    I hear you. Pretty sure 40 days is on the long tail of the distribution, though. But what they are saying is that the tail is going to get fatter, increasing the overall risk; IIRC the storms mentioned upthread that flooded Sacramento were about three weeks in duration, so even shorter periods of rain have high risk of great loss. BTW, we see a clear increase in the number of weather-related disasters over the past several decades on a global scale, so this isn't wild speculating, this is probability and appropriate public response. Can our society actually take action for risks in the future, or are we doomed to endure ever-increasing risks for recurring disasters? [/gloomy ecologist]

    As for the time period for recurrence of disaster, if humans can only live in places that get disasters on a schedule of once every 2-4 centuries, our population will plummet quickly, as there are few places on the planet with such return intervals. And many of those places aren't suited for agriculture (this will make all the sustainability planners' jobs much easier, admittedly).
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  22. #22
    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    As for the time period for recurrence of disaster, if humans can only live in places that get disasters on a schedule of once every 2-4 centuries, our population will plummet quickly, as there are few places on the planet with such return intervals. And many of those places aren't suited for agriculture (this will make all the sustainability planners' jobs much easier, admittedly).


    Well sure, but I meant 40 day storms every couple of centuries, not hurricanes or snowstorms like what we get every year in the U.S. and other parts of the world.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jazzman View post
    Well sure, but I meant 40 day storms every couple of centuries, not hurricanes or snowstorms like what we get every year in the U.S. and other parts of the world.
    Well, the storms in question are in the possibility for distribution for every several centuries, depending on how much more warming we get, sea level rise, etc. But my point just above was that the storms that caused Sacramento to be raised were ~ half that, which falls into your criterion above. Those types occur every couple centuries, and when I lived in Sacto I was near a levee that was close to failing in a ~"100 year" storm . The one we just had here in Colo was likely in a 1000 year distribution, exacerbated by our building in canyons (these canyons being the only way to get into the mountains, too). That's the problem with infra and risk - what do you harden to? That's really what this report is saying, albeit not explicitly.
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