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The coming megafloods

Scientific American

By:
and
DOI: 10.1038/scientificamerican0113-64

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Abstract

Geologic evidence shows that truly massive floods, caused by rainfall alone, have occurred in California about every 200 years. The most recent was in 1861, and it bankrupted the state. Such floods were most likely caused by atmospheric rivers: narrow bands of water vapor about a mile above the ocean that extend for thousands of miles. Much smaller forms of these rivers regularly hit California, as well as the western coasts of other countries. Scientists who created a simulated megastorm, called ARkStorm, that was patterned after the 1861 flood but was less severe, found that such a torrent could force more than a million people to evacuate and cause $400 billion in losses if it happened in California today. Forecasters are getting better at predicting the arrival of atmospheric rivers, which will improve warnings about flooding from the common storms and about the potential for catastrophe from a megastorm.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
The coming megafloods
Series title:
Scientific American
DOI:
10.1038/scientificamerican0113-64
Volume
308
Year Published:
2013
Language:
English
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Contributing office(s):
Branch of Regional Research-Western Region
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Scientific American
First page:
64
Last page:
71
Country:
United States
State:
California