BY: Meteorologist' Rick Dickert and Pablo Pereira
Rick and Pablo examine 'Ark' Storms in this two-part special report.
For most of us, our latest winter storm was noting more than a nuisance. It pales in comparison to some of the mega-storms that have hit our region in centuries past. Are your ready for the other Big One?
They're called 'ark' storms and they have been around for centuries here on the west coast and weather forecasters say we could be in for another one about 50 years from now.
It's a storm that could produce 400 Billion Dolalrs in damages and flood 25 percent of our state's buildings. A storm scientist are calling, California's other big one!
Not all ark storms are bad! much of Southern California's precipitation comes from these types of patterns.- we often refer to as the "Pineapple Express"
But we do need to far something like the mega-storm of 1861. Becuase currently only 12 percent of our state's property is insured for such a storm.
FROM SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN:
The intense rainstorms sweeping in from the Pacific Ocean began to pound central California on Christmas Eve in 1861 and continued virtually unabated for 43 days. The deluges quickly transformed rivers running down from the Sierra Nevada mountains along the state's eastern border into raging torrents that swept away entire communities and mining settlements.
The rivers and rains poured into the state's vast Central Valley, turning it into an inland sea 300 miles long and 20 miles wide. Thousands of people died, and one quarter of the state's estimated 800,000 cattle drowned. Downtown Sacramento was submerged under 10 feet of brown water filled with debris from countless mudslides on the region's steep slopes. California's legislature, unable to function, moved to San Francisco until Sacramento dried out—six months later. By then, the state was bankrupt.
A comparable episode today would be incredibly more devastating. The Central Valley is home to more than six million people, 1.4 million of them in Sacramento. The land produces about $20 billion in crops annually, including 70 percent of the world's almonds—and portions of it have dropped 30 feet in elevation because of extensive groundwater pumping, making those areas even more prone to flooding.
Scientists who recently modeled a similarly relentless storm that lasted only 23 days concluded that this smaller visitation would cause $400 billion in property damage and agricultural losses. Thousands of people could die unless preparations and evacuations worked very well indeed.But we do need to fear something like the mega-storm of 1861. because currently only 12% of our state's property is insured for such a storm.
Lynn Ingram's Book - 'The West Without Water': What Past Floods, Droughts and other Climate Clues Tell Us About Tomorrow is available on AMAZON. Lynn is a Professor of Geography and Earth and Planetary Studies at UC Berkeley. firstname.lastname@example.org