The storm system currently flooding parts of Northern California will not bring much rain to our part of the San Joaquin Valley, including Fresno.
But another atmospheric river could just as easily put its aim on our part of the state.
Also known as a Pineapple Express, an atmospheric river is weather pattern where a highly concentrated stream of moisture pours over the area.
Geologic studies show seven atmospheric river ‘megastorms’ hit California in the last 2000 years.
These occur roughly 275 years apart. Sometimes called a ‘300-year-flood.’
The floods of 1861 being the worst on historical record.
Researchers on the ARkStorm project show what might happen if one of these historic atmospheric river-fueled ‘megastorms’ hit today.
Extensive precepitation overwhelms much of California’s 1 and 2-hundred year flood-protection system.
In a worst-case scnerio, the Central Valley could experience flooding 300 miles long and 20 miles wide.
Hundreds of landslides damage roads, highways and homes. Utilities like power, water and sewer systems may be unusable. The study totals potential worst-case damage at $725 billion dollars – three times the loss of a severe potential earthquake known popularly as “The Big One.”