By: Bill Waters
Published: Jan 18, 2021
California and Superstorm -- Flood risk? California is at a high risk of a massive superstorm that could flood a quarter of the state's homes. Scientists say the weather could 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.
Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey have warned federal and state emergency officials. California's geological history shows such "superstorms" have happened in the past. It's a potential event that could soon be added to the long list of natural disasters in the Golden State.
The threat of a superstorm in California 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.
Even larger storms happened in past centuries for California, 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. "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 statement.
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