USGS enters the weather porn business with ARkStorm

click for report

It used to be enough to push worry about El Niño in the news, now the USGS takes it to whole new level. I don’t dispute the historical evidence of the 1861/62 flooding, but scaring the crap out of the public won’t really help them plan effectively. The public has already been disaster fatigued from too much climate disaster projection. Watch the video after the article. Here’s an article from the Daily Mail.

Walls of water 10ft high in a month-long mega hurricane:  California told to prepare for biblical ‘ARkStorm’

By Daniel Bates
Last updated at 4:17 AM on 17th January 2011

Scientists are now warning Californians that the long-awaited ‘big one’ earthquake could be the least of their environmental concerns.

Another more deadly threat awaits the West coast of America – in the form of a biblical ‘ARkStorm’, which could bring death and destruction on a scale never before seen.

Walls of water 10ft high, rain falling in feet instead of inches, and nine million people’s homes flooded during a hurricane-like megastorm that could last more than month.

Just the beginning: A truck and a house are buried waist level in mud after the torrential rains that soaked California in December. Scientists are warning of an even greater storm, the ARkStorm, which they say is long overdue

The every-other-century event last happened in 1861 and left the central valley of California impassable.

The cost was impossible to quantify – but should a similar event happen today the damage could total more than $300billion.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1347725/Walls-water-10ft-high-month-long-megastorm–California-told-prepare-Biblical-ARkStorm.html#ixzz1BGWFjEjg

=============================================================

OK, take a deep breath, and prepare yourself for this:

The attached comments on YouTube says:

In 2008, the USGS Multi-Hazards Demonstration Project (MHDP) brought together over 300 experts to create ShakeOut the most comprehensive earthquake scenario and the largest earthquake drill ever. Over 5 million people participated in the event.

The MHDP is now preparing for its next major public project, “ARkStorm,” a scenario to address massive West Coast storms analogous to those that severely impacted California in 1861/62. Once again, the MHDP is working with DesignMatters at the Art Center College of Design and Theo Alexopolous, Tina Chiang, and Sean Starkweather at SDF-1 to communicate the science behind the effort.

===============================================================

Here’s some evidence of the magnitude of that flood in 1862:

And the research citing that graph is here

Certainly, this could happen again. Certainly, as we’ve seen with the floods in Australia and Brazil it will be blamed on “global warming”. But, the weather history will show otherwise.

I’m not sure what, if any, mitigation infrastructure or planning would help in an event of this magnitude, but trying to scare the crap out of people with Hollywood style CGI isn’t going to help in my opinion, because it looks just like another sci fi movie.

h/t to WUWT reader Rational Debate and Chris Lydon

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78 Responses to USGS enters the weather porn business with ARkStorm

  1. pat says:

    It is always a shame when light weights with access to public information dissemination, masquerading as knowledgeable people, take the movie 2012 as ‘science’. There has been a bit too much of this lately.

  2. Ray says:

    Let me guess… computer model!

    But tell us this… where is all that water and energy coming from?

    And I thought they could do worst scenarios than 2012 (the movie).

  3. Ed Mertin says:

    1861 was right after Katla blew and a number of eruptions in Russia. Indonesia was active and even Mt. Baker in Washington.

  4. Mike Smith says:

    California has been hit by hurricanes in the past and will be in the future. I write about it periodically on my blog (for example: http://meteorologicalmusings.blogspot.com/2010/07/time-to-rethink-disaster-response.html ). When I was researching my book, “Warnings” I checked to see if there were any hurricane preparedness plans for California and the answer seems to be no.

    If it happened before, it can happen again.

  5. John Kehr says:

    The ARkStorm would be a disaster, but not worse for California than the current financial disaster. That disaster is completely man-made. The reason there are so many disaster movies for California is because everyone knows it is a disaster.

    :-)

    John Kehr
    The Inconvenient Skeptic

  6. Keith Bates says:

    Some of the floods now hitting Victoria in SE Australia are being rated as 1 in 200 years, so there’s nothing unlikely about that.

    Considering that we were supposed to be in a perpetual drought due to AGW getting a 1 in 200 year flood is quite an achievement.

  7. P.G. Sharrow says:

    45 days of rain! Even Noah only had to cope with 40. Anyone ever look at the small straits that the great valley drains through in the coast range?

  8. Ryan Maue says:

    Ugh

    “The atmospheric mechanisms behind the storms of 1861-62 are unknown; however, the storms were likely the result of an intense atmospheric river, or a series of atmospheric rivers, striking the U.S. West Coast.”

