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Sat Dec 1, 2012, 08:14 PM

 

Megastorms Could Drown Massive Portions of California

Scientific American:

Editor's note (11/30/12): The article will appear in the January 2013 issue of Scientific American. We are making it freely available now because of the flooding underway in California.

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.


Much more at the link: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=megastorms-could-down-massive-portions-of-california

12 replies, 1885 views

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Arrow 12 replies Author Time Post
Reply Megastorms Could Drown Massive Portions of California (Original post)
Speck Tater Dec 2012 OP
Webster Green Dec 2012 #1
stopwastingmymoney Dec 2012 #7
Webster Green Dec 2012 #12
mike_c Dec 2012 #2
Auntie Bush Dec 2012 #3
virgogal Dec 2012 #4
SoapLovah Dec 2012 #5
AnotherDreamWeaver Dec 2012 #6
Webster Green Dec 2012 #9
AnotherDreamWeaver Dec 2012 #11
progressoid Dec 2012 #8
TeamPooka Dec 2012 #10

Response to Speck Tater (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 08:34 PM

1. It's really been pouring here in Sonoma County.

I'm looking at the radar and the images are amazing.

The Russian River is forecast to reach flood stage here on Monday morning.
I'm fairly close to the river, but up high. I could find myself stranded up here though.

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Response to Webster Green (Reply #1)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:32 AM

7. Hi neighbor

I'm in east Santa Rosa and the creeks are all very full

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Response to stopwastingmymoney (Reply #7)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 11:00 PM

12. Hey there!

Looks like we dodged a bullet, and the Russian River won't reach flood stage, as was predicted.

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Response to Speck Tater (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 08:52 PM

2. raining hard on the north coast tonight....

Winds aren't bad though, at least presently.

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Response to Speck Tater (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 09:49 PM

3. Oh joy! Just what I need to know to sleep better.

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Response to Speck Tater (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 09:59 PM

4. Fantastic article---I learned a lot. Thanks for posting it.

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Response to Speck Tater (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:01 PM

5. Sacramento raised itself up a storey after that.

The I-5 was flooded already because it's lower, but in the 1860s, Downtown Sac raised the city, so these epic floods are much less frequent.

However, in very rainy years, when they must release water from the dams, parks along the American River are underwater. The last time was two years ago. Also, the Yolo Causeway becomes inundated. However, this is by design.

I can't speak for the San Joaquin Valley or the Northern Sac Valley, but I live in Sacto so I am familiar with our experience here.

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Response to Speck Tater (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:16 AM

6. Thanks, very interesting, hadn't heard of the 1861 flood

and I am a 4th generation Californian. Living here in Sonoma Co. now we have had rain for days, and looks like the Russian River will flood again. I'm on the top of a hill so no problem flooding, it's the trees down and landslides that are more of a concern. Power has gone off several times, but so far has come back quickly in the last few days.

Best Wishes everyone,

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Response to AnotherDreamWeaver (Reply #6)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:44 AM

9. Yeah, it helps to carry a chain saw when driving our road.

During weather like this, you can almost count on a tree or branch that needs to be dealt with.

Howdy neighbor!

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Response to Webster Green (Reply #9)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:13 AM

11. Hey, Howdy back.

A birch tree some friends brought us over 30 years ago was having some dieback. A branch broke out of it came down, but was easy to drag aside. Small redwood limbs off trees I planted came down, but nothing major. Was quite the wind and rain last night. Some neighbors had ditched most of the major dirt roads around here I was glad to see Wednesday, just hope they held. Beautiful day today. I found a tray of Chanterelle mushrooms and had some for dinner tonight, the rest we may cook and freeze to be sure we have some for Christmas.
Hope all held together your way.
ADW

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Response to Speck Tater (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:05 AM

8. Science schmience.

It's God's will.

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Response to Speck Tater (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 02:52 AM

10. k+r!

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