California has a storm of "biblical proportions" every 200 years


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/02/21/california-has-a-storm-of-bi.html


#2

If only California could get their story straight. First it’s earthquakes, then drought, then floods. Do we also get to see fire, boils, and vermin?


#3

what will be interesting is if this once in 100 years event happen within the next ten years again and then in the next five after that and year to year after that…


#4

Well they already had fires - 565,070 acres (2,286.8 km2)(As of December 11) burned - I mean unless that’s not ‘bigly’ enough.


#5

“… fire, boils and vermin” already in the White House.

Tho every time I hear the word vermin I can’t help but think of our great leader and thought emperor: Vermin Supreme


#6

As storms go, I’ve been through worse on a typical Chicago Tuesday. I mean, there wasn’t so much any thunder and lightning. But I think what makes a Bay Area storm notable is that it’s pretty rare. All those loose branches and wobbly trees that have gone on unchallenged suddenly all fall down at the same time and it makes things far more chaotic with what would otherwise be unremarkable weather.


#7

No no no that’s not how a random process works. Having a bastard of a storm “every 200 years” only means every year there’s a 0.5% chance. It could happen twice back-to-back and then go away for a thousand years. They do the same thing with earthquakes and killer asteroids. Now why would the media want to scare everybody with something that’s not true?


#8

Force of habit?


#9

I live right near a waterway that’s flooding like crazy right now, in a house that has never flooded, but it’s only 160 years old, so… not sure if I should be worried or not as the water continues to rise. All the homeless people who live along the water are getting displaced as well - and they’ve been breaking into the property, trying to find someplace to bed down. Someone slept in the separated art studio last night, and stole all the keys to the door locks so I can’t keep them out when they come back tonight, presumably. (They also made a right mess and could have burned it down. Not sure what else they stole. This also might be a guy who routinely screams about how he’s going to rape and murder my dog, so I’m already not feeling nervous about him.) So I’m alternating between fixing all the latches and doors they’ve broken, replacing locks and trying to prepare for flooding. Fun, fun.

The alternating drought and flooding (along with high winds) is also knocking down big, apparently healthy trees, not just dead ones that held on for a long time. A tree large enough to knock down multiple telephone poles when it fell took out power for a couple days recently as well. It seemed perfectly healthy.
This all may be the new normal.


#10

Yeah, not only is randomness lumpy, the fun part is there’s very good reason to suppose that “100-year storms” happen in clusters.

Most of our “100-year storm” estimates are based on the geological record, where it’s (relatively) easy to say, “hey, it looks there were about 50 of these big events over the last 5000 years, so that’s one every 100 years on average.”

But the geology usually can’t tell you if that’s one storm every century, or five such storms in a single decade, followed by 490 years with no storms at all.

Those both look exactly the same, on average.

And, given what we know about climate cycles, we know that clusters of storms are actually far more likely than an even, regular spacing.

Back when I lived in Phoeniz, AZ, they had, IIRC, three “100-year” floods and one “500-year” flood in the space of seven years.

That was a third of a century ago, and they haven’t had one since.

Randomness is naturally lumpy and clustered. And weather isn’t even random. (-:


#11

There was literally one such tree at my apartment that fell into the street last night, took out power to the whole neighborhood and destroyed several cars. Never seen anything like it. The winds weren’t really that bad, and tree seemed fine prior to the incident. I have to assume it’s just the culmination of heavy rains and the apparently short roots of the palm that contributed to it (some quick reading on the subject suggests it might not have been transplanted properly).


#12

The Rebel State of California thanks you for your support.


#14

Yeah, it was a huge evergreen that fell in my neighborhood, thanks to some 40 mph gusts, and it looked really lush and healthy before it went down. Luckily it didn’t fall on the neighbor’s house, or it would have been toast. That one windy morning brought down trees - and power lines - all over town. Other trees in the area did fall on houses, but I haven’t read of any fatalities, thankfully.
I’ve got a tall redwood near the house, and every time it gets windy, I get very nervous.


#15

The description in the OP puts me in mind of the San Joaquin Sea described in Lucifer’s Hammer. Damn. Nature’s a bitch, always has been.


#16

I used to work as a flood data analyst. I sure would like to go back and have a peek at those FEMA maps again.


#17

I can’t even imagine what that kind of storm would do to the Coast Range. That much rain in the interior would also flood out ALL the valleys all across Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Humboldt. There are some spots along the 101 up there that were under 15 feet of water as recently as '64.


#18

Well, shit. The water level has been rising quickly all day (beyond record heights), despite the fact that it stopped raining this morning, thanks to another California issue - inadequate water infrastructure. Republicans are all hot on building new dams (as if that would fix drought issues, which they wouldn’t), while existing dams are falling apart, not earthquake safe, etc. The waterway behind my home is fed by a dam - a dam normally kept at no more than half capacity because it’s likely to disintegrate in the event of an earthquake. At the same time, they always keep it as full as possible because, well, California. Today it exceeded 100%. Water was coming over the spillway in addition to the water they’ve been letting out the bottom for weeks. I’ll be staying up all night because I may have to evacuate at any time. The water level isn’t expected to start receding until the morning (because presumably they’ll cut back on the amount of water they’re letting out). We’re expecting a lot more rain on Saturday, so they’ve got to let a lot out, otherwise we’ll be right back at this point again this weekend (and we may anyways).
And oh, double shit, it just started raining again. I might just end up homeless tonight.


#19

Been to Willits?


#20

The Central Valley aquifer is still being depleted due to underregulation and overpumping. This is how far it fell between 1925 and 1977: Edit: Click image to expand. I don’t know why.

Finally having rain after that drought is great (unless it’s your house getting flooded,) but it doesn’t simply soak straight down and refill the aquifer.


#21

I just came here to say that’s one of the most horrendous designs for a McMansion I’ve ever seen. Once you see the derpy face in the right side of the house, you can’t un-see it.