    This type of study is a re-insurance adjusters wet dream.

  9. Stephen Wilde says:

    I’d guess the cause to be a negative AO pushing the jets toward the equator combined with a strong El Nino pushing the jets poleward and the battleground over California.

    The scale of natural variability has been greatly underestimated and we have been in a relatively benign period throughput the 20th Century.

  10. BillyBob says:

    Wait …. there are weather cycles? 11/30/100 year cycles.

    And they repeat themselves?

    Who knew?

    I thought CO2 drove everything.

  11. I think it prudent to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I have spent the better part of my working life planning large mines. I men real big ones. One needs to be aware of all possibilities one also needs to consider the probabilities. A rational balance then needs to be drawn. Things like ARKStorm could be well done, rational and instructive. It could be nothing more then a poorly done “B” movie too. I think everyone needs to also keep in mind those who fail to plan or allow the plan to be corrupted by greed or neglect, think Australia, Pakistan and Brazil, if something like this gets people asking the right questions can that be all that bad?

  12. 4TimesAYear says:

    Arkstorm, NOAA……anybody else see the arrogance of this?

  13. Layne Blanchard says:

    It is particularly troubling to see they are trying to assess the impact to “ecosystems”.

    Aren’t the existing “ecosystems” the result of natural patterns of weather?

    Why would man be blowing a Trillion to circumvent this…. unless the “impact” affected us?

    Just wondering…

  14. LightRain says:

    On the other hand, think of all the jobs that will be created.

  15. Bill Jamison says:

    I recently did some research on major floods in California – inspired by the December AR event – and was suprised at just how massive the 1862 flood really was and how flood planning in California hasn’t taken into account a flood of that magnitude.

    To put it into perspective, 300,000 cfs is just about half the flow of the Mississippi River at New Orleans! That equates to almost 2.5 millions gallons per second!

    The evidence of massive floods in California’s history is unequivocal. Just like with The Big One, it’s only a matter of time before another massive flood strikes.

  16. Darell C. Phillips says:

    Surf’s up!
    The new film by Al Gore, starring Al Gore and Annette Funicello.
    Hang ten, Al baby! /sarc

  17. joe says:

    isn’t this the same garbage they cooked up a few years ago? i remember they had some conference of big-wig “scientists” who were going to study what would happen if California had something like 40 straight days of heavy rain….(why not study what would happen if a meteor hits the San Andreas fault at just the right angle – maybe California falls into the sea?)

    what crock….trying to scare up more funding for their fellow crooks….and why in the hell is USGS involved in this garbage? we already have NOAA and NASA involved in weather and climate….they all trying to get on the gravy train…let me guess, DMV or the post office is next…

  18. Martin Brumby says:

    4TimesAYear says: January 16, 2011 at 11:15 pm
    “Arkstorm, NOAA……anybody else see the arrogance of this?”

    Sorry, I can’t resist……..

    THREE HA’PENCE A FOOT
    by Marriott Edgar

    http://monologues.co.uk/3Hapence.htm

    I’ll tell you an old-fashioned story
    That Grandfather used to relate,
    Of a joiner and building contractor;
    ‘Is name, it were Sam Oglethwaite.

    In a shop on the banks of the Irwell,
    Old Sam used to follow ‘is trade,
    In a place you’ll have ‘eard of, called Bury;
    You know, where black puddings is made.

    One day, Sam were filling a knot ‘ole
    Wi’ putty, when in thro’ the door
    Came an old feller fair wreathed wi’ whiskers;
    T’ould chap said ‘Good morning, I’m Noah.’

    Sam asked Noah what was ‘is business,
    And t’ould chap went on to remark,
    That not liking the look of the weather,
    ‘E were thinking of building an Ark.

    ‘E’d gotten the wood for the bulwarks,
    And all t’other shipbuilding junk,
    And wanted some nice Bird’s Eye Maple
    To panel the side of ‘is bunk.

    Now Maple were Sam’s Monopoly;
    That means it were all ‘is to cut,
    And nobody else ‘adn’t got none;
    So ‘e asked Noah three ha’pence a foot.

    ‘A ha’penny too much,’ replied Noah
    ‘A Penny a foot’s more the mark;
    A penny a foot, and when t’rain comes,
    I’ll give you a ride in me Ark.’

    But neither would budge in the bargain;
    The whole daft thing were kind of a jam,
    So Sam put ‘is tongue out at Noah,
    And Noah made Long Bacon* at Sam

    In wrath and ill-feeling they parted,
    Not knowing when they’d meet again,
    And Sam had forgot all about it,
    ‘Til one day it started to rain.

