Sea Level Rise Could Hurt California More than Wildfires, Earthquakes

(TNS) - In the most extensive study to date on sea level rise in California, researchers say damage by the end of the century could be far more devastating than the worst earthquakes and wildfires in state history.

A team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists concluded that even a modest amount of sea level rise — often dismissed as a creeping, slow-moving disaster — could overwhelm communities when a storm hits at the same time.

The study combines sea level rise and storms for the first time, as well as wave action, cliff erosion, beach loss and other coastal threats across California. These factors have been studied extensively but rarely together in the same model.

Heavy Flooding Turns Sonoma County, Calif., Towns into Islands

(TNS) - One of the winter’s strongest storms brought flooding across Northern California’s wine country Wednesday, with no region hit harder than the town of Guerneville and the Russian River Valley, which has been inundated repeatedly over the decades.

Some 3,600 people in about two dozen communities near the river were evacuated Wednesday by the flooding, which prompted the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors to declare a local emergency. Authorities warned that those who chose to stay in their homes could be stuck there for days.

Heaviest Storm of the Season to Hit Fire-Scarred Southern California

(TNS) — The strongest and potentially wettest storm of the winter season is bearing down on Southern California this week, threatening to unleash debris flows in burn areas in Orange and Riverside counties as the region’s wild winter continues.

The atmospheric river-fueled storm, packed with subtropical moisture, will take aim at large swaths of the already-soaked state beginning early Wednesday and lasting through Thursday.

More Evacuations Ordered in Burn Areas as Record Rain Soaks Southern California

(TNS) - A storm over Southern California dumped rain and snow on the area Monday, heightening the threat of mud and debris flows in areas scarred by recent wildfires, prompting evacuation orders, and closing a stretch of Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu and the Grapevine section of the 5 Freeway.

The National Weather Service issued a flood advisory for western Los Angeles County and Ventura County, warning that roads, streams and highways could pool with rain as showers are expected through the week.

As rain pelted the state Monday, setting new rainfall records in Burbank and Sandberg, a town near the Grapevine, officials began to close roads that were too dangerous for traffic.

In New California Disaster Era of 'Fire-Floods,' Where Will Deadly Debris Flows Strike Next?

(TNS) - Brent Larson awoke at 4 a.m. to the shake and rumble of what felt like a freight train rolling down the hill toward his Santa Barbara County home.

He leaped from his bed and woke his two sons. In seconds, a wall of water, mud and rock slammed into his house, smashing through one window, then the next, then a third, pouring in as the trio sprinted to the safety of the chimney at the home’s far corner.

“It was like out of ‘Indiana Jones,’” he said, nine months later, still shaken.

More Intense Heat Waves in California’s Future, According to New Assessment

In the wake of hurricanes Florence and Michael and myriad other devastating storms and wildfires stacking up during the last decade, an updated assessment of California’s changing climate offers the projection of more of the same.

The assessment said Californians can expect more heat and more extreme weather, which would lead to more wildfires, floods, drought and public health issues. California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment was produced as part of a volunteer initiative by climate experts. The assessment updates the third one issued in 2012.

Federal Government Will Shrink California Beach City’s Flood Zone

A report says a Southern California beach city has persuaded federal officials to exclude about 2,700 coastal properties from updated flood maps, saving homeowners thousands in insurance costs.

The Los Angeles Times reported that as a result, homeowners in parts of Newport Beach would save up to $3,700 each, or $10 million combined, each year in premiums.

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.

‘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.

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