Monday, January 17, 2011

California 'superstorm'

On the 17th anniversary of the Northridge earthquake, it seems like a good time to point out the new research that says a theoretical Pacific-spawned superstorm is now believed likely to do much more damage in California than a major earthquake on the San Andreas Fault. Lucy Jones, the U.S. Geological Survey scientist that most in SoCal know as a quake specialist, is chief scientist of the USGS project that is publicizing the potential threat. Like the forecast of a Big One on the San Andreas, the storm scenario is based on analysis of past events.

The scenario, basically, is akin to two of the biggest storm cycles of the past half-century occurring back to back — 40 days of rain dropping as much as ten feet of water, fed by a massive "river" of tropical moisture in the atmosphere that lodges over the state. Very high winds, landslides and widespread flooding are part of the model, with damage possibly reaching $300 million as systems for channeling storm water become over-matched.


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