18 January 2011
Australia has been subject to some pretty catastrophic flooding over the past month, particularly in Queensland and more recently in Victoria. So, it was with interest that I read this story about a California "Superstorm". At first, the story reads like an overview for an 'end of days' or 'apocalyptic' end of the world film. Yet, the further one reads the more serious and real sounding it becomes. The icing on the cake though is that the history of superstorms in the region is fairly well documented and the US Geological Survey people have done some science on the phenomenon that indicates that the superstorm might not be that far away.
So, what does it look like for California? Well, the 100 or so heads that came together to try and work this out came up with a scenario that saw about one-quarter of the state flooded and a damage bill somewhere between USD 300 and USD 400 billion. It seems that there might be a time in the future where California will need the Governator (aka Arnold Schwarzenegger) once again.
The scientific model that the experts are working with is Biblical in the sense that it shows 40 days of constant rain that sees a deluge of more than 3 meters of water inundating the Central Valley.
The arguments for a superstorm do not seemingly rely on global warming, and the history of the superstorm suggests that California has been victim of severe flooding in the past. However, scientists do note that we are in a pattern of rising atmospheric temperatures that are critical to creating the conditions necessary to allow a superstorm to develop.
How prepared is California? And, more to the point, can one ever be prepared enough for a storm of such magnitude?
The mind boggles at the power of Mother Nature.