    It rained and it rained for a fortni’t,
    And flooded the ‘ole countryside.
    It rained and it kept’ on raining,
    ‘Til the Irwell were fifty mile wide.

    The ‘ouses were soon under water,
    And folks to the roof ‘ad to climb.
    They said ’twas the rottenest summer
    That Bury ‘ad ‘ad for some time.

    The rain showed no sign of abating,
    And water rose hour by hour,
    ‘Til the only dry land were at Blackpool,
    And that were on top of the Tower.

    So Sam started swimming to Blackpool;
    It took ‘im best part of a week.
    ‘Is clothes were wet through when ‘e got there,
    And ‘is boots were beginning to leak.

    ‘E stood to ‘is watch-chain in water,
    On Tower top, just before dark,
    When who should come sailing towards ‘im
    But old Noah, steering ‘is Ark.

    They stared at each other in silence,
    ‘Til Ark were alongside, all but,
    Then Noah said: ‘What price yer Maple?’
    Sam answered ‘Three ha’pence a foot.’

    Noah said ‘Nay; I’ll make thee an offer,
    The same as I did t’other day.
    A penny a foot and a free ride.
    Now, come on, lad, what does tha say?’

    ‘Three ha’pence a foot,’ came the answer.
    So Noah ‘is sail ‘ad to hoist,
    And sailed off again in a dudgeon,
    While Sam stood determined, but moist.

    Noah cruised around, flying ‘is pigeons,
    ‘Til fortieth day of the wet,
    And on ‘is way back, passing Blackpool,
    ‘E saw old Sam standing there yet.

    ‘Is chin just stuck out of the water;
    A comical figure ‘e cut,
    Noah said: ‘Now what’s the price of yer Maple?’
    Sam answered: ‘Three ha’pence a foot.’

    Said Noah: ‘Ye’d best take my offer;
    It’s last time I’ll be hereabout;
    And if water comes half an inch higher,
    I’ll happen get Maple for nowt.’

    ‘Three ha’pence a foot it’ll cost yer,
    And as fer me,’ Sam said, ‘don’t fret.
    The sky’s took a turn since this morning;
    I think it’ll brighten up yet.’

  19. robertvdl says:

    California only costs money. Get all the people out of there. Maybe it´s cheaper.

  20. tallbloke says:

    Interesting graph.
    Looks like the occurrence of big floods has been diminishing as the U.S. warmed after 1862. How well does that square with positive water vapour feedback?

    Or are other natural forces much larger than the claimed co2 effect swamping the alleged signal, as usual?

    Big floods happen somewhere in the world on a pretty frequent basis. Building expensive infrastructure under the brow of large unstable masses of moraine or on flood plains is a risk. But we knew that already.

    Tip to people who live on flood plains. Keep a large boat on your garage roof stocked with fresh water and emergency supplies.

  21. TerrySkinner says:

    But suppose this hurricane and flood hits just as a giant meteor lands and at exactly the same time as the Yellowstone super volcano explodes and just after the ‘big one’ earthquake that has long been promised. And suppose this is exactly when swine flu, dog flu, rabbit flu, ant flu etc has started killing millions and millions and when the rogue states have started exploding their nuclear bombs?

    I mean it might happen?

    And suppose England won the wold cup again….. Nah, there we are in the realm of fantasy.

    Another disaster forecast, Meh. Are there zombies or vampires in it? What does the female star look like? WE are definitely in the ‘water off a duck’s back’ stage for public perception of yet more disaster predictions.

  22. TrevorG says:

    “Walls of water 10ft high, rain falling in feet instead of inches, and nine million people’s homes flooded during a hurricane-like megastorm that could last more than month.”

    This is great! Reminds me of Bill Murray in Ghostbusters, with the pending apocalypse. “Dos and Cats living together- end of the world”. The alarmists are going beyond the pale, or jumping the shark as you say in the US. More fodder for Josh methinks.

  23. Schrodinger's Cat says:

    We seem to have far too many so called scientists who get paid for churning out science fiction – speculation about what might happen, spiced up to attract MSM coverage and public concern, both calculated to aid future funding.

    They actually contribute nothing of value and degrade the reputation of genuine scientists.

  24. Ed Zuiderwijk says:

    Obviously these guys are financed by Big Business Boat Builders capital.

    I bet there’s an outfit “ARK builders” already somewhere on the West coast and maybe you can even buy “build your own Ark” self assembly packets at your local DIY (includes two pigeons and instructions about how to find the pot of gold at the end of
    the rainbow)

  25. Keith Battye says:

    And yet America continues to be the world’s life boat.

