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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pat

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.

Ray

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).

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

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.

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

Keith Bates

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.

P.G. Sharrow

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?

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.

Stephen Wilde

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.

BillyBob

Wait …. there are weather cycles? 11/30/100 year cycles.
And they repeat themselves?
Who knew?
I thought CO2 drove everything.

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?

4TimesAYear

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

Layne Blanchard

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…

LightRain

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

Bill Jamison

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.

Darell C. Phillips

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

joe

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…

Martin Brumby

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.’

robertvdl

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

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.

TerrySkinner

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.

TrevorG

“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.

Schrodinger's Cat

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.

Ed Zuiderwijk

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)

Keith Battye

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

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.

Joe Lalonde

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

amicus curiae

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:-)

MalcolmR

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

cal Smith

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.

higley7

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.

starzmom

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.

pyromancer76

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.

ShrNfr

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.

Peter Miller

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.

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.

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!!

Pamela Gray

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.

John

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.

Olen

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?

fhsiv

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!

Jack Linard

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.

kramer

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

Pascvaks

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)

TomRude

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.

Theo Goodwin

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?

UK John

“The atmospheric mechanisms behind the storms of 1861-62 are unknown; ” ????
I can answer that one! it was raining.!

Jim Cole

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.

Randle Dewees

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.

ge0050

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.