‘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.

Growing Cities Mean Growing Risks

On a recent list of the fastest growing American cities, Nashville jumped from 20th to 7th in a year. There are more than 210 active construction projects in the downtown core alone. We are hardly alone. Denver, New York, Charlotte, Atlanta and more are experiencing similar growth. Cities are booming and growing, and the construction cycle is showing little sign of letting up soon.

This growth presents great opportunity for companies in the construction industry. While it is exciting to see many succeed and take part in skyline-changing projects, it cannot be overlooked that with growing opportunity comes growing challenges. Risk management and comprehensive protections are becoming a central component of doing business, as more activity, more competition and tougher deadlines mean that no matter how good a company is with its service, risk is increased.

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.

Quake Scenario: More than 1M Bay Area Homes Could Suffer Extensive Damage

More than a million San Francisco Bay Area residents would face extensive damage to their homes after a major earthquake on the Hayward fault, according to a new earthquake scenario developed by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The USGS findings, which were developed with contributions from partners that include the California Earthquake Authority, are part of a HayWired earthquake scenario report that describes likely impacts from a rupture of the Hayward Fault in the Bay Area.

California Governor Suspends Mobile Home Regulations to Help Fire Victims

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed an executive order removing barriers to mobile home construction and placement in an effort to help residents displaced by the recent Southern California mudslides and wildfires.

The order suspends for three months all regulations included in the state’s laws governing mobile and manufactured homes.

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