  26. Just another feature of the lunar declinational tides in the atmosphere, with the right enhancement of the timing of the arrival of the several effects all at the same time, it could happen again. More research should be done to look into natural reoccurring patterns in global circulation, that are as regular as the ocean tides.

    Should be able to forecast how often, when, and where these major occurrences happen. Once we understand the driving mechanisms behind the Ocean oscillation periods.

  27. Joe Lalonde says:

    Vast amounts of precipitation is the signature of an Ice Age.

  28. amicus curiae says:

    does a fast 40 ish feet beat a slower 10ft?
    Condamines river peak inland without a tornado etc, just a lot of rain, arkwhat? better go try again:-)

  29. MalcolmR says:

    Martin Brumby – thank you!

    I live in Canada now, but the poem reads in my mind in a strong Lancashire accent, with shades of “Our Albert” in the background. Puts exactly the right perspective on things!

    Malcolm

  30. cal Smith says:

    I think it is a very healthy thing to do to remind people that such storms have occurred in the past and are highly likely to occur again, regardless of the amount of CO2 in the air. The difference now is that we have much better tools to mitigate the consequences of such events. If the flood control operators in Australia had not permitted the reservoirs to get so full so early in a strong La Nino rainy season the number of lives lost would have been fewer and the amount of damage done would have been much less. Do you think they may have been influenced by the previous drum beat by AGW proponents that Australia’s future was one of perpetual drought? I hope the dam operators in California take note.

  31. Charles Higley says:

    At least they are not suggesting huge investments in projects to prevent the destruction such a storm might cause. It would be ridiculously expensive to build amelioration devices for something that might not occur for a hundred years. You can only decide to survive this kind of thing, there is no way to avoid the impact.

    Basically, if you build to avoid ALL damage from ALL storms, you cannot afford it. There is a bridge near my house that was built in 1963. It’s in near perfect shape 148 years later. Thus, it was overbuilt big time. Ah, it was built during war time when the cost did not matter.

    How many people know that we had repeating rifles in the North during the Civil War. When it was suggested that we equip our soldiers with this vastly superior weapon, the bean counters said, “NO!” Their reason for suppressing repeating rifles was that soldiers would be tempted to shoot more often and thus burn through more rounds. Oh my god! They might shoot more (at the enemy)! Can’t have that happening, can we? We equipped one small squad with these rifles, minimizing the possible impact.

    I guess the next project should be the Yellowstone National Park Supervolcano and the impact of that event, which we know will also eventually occur.

  32. starzmom says:

    It’s probably too late to tell people not to build on the alluvial fans and up in the arroyos. And when it all comes a-tumblin’ down, they will want our money to put it back.

  33. pyromancer76 says:

    Anthony, I guess I reluctantly am addressing this comment to you, but probably more to you usually magnificent commenters.

    This is just too much “skepticim” for me; it sounds like knee-jerk skepticism. Yes, USGS might have a “climate disruption” motive in bringing these truths to the public, but so what! At least these are truths. People, citizens, home buyers, each generation, should have access, easy access, to the geological past of their area (earthquakes, plate movements, volcanic activity, large landslides, etc.), and the climate past (droughts, floods, hurricanes, massive snow storms, ice sheets, etc.). People need to be scared about real possibilities.

    Preparedness is essential. Adaptation is essential. E.g., we need more catchment basins than we have; we need less alarmism re dams that have been built in the past; we need more attention to lengthy droughts that have occured “regularly” such that more reasonable access to water during low-water times and protection from water during high-water times is developed. On every continent. We need more food storage (both individual and govt) for emergencies than we have; we need homes and businesses and institutions built for the “disruptions” which WILL HAPPEN, maybe not in one’s life time, but in one’s children’s or children’s children. Think ahead, ladies and gentlemen., These are the kinds of problems for which all that AGW money-a-rathole should have been spent. If these scamming government agencies finally begin to turn their attention to reality, history, and truth, help them sort out their reasons. Help them moderate their rhetoric. But don’t only mock them.

  34. ShrNfr says:

    They need not worry. Barrie Harrop has come from Australia to California to help them with their drought problem. On second thought, maybe they should worry bigtime given what is happening in Queensland and Victoria.

  35. Peter Miller says:

    A lot of people are missing the point here – once in every 200 years’ events do happen – my bet is usually at the peak of either an El Nino or La Nina.

