Study: Drop in California Workers’ Comp Hospital Stays and Spinal Surgeries

The number of California workers’ compensation inpatient hospital stays fell 31.2 percent between 2008 and 2016 compared with a 19.6 percent drop in hospital stays paid under private plans, a new California Workers’ Compensation Institute study shows.

The study also shows a 2.4 percent increase in Medicare inpatient stays, and a 19.6 percent increase in inpatient stays paid by Medi-Cal, which saw a huge jump in enrollment with the rollout of Affordable Care Act plans.

California Bills Inspired by 2017 Mudslides and Fires Clear Committee

Two bills inspired by the 2017 mudslides and fires in California that are designed to help prevent homeowners from being underinsured when disaster strikes passed the Assembly Insurance Committee on Wednesday.

The bills, sponsored by California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, passed out of the committee with a unanimous vote. Assembly Bill 1797, authored by Assemblyman Levine, D-Marin County, and Assembly Bill 1875, authored by Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, will help homeowners avoid being underinsured, a terrible problem faced by many survivors of the 2017 fires, according to Jones.

M3.3 Magnitude Rattles Shakes San Francisco Bay Area

A minor earthquake has shaken the San Francisco Bay area, the United States Geological Survey confirmed.

The USGS says an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 3.3 struck just before 5 a.m. on Monday. The epicenter of the quake was about 24 miles east-northeast of San Francisco City Hall. The closest city to the 4:55 a.m. quake was Alamo, California, about 2 miles away. The quake had a depth of about 3.5 miles.

‘Precipitation Whiplash’ Could Eventually Trigger Catastrophic California Flooding

In California in 1862, the area between Sacramento and San Francisco became, in effect, an inland sea of about 300 miles long by 30 miles wide after 40 to 45 straight days of rain.

That area is now home to millions of people and the state Capitol. What would happen if that type of rain event occurred in the near future, and what’s the likelihood? The answer to the first question is, there would be complete devastation. In looking for an answer to the second question scientists invoke a phenomenon they’re calling “precipitation whiplash.”

This refers to the rapid transitions between precipitation extremes and the opposite — so a heavy season of rain followed immediately by drought or vice versa. This, scientists say in a study published in the scientific journal, Nature Climate Change, is what California can expect in its future because of the warming climate.

It means that severe rain or drought will be concentrated in more narrow intervals of time than they have been traditionally. It means, possibly, more extreme flooding events and more drought.

California Bill Would Shield PG&E, Edison from Some Wildfire Liability

Utility giants PG&E Corp. and Edison International could gain at least some protection against future wildfire damages under a bill that’s advancing in California’s legislature.

An amended bill being weighed by California’s Senate would shield utilities that follow approved safety plans in future state proceedings should one of their power lines spark a wildfire. Utilities would remain vulnerable to potential civil lawsuits, and the legislation wouldn’t be retroactive — meaning PG&E and Edison could still face billions of dollars in costs from wildfires that destroyed thousands of structures last year.

California's Deadly 1862 Flood Likely to Repeat Within 50 Years, Study Says

(TNS) - The 1862 flood that went down as the worst washout in modern California history, transforming the Central Valley into a raging sea and stealing countless lives and property, is often described as an improbable 200-year event.

A study published Monday, however, turns those odds in a bad way, saying extreme weather swings from brutal dry spells to intense storms will become increasingly frequent, a phenomenon the authors dub “precipitation whiplash.”

Evidence of Massive California Oil Spill Was Obvious, But Was It A Crime?

An acrid stink of petroleum three years ago sent Santa Barbara County firefighters scrambling in a search for a possible spill. When they arrived at Refugio State Beach they witnessed oil staining the pristine sands and seeping into the surf. Uphill they discovered oil gushing like a fire hose “without a nozzle.”

It was the worst California coastal spill in 25 years, spreading a shimmering sheen out to sea that eventually deposited tar balls on beaches more than 100 miles away. But were they looking at a crime scene?

Climate Change Will Make California's Drought-Flood Cycle More Volatile, Study Finds

(TNS) - Californians should expect more dramatic swings between dry and wet years as the climate warms, according to a new study that found it likely that the state will be hit by devastating, widespread flooding in coming decades.

UC researchers in essence found that California's highly volatile climate will become even more volatile as human-caused climate change tinkers with atmospheric patterns over the eastern Pacific Ocean.

The long-term average of annual precipitation in California won't change much, they predicted.

In Search of Infrastructure-Proof Emergency Alerts

The increased reliance on emergency text alerts to receive warnings of natural or manmade disasters is a capability that most people have come to expect. Listening to broadcast radio warnings of severe weather happening miles away has transformed into more precise, geo-located alerts that target specific locations. The benefits of this technology are profound and should lead to people taking action when an alert comes in because they know that the threat is timely and accurate to their locations. New technologies could save many lives during future disasters.

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