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Ferocious Storms Predicted in California’s Future

January 14, 2011

That Plan ‘B’ we spoke of last week is looking like some very good advice indeed. I started my own garden this week and will be expanding it over the next couple months; I ripped out another garden yesterday – my drought tolerant plants – to make way for planting veggies and berries. With extreme weather impacting farming, it would be prudent to have one’s own garden. You can even grow in containers. We can no longer entirely rely on our network of farms, distribution, and stores. Farmers are at risk from weather changes and oil prices. Distribution and retail, the same. Oil is going up and this will impact prices. At the very least, from an economic perspective, having veggie and berry garden can help to offset costs. Rainwater recapture can be used to irrigate in the warmer months — which can come at any time as evidenced by our SoCal weather today, 75-78 degrees.

Los Angeles, CA/AP/News 8: Scientists dub it California’s “other Big One,” a series of storms capable of costing three times as much as a severe Southern California earthquake.

“These are plausible,” Dale Cox, project manager of the study, told News 8 in a phone interview Thursday. “These could happen at any time during the storm season in California.”

The storms have happened before, lasting 45 days in the winter of 1861-62. They left nearly a third of taxable land under water and caused the state to go bankrupt.

If a similar scenario played out today, flooding in the Central Valley could stretch 300 miles long and more than 20 miles wide, a report released Thursday by the U.S. Geological Survey found. The storms also could cause hundreds of landslides and serious damage in the state’s major population centers.

“Storm are less sudden, less dramatic, and thus loom smaller than earthquakes do in the imagination of risk,” the report said. “But the evidence shows these storms do pose a real risk for California, in some ways far greater than that of earthquakes.”

“There are projections the storms are going to get more ferocious and more frequent in the future,” Cox added.

A team of 117 scientists, engineers and public policy and insurance experts worked for two years to create the hypothetical scenario. They met in Sacramento on Thursday to discuss the report.

He noted that population and infrastructure density as well as “riskier land use” exacerbated the deadly flooding and mudslides happening in Australia and Brazil.

According to the scenario, heavy rain could cause flooding in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and 50 levees could be breached. Some 1.5 million residents in inland and delta regions would be forced to evacuate.

The report details the extent of potential devastation to crops and livestock in the state’s farmlands and estimates the cost to replace them. It also considers high surf damage and erosion to the sensitive coastline, as well as the perils of debris flow and flooding to California’s roads, bridges, dams and wastewater treatment facilities.

In all, researchers estimated the losses and damages by a catastrophic storm could cost on the order of $725 billion, nearly three times the cost of a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hitting Southern California.

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