    When they happen – such as recently in Brazil and Brisbane Australia – the AGW cult followers automatically chirp: “This is further proof of global warming”. This is one of the biggest lies in AGW fantasy, namely that freak weather events are caused by man’s activities, when in reality they are destined to occur again and again, almost ad infinitum.

    Sometime in the next 25, 50 or 100 years, Brisbane and the same part of Brazil will experience major floods again. The only reason alarmists can blame golobal warming for a freak weather event is that we do not have sufficient historical data on most of them. Otherwise, it would be easy to demonstrate that it was just another once in a 25, 50, or 100 years occurrence.

    If you live on a flood plain, or below a mud cliff, and you are too stupid to move, then you, and you alone, have to be responsible for the consequences of that once in a 50 year event.

  36. Smokey says:

    pyromancer76,

    I agree with your concerns. We should prepare for known risks. But the article was about the media constantly crying “Wolf!!” over what is natural climate variability. This is causing disaster fatigue.

    People are beginning to realize that a degree or so more warmth might be a good thing on balance. And the more educated folks understand that a rise in a harmless trace gas increases food production – hardly something to fear.

  37. Enneagram says:

    It’s Aquarius!
    Same thing happened in the last Aquarius era, about 12,000 years ago, remember? :-)

    When the moon is in the seventh house
    And Jupiter aligns with Mars
    The peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars

    This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
    The age of Aquarius

    Aquarius
    Aquarius

    Harmony and understanding
    Sympathy and trust abounding
    No more falsehoods or derisions
    Golden living dreams of visions
    Mystic crystals revelations
    And the minds true liberation

    LOL!!

  38. Pamela Gray says:

    I have no doubt this will occur. With the right weather pattern variation parameters in place, we could be swamped. As for mitigation, stop filling in flood plains. Stop building out into oceans. And stay clear away from flat river valleys. Give thanks (and I mean never stop the cacophony of praise) for fish killing dams if you are lucky enough to live on a river that has several big ones. Forget insurance. The devastation will overwhelm insurance companies and will be useless as a recovery factor.

    When I look at the Wallowa valley, naked of close up development, I can see where the last flood happened, the one before that, and the one before that. I can see where the swamps were. And I know where the now abandoned pioneer houses sit in the hills. While they may look all old and crotchety, far away from the river and lake, that there was good thinkin. My next house will be built on the foundation of one of these old skeletons.

  39. John says:

    If you are going to do disaster planning, you should look at reasonable extreme events, and simulating an event which actually occurred in 1861 seems quite reasonable. If I were living in CA, I would want to know if I would have to evacuate or not, and where.

    Models of what will happen in massive precipitation events are not nearly as complex as climate models and have pretty good predictive power, so let’s not confuse issues in climate models with models of precipitation in specific watersheds.

    With so many houses and roads in canyons and on hillsides, surely there will be more mudslides on now-denuded hills with no tree roots anchoring the soil. Many people now live in places where they are in grave danger from a one in a century rain event. We already saw in WUWT a few days ago what happens in Brazil when people live in flood plains and denude hillsides — people get washed away, mudslides inundate areas of towns. And that isn’t with unusually high rainfall.

    So this ARKstorm effort is good. Yes, surely people will be quick to attribute the next 100 year precipitation event in CA to global warming, the media will be all over it. We can’t do anything about the need of media to scare the pants off of us whenever they can, they are just trying to drum up business, to keep eyes on the screen so they can get their advertising $. GE owns one of the major networks, they don’t mind scaring people about global warming because it will help their wind turbine AND their gas turbine businesses. We can’t do anything about that.

    But simply preparing to deal with the next time historical precipitation comes? That can only be good.

  40. Olen says:

    At first I thought the USGS was a little out of their box on this but looking at their web site I was wrong, They are a federal agency that is now knee deep into climate as it pertains to the earth and creatures and plants. How much tax dollars are going for duplication of effort. Perhaps the new congress will take a look at agencies that are extending their reach and duplicating effort.

    At least now I know what the number 300 looks like but frankly we should expect more from the USGS than a scare tactic. Whatever happened to presenting the case in person in a rational way rather than using dramatic graphics from of all places an arts college. How much did that cost.

    Shouldn’t the team of experts have something to offer before they go public with such a dramatic presentation?

  41. fhsiv says:

    An interesting contemporary account of the 1861/62 storm event is preserved in the journal of W.H. Brewer, the field leader of the Whitney Survey of California between 1860 and 1864. It provides some brief descriptions of the effects in San Francisco and Sacramento and environs. Also included is the monthly rain gauge data from S.F. indicating ~40 inches in a three month period (25 inches in January) with anecdotes of totals of six feet(!) of rainfall in the Sierra foothills.

