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Scientists say a plausible California superstorm that could devastate the state would be fed by an "atmospheric river" moving water at the same rate as 50 Mississippi rivers discharging water into the Gulf of Mexico.
Scientists who study historic storms to understand the risks modern California faces discussed on Friday a developing scaling system to measure the intensity of an atmospheric river — a huge hose-like flow of Pacific Ocean moisture into the state. A storm scenario released by the U.S. Geological Survey this week says such a storm has the potential to cause flood damage to a quarter of the houses in the state.
US Geological Survey scientists predict that the storm could last 40 days, producing up to 10-feet of rain and causing £190 billion ($300 billion) worth of flooding damage, which would make it the most destructive storm in California's modern history. National Weather Service images show an atmospheric river system - a huge hose-like flow of Pacific Ocean moisture - moving onto the state increasing the risk of the winter weather phenomenon. The storm scenario, combining prehistoric geologic flood history with modern flood mapping and climate-change projections, was released at an ARkStorm Summit in Sacramento, California last week.
ARkStorm: California’s other "Big One"
Released: 1/14/2011 3:00:00 PM
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — For emergency planning purposes, scientists unveiled a hypothetical California scenario that describes a storm that could produce up to 10 feet of rain, cause extensive flooding (in many cases overwhelming the state’s flood-protection system) and result in more than $300 billion in damage.
The "ARkStorm Scenario," prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey and released at the ARkStorm Summit in Sacramento on Jan. 13 – 14, combines prehistoric geologic flood history in California with modern flood mapping and climate-change projections to produce a hypothetical, but plausible, scenario aimed at preparing the emergency response community for this type of hazard.
The USGS, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the California Emergency Management Agency convened the two-day summit to engage stakeholders from across California to take action as a result of the scenario's findings, which were developed over the last two years by more than 100 scientists and experts.