Today in Weather & Climate: California Flood Emergency Edition (Monday, February 20th)
It pays to be ready for the worst.
Here’s what is causing so much concern: If the atmospheric river stalls, there could be up to a foot of rain in a span of about 36 hours over places that are already flooding—that’s a rainfall intensity that isn’t expected more than once a century, or even more rare. At risk is the vast network of levees and dams and diversions that literally make modern California what it is, and protect hundreds of thousands of people. If this system is compromised, the scale of disaster would be among the worst in U.S. history. A dire 2011 New York Times magazine piece outlines the scenario. It’s not pretty. The implications of this flood would be huge: If the levee system is breached, Sacramento could have 30ft of flooding, and much of the state’s water delivery system could be paralyzed by an influx of saltwater, including much of southern California. Two-thirds of people in the state could lose fresh water. That’s not to mention the potential loss of life. Of course, this is not a given based on the latest weather forecast—but the fact that it can’t be ruled out should cause everyone in the region to pay close attention. This is something that should be wall-to-wall national coverage, but I haven’t seen circulated much so far. Please help get the word out. Thank you so much, Eric