    Brewer’s journals are collated into a book called “Up and Down California”. Read the chapter covering his account of the flood at:

    http://www.yosemite.ca.us/library/up_and_down_california/3-1.html

    The book is a must read for anyone interested in California history. It provides as a government scientist’s view of the ‘wild west’ during the Civil War era.

    The flood’s effects in southern California have also been described in contemporary documentaion. One description by a mission priest described the Los Angeles, San Gabriel and Santa Ana rivers as having ‘coalesced’ in the LA Basin. That means most of the LA and Orange County metropolitan area was under water! Granted that a tremendous amount of flood control engineering work has been subsequently constructed in these watersheds, but the order of magnitude of the 1862 flood is about three times the size of the event (1938 flood) which prompted the construction of the flood control works. We’ll see what happens if a repeat of the 1862 storm event occurs. No doubt that it won’t be pretty!

  42. Jack Linard says:

    If it happened before, it can happen again. As an AGW skeptic, I keep repeating that none of the extreme weather events that have occurred in recent years are unprecedented.

    Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of hydrology knows this. As someone noted above, the Victorian floods are estimated to have a recurrence interval of 1 in 2oo years. Same goes for the Queensland floods.

    We forget historical precedent at out peril.

  43. kramer says:

    So, will they blame AGW for this storm should it happen?

  44. Pascvaks says:

    Anthroprogenic Global Cooling (AGC) is REAL. People are growing darker and cooler to everything. It has been demonstrated repeatedly in the past year that people are growing cooler to government every day, April 15 is expected to be the coldest day of the year in the US.

    Note: When yer pipes back up call Joe The Plumber! For a free estimate call 1-800-555-1212. Ask for Joe.
    (This offer good everywhere in the world except where prohibited by law; and in California.)

    Oh.. (Sarc Off)

  45. TomRude says:

    Of course preparation for and extreme scenarii are part of knowledge. We need to know what’s the max. magnitude on a given fault will be. What’s not par of knowledge is the promotion/abuse of it that will be done with it.

  46. Theo Goodwin says:

    We are talking about a massive flood IN THE FLOOD PLAINS, right? That has been happening throughout my lifetime and neither public nor government planning addresses the matter. The thousand-year floods in St. Louis were noteworthy because they produced a lot of video footage of houses being swamped, but all those houses were in the flood plains. And folks are constantly building levees which do nothing but save up for the really big floods. And the government permits all this, then rushes in with government aid when the flood happens. Yet for 99% of St. Louis residents, you had to drive ten miles just to see the flood.

    My point is that the emphasis should be on the flood plains, not on the size of the expected storm. Am I wrong on this? Would the ARK flood do serious damage beyond the flood plains? If so, can someone put this damage in perspective, please?

  47. UK John says:

    “The atmospheric mechanisms behind the storms of 1861-62 are unknown; ” ????

    I can answer that one! it was raining.!

  48. Jim Cole says:

    Conspicuously absent in the team of ARkSTORM experts is any representation from the Bureau of Reclamation — yeah, the dam guys.

    Flood potential is vastly different today than it was 150 years ago.

    “Ten-foot walls of water”? Perhaps locally in the Sierra foothills, but once the storm surge reaches the Great Valley, nothing but shallow inundation. Widespread, but shallow.

    There are times I’m embarassed to admit where I work. It used to be a great science agency.

  49. Randle Dewees says:

    I studied this in an environmental geology class way back in 1974. Dr. John Minch gave us a tour of the pending hydrological disasters of Southern California. Center billing was the Orange County “flood plain”, with their pathetic Santa River channel designed for a 50 year flood. A hundred year flood would produce 4 times the flow of capacity of that channel.

  50. ge0050 says:

    move 1000 miles further north to the pacific northwest and 45 days of rain is just business as usual.

    as the weather cools in the pacific each fall, the storm tracks shift south and california gets a little bit of rain. In the spring this reverses.

    if the north pacific cools enough, the storm tracks could end up of california for a prolonged period.

    there is a 160-170 year cycle in the weather, so we might see a repeat of the 1861 floods in around 2026 +/- 5 years.

  51. Carrick says:

    Some people on this thread have missed that this sort of large-scale rainfall has occurred in the past. It is not a question of whether this will happen again, but when. With or without global warming. It’s a legitimate question to ask how changes in flood management will impact this… if you have this sort of once in a century scenario, will all of the dams even withstand this sort of deluge?

