Potential Super storm? - could impact California
Mount Shasta Commons
On Preparedness Community Sustainability
By Sherry L. Ackerman
In 1860 the population of California was 380,000, according to the official US census. (There are 38 million residents in the state now.) At this time, there was no formal weather service in existence, just a handful of individuals who kept data in such places as San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego, and Los Angeles (a small village at that time).
The first rain of the 1861-1862 season occurred on Nov. 10, according to San Francisco records. By the end of November 4.10 inches of rain had fallen, well above the average of 3.20 inches.
The first half of December brought an additional 3.27 inches and then the rains began in earnest on Dec. 23. Between then and Jan. 22 an amazing 29.28 inches of rain was recorded in the city.
An additional 1.35 inches fell the last of week of January and February produced another 7.53 inches. Flooding that had begun during the December deluges increased in scope and intensity throughout January.
One strange meteorological aspect of the event was the wild swings of temperature that occurred during both December and January. According to research done at Oregon State University by Victor Neal and William Quin, it appears that a polar jet stream swept down to central California in December and then fluctuated north and south over the Northwest and California for two months interacting with a persistent Alaskan low that bowled one storm after another into California.
On Jan. 14, 2011, the US Geological Survey released a report concerning a potential “super storm” that could impact California at some future date and cause the costliest weather-related disaster in American history. The report references the 1860 floods as a prototype of what might occur again.
Strange meteorological aspects are at hand once again. This time they are Atmospheric Rivers. Atmospheric Rivers are relatively narrow regions in the atmosphere that are responsible for intense horizontal transport of water vapor.
The USGS suggests that up to 120 inches of rain could fall in California over the course of such an event and the run-off would flood the entire Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys.
Here are a few key considerations to think about, in terms of being prepared in the event of such storms:
There are lots more things that you can do to be prepared for unexpected weather. The above list, however, gets you started. From there, you’ll tailor the list to meet your own particular needs. The key is to get started!
• Food – Buy and store sufficient food to last for a few days, including water.
• Flashlights and candles – Get several flashlights, as well as batteries; candles and matches.
• Charge up – Charge your battery powered essentials, such as cell phones, Ham Radios, etc.
• Garbage – Secure garbage bins if they are outside, or bring them inside.
• Prepare vulnerable windows – If you’re concerned about windows blowing in, get cardboard, strong tape and plastic to secure them.
• Get ready to be sit tight – Have some reading material, art supplies and/or journaling material on hand so that you’ll have meaningful activity in which to engage during the storm.
• Plan for the kids – If you have children who may get cabin-fever, get prepared. Plan to play charades, tell stories, make music.
• Have rain gear – Find some rain boots, rain ponchos and/or raincoats and have them easily accessible in the event of a storm.
Shasta Commons is a network organization whose mission is to encourage a resilient and thriving local community. They are overseeing the Community Sustainability column in Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers. For more information, visit the website www.mountshastacommons. org/