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Scientists Warn California Could Be Struck By Winter ‘Superstorm’

California Superstorm

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.

(A 2005 California storm: AP)

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BEER----> I'm glad that I live in Southern California. I'll have to let my cousin know though.

BELCH

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There could still very well be some serious effect on Southern California if this storm is as big as they say it is. What puzzles me is they didn't mention anything about when the storm is due to arrive.

After doing some research it appears that the storm is expected sometime in the 2011-2012 winter, not this winter, 2010-2011. One site said around January 17th. They are saying earthquakes, and one site said 10 feet of sleet.

I have to say, scientists have been warning California for many years that a catastrophe is on the way, and now it appears they know approximately when. Glad I no longer live there. Of course, Oklahoma had the dust bowl in the 30s, that pretty much wiped out the entire state. Wikipedia says:

The Dust Bowl affected 100,000,000 acres (400,000 km2), centered on the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, and adjacent parts of New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas. Millions of acres of farmland became useless, and hundreds of thousands of people were forced to leave their homes.

I sure hope our catastrophe is out of the way and we don't get repeat performance.

[url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust_Bowl#cite_note-1]

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the 'dust bowl' was as much poor land management and agricultural practices as one of drought. 'no till' farming and resting agreage has greatly reduced the chance of such a disaster happening again.

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