    It’s probably not the overall impact of the rain that is the biggest worry, its mudslides on hillsides where people have built homes and on potentially catastrophic dam failure (think Johnstown Flood).

    Whether there are people chirping “AGW” from the side-lines is irrelevant. Not planning for and addressing this contingency would inevitably lead to massive loss of life, not to mention the huge economic impact it would have on the affected regions.

  52. Jack Linard says:

    Another point – 300,000 cfs is just 8500 m3/s. The inflow design flood for Hoover dam is 32 000 m3/s.

    Nobody – least of all AGW skeptics – should comment on “things they know f…. all about”

  53. jtom says:

    We should all get behind this and say, “Yes, it will happen one day, just like any other major. natural catastrophe, and nothing Man is doing will change it one way or another. We will one day be hit by an astroid, or subjected to the radiation of a huge solar flare, as well. That’s the world we live in.”

    While damage to California from the storm may be huge, it would pale in comparison to the damage done if supporters of AGW theory successfully blamed CO2, and enacted onerous cap-and-trade legislation.

  54. Taphonomic says:

    It’s sad. I can remember when the USGS did some of the finest geology and hydrolgy in the world and now they are reduced to prognosticating and pontificating using computer models, and dialing for dollars by using scare tactics of the precautionary principle and this-may-happen scenarios.

    It seems like the whole report can be summed up as: “S#!t happens. Sometimes mega-s#!t happens. We better get ready for it. Let’s study it somemore.”

  55. Austin says:

    There are massive debris fields below every mountain range in southern california. The size of the stones is mostly in the 2 inch to 12 inch size range. That suggests a sustained flow rate of very high proportions.

  56. TonyK says:

    Weather porn? Good grief, it’s giving regular porn a bad name!

  57. Stan in San Francisco says:

    The GPS says I’m 75′ above the Central Valley flood plane, so I’m getting kicks, etc. ;^)

  58. PhilJourdan says:

    A related story says the floods are every “150 years”, so we would be due. However the historical floods show the one previous to 1861 was in 1610 – that is 250, not 150. I guess their math is as good as their predictive models.

  59. TXRed says:

    First, “ARkStorm” bears an unfortunate resemblance to both David Arkenstone (New-Age musician) and ArcView (great software).

    Second – pitching disaster preparedness a la a SyFy disaster flick may not be the best way to approach things, even in (especially in?) California. Yes, it has happened and will probably occur again. Yes, people need to be aware of the risks. But sheesh, my tax money went for this? Blagh.

  60. Dave Andrews says:

    Walls of water 10 ft high? Say goodbye to Al Gores SF frontage then!

    But then isn’t the real problem that capitalist developers, ever seeking profit, have over the years unwisely built extensively on flood plains ( see Queensland and Brisbane) and sea shore frontages (see Florida and SF) with little regard to the physical reality of those locations. Unfortunately, thereafter, normal people have bought the dream that the charlatans have sold them.

  61. LazyTeenager says:

    Keith Bates says:
    January 16, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Considering that we were supposed to be in a perpetual drought due to AGW getting a 1 in 200 year flood is quite an achievement.
    ———-
    Err no.
    1. There has been no claim of perpetual droughts. Just a claim of more frequent and intense droughts.
    2. There has been no claim that floods will go away.
    3. Predictions and actual temperature rises so far are small.
    4. You are conflating actual events now with predictions of the next 50-100 years.

  62. LazyTeenager says:

    Dennis Nkols says
    —–
    I think everyone needs to also keep in mind those who fail to plan or allow the plan to be corrupted by greed or neglect, think Australia, Pakistan and Brazil, if something like this gets people asking the right questions can that be all that bad?
    ———
    Well you are bring a bit cheeky in suggesting that greed or neglect had anything much to do with Australia, Pakistan or Brazil floods. Ignorant guesswork I would say.

    If you want to consider greed or neglect do it in you own backyard. Hurricane Katrina anyone????

  63. Michael says:

    Bicentenial natural catostrophies happen. Get over it.

  64. mike g says:

    Jack Linard

    Were we talking about the Colorado River? I didn’t think we were.

  65. mike g says:

    LazyTeenager

    Greed and neglect are a minor aspect of the Katrina catastrophe. Major aspect was building, not in the flood plain, but below the flood plain. Below sea level, actually.

    Also, one can look to Katrina to see the importance of self-reliance, as opposed to dependence.

    I live way above the flood plain. But, I make it a habit to get out of the way of Category 3 hurricanes, like Katrina (especially when they’re hyped as 5′s).

