Monday, January 17, 2011


Something else to keep you up at night (especially if you or your loved ones live in California).

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) Multi Hazards Demonstration Project (MHDP) just released the results of a study called ARkStorm (the AR stands for Atmospheric River).  It's a study of what would result from a repeat of the intense California winter storms of 1861 and 1862 that devastated the central valley of California.

The idea is that policy makers, utilities, and emergency response agencies can put plans into place so that we have a strategy for dealing with such an event when it inevitably occurs at some point.

The winter storms which occurred from December 1861 to January 1862 were unbelievably intense.  The turned California's Central Valley, an area 250 miles north-to-south and 20+ miles east-to-west into a temporary lake!  They had to move the state capital from Sacramento to San Fransciso for a while.  In addition, geologists have uncovered sedimentological evidence that similar mega-storms occurred in years 212, 440, 603, 1029, 1418, and 1605.  While rare, these storms could reoccur at any time. 

Picture at left shows K Street in Sacramento during February, 1862.

The report is very interesting reading detailing what such a storm might look like and its devastating effects in terms of flooding, debris flows, infrastructure damage, agricultural effects, economic impact, etc.  We're talking an estimated 725 billion dollars worth of impact!

Some of the key findings from the report's Summary:

· Megastorms are California's other "Big One"
· An ARkStorm would be a statewide disaster
· An ARkStorm could produce an economic catastrophe
· An ARkStorm is possible, perhaps inevitable

No comments:

Post a Comment