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Megafloods coming? Scientists uneasy.

Beware drought-to-deluge pattern

Oroville dam failure, February, 2017
Oroville dam failure, February, 2017

California megafloods come about once every 200 years, say some climate scientists. Another one may be due, says the publication Nature Climate Change, which predicts up to a 100 percent increase in extreme precipitation swings over California in the next seven decades.

The publication Wired published a story recently on California’s varied weather patterns. The story was picked up by the publication Mother Jones. Some history: In December 1861, Californians, in their fifth year of drought, prayed for rain. And boy, did they get it: “For 43 days rain and snow fell across the state, causing rivers to surge their banks, turning the 300 mile-long, 20 mile-wide Central Valley into an ice-cold inland sea. LA got 66 inches. So deep were Sacramento’s floodwaters that the capital had to be relocated to San Francisco. With a quarter of the economy underwater, the state was forced into bankruptcy. Thousands of people died, and no storms have come close to topping it since,” says Mother Jones.

If such megafloods come every 200 years, the clock may be ticking, says Mother Jones."By the middle of the century, a megaflood could be striking California every couple of decades,” says Mother Jones. The publication Nature Climate Change predicts up to a 100 percent increase in extreme precipitation swings across California in the next seven decades.

The drought-to-deluge pattern may be threatening now, says Nature Climate Change. From 2013 to 2016, California had the driest three years in history. Then at the end of 2016 came rainfall records, mudslides, a major bridge collapse and a failure on the Oroville Dam’s primary spillway. Months later came the 280,000 acre wildfire near Los Angeles, followed by more floods and landslides.

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Oroville dam failure, February, 2017
Oroville dam failure, February, 2017

California megafloods come about once every 200 years, say some climate scientists. Another one may be due, says the publication Nature Climate Change, which predicts up to a 100 percent increase in extreme precipitation swings over California in the next seven decades.

The publication Wired published a story recently on California’s varied weather patterns. The story was picked up by the publication Mother Jones. Some history: In December 1861, Californians, in their fifth year of drought, prayed for rain. And boy, did they get it: “For 43 days rain and snow fell across the state, causing rivers to surge their banks, turning the 300 mile-long, 20 mile-wide Central Valley into an ice-cold inland sea. LA got 66 inches. So deep were Sacramento’s floodwaters that the capital had to be relocated to San Francisco. With a quarter of the economy underwater, the state was forced into bankruptcy. Thousands of people died, and no storms have come close to topping it since,” says Mother Jones.

If such megafloods come every 200 years, the clock may be ticking, says Mother Jones."By the middle of the century, a megaflood could be striking California every couple of decades,” says Mother Jones. The publication Nature Climate Change predicts up to a 100 percent increase in extreme precipitation swings across California in the next seven decades.

The drought-to-deluge pattern may be threatening now, says Nature Climate Change. From 2013 to 2016, California had the driest three years in history. Then at the end of 2016 came rainfall records, mudslides, a major bridge collapse and a failure on the Oroville Dam’s primary spillway. Months later came the 280,000 acre wildfire near Los Angeles, followed by more floods and landslides.

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Comments
11

CA better start cross connecting its water reservoirs so that they can send water where it is needed and or add to the Salton Sea.

Those in charge of our CA Water want to keep all Water decisions for themselves since they profit from keeping water scarse!

May 1, 2018

We would not want to use the toxic Salton Sea for a reservoir. It's a giant cesspool. That would be adding good water to poison water. The gross and stinky Salton Sea needs to be drained, and filled with dirt and rock.

May 1, 2018

dwbat: Yes, but the Salton Sea is important for waterfowl and other environmentally-sensiitive creatures and causes. It is true that Salton was accidentally created. Best, Don Bauder

May 2, 2018

dwbat, According to a prominent environmental studies professor who is also the data manager for the Salton Sea, the Salton Sea "hosts the most diverse and probably most significant populations of bird life in the continental United States, with more than 400 species of birds using it as part of their migratory pattern. For many species, it's absolutely critical and many of these birds would suffer drastically" without it. So, perhaps your view is a bit narrow minded. Or, maybe you just don't give a crap about the winged wildlife whose existence depends on it.

Just my opinion.

Opinions vary.

May 2, 2018

danfogel: I agree with you on this one. Don't dismiss the environmental aspect of this controversy. Best, Don Bauder

May 2, 2018

Founder: The old battle between farmers and residents heats up again. Sigh. Best, Don Bauder

May 2, 2018

Mike Murphy: Water rates will continue going up over the long term. Best, Don Bauder

May 2, 2018

It's good to get the public and responsible jurisdictions stirred up about threats, but saying "If such megafloods come every 200 years, the clock may be ticking…" is just wrong. The practical risks of flooding are extremely complex. Like other end-of-days predictions, when it doesn't happen, it's the end of prediction. In the spirit of gross over-simplification, if I flip 100 heads in a row, the chance of the next flip being heads is… same as ever, 50/50. So while it may be true that historic, regressive analysis shows trends and tendencies, modeling future activity on a much shorter time scale is pretty iffy. Ask somebody with Qualcomm stock. What were the chances a totally unqualified and dangerous clown could become the most powerful man in the world? Still, as my mom used to say, "plan for the worst, you'll never be disappointed."

May 2, 2018

rehftmann: I do think it is good to get the public aware, and stirred up, about how it is destroying our environment. Best, Don Bauder

May 2, 2018

Don, your story highlights,again, how badly we need a massive inflow of funding for infrastructure projects both here and across the country.

May 3, 2018
This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.
Sept. 25, 2019

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