  66. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    Dear California residents:
    Save yourselves. Evacuate California.
    This is just one more reason why it’s a good idea to do so.

  67. David A. Evans says:

    Martin Brumby says:
    January 17, 2011 at 12:19 am

    Stanley holloway. I remember it well. :-)

    DaveE.

  68. Dave Springer says:

    The Drudge Report put a link to the CA superstorm article on Yahoo:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110117/us_yblog_thelookout/scientists-warn-california-could-be-struck-by-winter-superstorm

    Close to 13,000 comments as I write this.

  69. Tyler says:

    These are probably the same people who stopped the Auburn Dam near Sacramento. I’m from there. My Dad almost lost his car when Folsom Lake filled in a week in ’56. Such a storm and flood will happen. It’s good to have the discussion. It’s also important to realize why the State won’t be prepared for it. Someone should ask the current Governor why CA doesn’t have more flood control. Was it the actions taken in the late 70s and early 80s by a then younger Governor to “protect” the environment. If you knew the history you’d hope for such a storm and enjoy watching CA voters paddle around for a few weeks.

  70. FrankK says:

    Well you notice (apart from 1938 an “outlier”) things are getting drier and less severe almost exponentially from the graph. There you are “global warming” at work its as simply as that.;)

    Cheers.

  71. Susan P says:

    Well, I personally was not one bit worried about a storm that may or may not ever happen as I worked outside in shorts and bare feet in my SoCal yard today. (89 degress F today) Wasn’t even worried about “the Big One”, either. If it happens, it happens, and there is nothing I can do to make it stop raining or shaking. People live happy lives every day in this world with far less than what I would have left after even the worst natural disaster. (Sorry about all that “global warming” most of the rest of you are experiencing)

  72. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one bloggin’ about how misguided this approach is. My suggestion is: Instead of Shape up or you’re doomed!, how about inclusive conversations about exactly what that storm was and could be? That might actually help people become interested, rather than tune it out. My blog entry here is my attempt to edumacate where the USGS falls short.

    I hope to have an in-depth article on the 1862 events by this December, the 150th anniversary of the storm.

  73. Jim Cole says:

    Perhaps USGS will begin work on its next disaster scenario. After all, it happened before so it could happen again. Hundreds of “experts and scientists, assisted by Hollywood visualization specialists”, will envision what “might happen” (no actual probability here, just scary stories with a grain of truth) due to the next -

    COMET CALAMITY!!

    That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. Coming “soon” to a planet near you, witness the destruction and carnage of:

    flaming atmospheres
    massive earthquakes and humongous tsunami(s)
    environ-mental deeee-struction – unprecedented!!
    species extinction (reptiles beware, mammals better scurry)
    climate change on a scale/pace unknown (even worse than CO2!)
    next Ice Age, or Earth’s surface burned to a crisp (we have models that project both)
    the poor, women, and minorities disproportionately victimized!

    Coming soon in the “Global calamity” series will be:

    Pole-reversal, how everything “might” die if there’s no magnetic field!

    Red Giant, what “might” happen if the Sun goes “postal”

    Black Hole, what “might” happen if the Sun goes “anti-postal”

    Darwin’s Revenge, what “might” happen if microbes figure out how to operate collectively like an opposable thumb!

    Run for cover! Build a backyard shelter! Invest in gold! Be afraid, BE VERY AFRAID.

  74. K says:

    As a Californian, I think of a giant weather system washing away Sacramento as a feature, not a bug.

  75. Greg Cavanagh says:

    The possibility of an event off the scale is ever present. Our records of natural phenomenon are not long enough to really appreciate these extra large events.

    I think the 1:100 year events are probably fairly accurate, but anything above that is a large amount of guess work. Events up to 100 year are approximately logarithmic in scale, but I’m not convinced events above the 100 year events continue on this scale.

    Whether it be fire, flood, wind, hail size, cold, wave heights, ECT. I’ve noticed that in any given year there are multiple record events of something or other in new locations. If you think about it carefully, it’s no real surprise. There are so many places where rare events haven’t happened yet.

  76. Brian H says:

    Hm, I dunno. Mebbe.
    Where did Gore buy that beachhouse again?

  77. nano pope says:

    There’s nothing wrong with preparing for once in 200 year catastrophies. The youtube clip is terrible, drumming up irrational fear but the reasoning behind this program is sound. The real fun will come when they reccomend a flood mitigation plan as we did here in Australia in the 70′s only to see it hijacked and scuttled by the same environmental hypocrites who insist we do something about the climate.

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