Scientists warn California could be struck by winter ‘superstorm’

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A group of more than 100 scientists and experts say in a new report that California faces the risk of a massive "superstorm" that could flood a quarter of the state's homes and cause $300 billion to $400 billion in damage. Researchers point out that the potential scale of destruction in this storm scenario is four or five times the amount of damage that could be wrought by a major earthquake.


The risk is gathering momentum now, scientists say, due to rising temperatures in the atmosphere, which has generally made weather patterns more volatile.

The scientists built a model that showed a storm could last for more than 40 days and dump 10 feet of water on the state. The storm would be goaded on by an "atmospheric river" that would move water "at the same rate as 50 Mississippis discharging water into the Gulf of Mexico," according to the AP. Winds could reach 125 miles per hour, and landslides could compound the damage, the report notes.

Such a superstorm is hypothetical but not improbable, climate researchers warn. "We think this event happens once every 100 or 200 years or so, which puts it in the same category as our big San Andreas earthquakes," Geological Survey scientist Lucy Jones said in a press release. [Broken]

This document summarizes the next major public project for MHDP, a winter storm scenario called ARkStorm (for Atmospheric River 1,000). Experts have designed a large, scientifically realistic meteorological event followed by an examination of the secondary hazards (for example, landslides and flooding), physical damages to the built environment, and social and economic consequences. The hypothetical storm depicted here would strike the U.S. West Coast and be similar to the intense California winter storms of 1861 and 1862 that left the central valley of California impassible. The storm is estimated to produce precipitation that in many places exceeds levels only experienced on average once every 500 to 1,000 years.

In many aspects the ARkStorm produced new science, such as the model of coastal inundation.

Anyways, the parts I'm interested in hearing discussed, are: That, rising temperatures in the upper atmosphere have generally made weather patterns more volatile increasing the odds of this super storm occurring. How reliable such a model like (ARkStorm) would be. Is there something odd about the fact it's called Arkstorm, and that the model features 40 days of rain? What about the part where they say that ARkstorm created new science, and what do you think about the model of coastal inundation?

Also, I noticed this last year, California zoned flood classification, and the insurance in my house in particular went into a new level which dramatically increased the cost of flood insurance. So I imagine that producing a hypothetical storm model which floods 1/4 of the state will increase flood insurance profits. Is this a scam?
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ARkStorm stands for Atmospheric River 1000 Storm (k=1000).
It's meant to represent a storm that happens on average about every 1000 years.
As the other link stated, significant storms have occurred in the past: 212, 440, 603, 1029, 1418, 1605 and 1862.

Figure 11.12 of the following link illustrates what climate models predict for North America.

There are about 21 different climate models. These models predictions are in more or less agreement depending on the location, season and parameter being considered. For California, about half the models project an increase in precipitation averaging about 10% during December-February season.

Anyhow, it's not clear to me if the flood of 1862 was a 200 year flood or a 1000 year flood. Hopefully, the guys and gals regulating flood insurance can answer that question.

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