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.

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.”

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.

California Mudslide Victims ID’d as Crews Continue Survivor Search

The oldest victim swept away in a California mudslide was Jim Mitchell, who had celebrated his 89th birthday the day before. He died with his wife of more than 50 years, Alice.

The youngest, 3-year-old Kailly Benitez, was one of four children killed.

As their names and those of 14 other victims were released Thursday, crews kept digging through the muck and rubble looking for more people.

The number of reported deaths from the mudslide has reached 17.

“At this moment, we are still looking for live victims,” Santa Barbara fire Capt. Gary Pitney said. But he confessed: “The likelihood is increasing that we’ll be finding bodies, not survivors. You have to start accepting the reality of that.”

At least 13 Dead as Heavy Rains Trigger Flooding, Mudflows and Freeway Closures Across Southern California

(TNS) - At least 13 people were killed Tuesday when a rainstorm sent mud and debris coursing through Montecito neighborhoods and left rescue crews to scramble through clogged roadways and downed trees to search for victims.

The deluge that washed over Santa Barbara County early Tuesday was devastating for a community that was ravaged by the Thomas fire only a few weeks earlier. In just a matter of minutes, pounding rain overwhelmed the south-facing slopes above Montecito and flooded a creek that leads to the ocean, sending mud and massive boulders rolling into residential neighborhoods, according to Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason.

At least 25 other people were injured, authorities said at an afternoon press conference. Crews rescued 50 people by air and dozens more from the ground.

Rains Finally Arrive, Bringing New Danger in California's Vast Fire Zones

REPORTING FROM MONTECITO, Calif. — In the mountains above coastal Santa Barbara County, the vegetation is typically so deep and lush that it can soak up a half-inch of rainwater before it flows downhill.

But that was before the Thomas fire swept through in December, burning those trees and brush to the ground. Now, the rain has no buffer, and that is cause for alarm.

"It hits the dirt directly and it is instant runoff and carries that sediment," Thomas D. Fayram, the deputy public works director for the county, told concerned residents at a community meeting several weeks ago.

Southern California is about to get its first significant rainstorm in nearly a year this week, with more than 4 inches of rain expected in burn areas.

Mapping the Post-Wildfire Landslide Risk in California’s Burn Zones

California’s rainy season last year may have replenished reservoirs in most parts of the state after a long, crippling drought, but the precipitation largely bypassed an area northwest of Los Angeles, in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Santa Barbara is now in its seventh year of drought and there are worries that similar conditions will return elsewhere in the Golden State.

Under these difficult circumstances, incoming rain—like the heavy precipitation that’s expected this week in parts of Southern California—would be welcomed as good news. But that’s not necessarily the case in the areas impacted by recent wildfires, including Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, where upwards of 4 inches of rains is predicted through Tuesday evening in some spots.

Oroville Dam Repairs Concern Calif. Residents

Construction of a new spillway at the Oroville Dam in northern California—the largest dam in the U.S.—is underway and is expected to be completed sometime in 2018, according to the California Department of Water Resources. The dam replaces the previous spillway, which was damaged by heavy flooding in February.

Problems at the Oroville Dam began, when the dam’s main sluice was damaged after a winter season of record rain and snowfall, following five years of drought. Torrential rainfall caused water levels to rise so quickly that large amounts needed to be released to prevent the dam from rupturing and sending a wall of water to the communities below.

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