ArkStorm, Atmospheric River Scenario, Impacts to California

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The USGS ARkStorm scenario looks at a massive U.S. West Coast atmospheric river event creating widespread flooding.

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The USGS ARkStorm scenario addresses massive U.S. West Coast storms similar to those that devastated California in 1861-62 and with magnitudes projected to become more frequent and intense as a result of climate change. In this extreme, but plausible, atmospheric river event, the Central Valley experiences hypothetical flooding 300 miles long and 20 or more miles wide. Serious flooding also occurs in Orange County, Los Angeles County, San Diego, the San Francisco Bay area, and other coastal communities. Windspeeds in some places reach 125 miles per hour, hurricane-force winds. Across wider areas of the state, winds reach 60 miles per hour. Hundreds of landslides damage roads, highways, and homes.

Dale Cox, one of the scenario’s authors and the Project Manager for USGS’s Science Application for Risk Reduction, will present on the ArkStorm Scenario and what it means for California. The webinar will cover:

  • Secondary hazards (for example, landslides and flooding)
  • Physical damages to the built environment
  • Social and economic consequences
  • Key findings from the report

Key findings from the ARkStorm Scenario report are:

  • Megastorms are California's other Big One.
  • An ARkStorm would be a statewide disaster.
  • An ARkStorm could produce an economic catastrophe.
  • An ARkStorm is plausible, perhaps inevitable.
  • The ARkStorm is to some extent predictable.
  • Californian flood protection is not designed for an ARkStorm-like event.
  • Planning for ARkStorm would complement planning for earthquakes.

The webex login details will be included in the Eventbrite registration confirmation email.

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