After San Francisco escaped harm (in some cases, rather tastelessly) in last Friday’s tsunami that caused around $40 million of damage to neighboring cities, most San Franciscans hoped to breathe easy and temporarily stop worrying about natural disasters. At least until an earthquake unexpectedly plunges everyone into the Pacific Ocean. California may have a lot of problems, but at least we don’t hurricanes or fire tornadoes.
Oh, what’s that, CBS5? You say we’re expecting a super hurricane lasting for over a month and costing the state nearly a trillion dollars? A storm that would cause “floods and landslides in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Area”?
A team of 117 researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey posit in a newly published study that California is due for a “superstorm” of the type that regularly hits the state every couple hundred years. The storm could result in over 6,000 square miles of flooding in the Central Valley with winds upward of 100 miles per hour.
The report was prepared by the U.S.G.S. Multi Hazards Demonstration Project, a government organization promoting disaster readiness that previously helped to organize California’s largest-ever earthquake drill late last year.
The report was released in conjunction with a “superstorm summit” in Sacramento in January. In addition, the group produced this not-at-all-apocalyptic video informing Californians that the storm will be caused by “atmospheric rivers of moisture [that] form in the tropics…growing larger and gaining speed as they travel towards the West Coast…The result will be ten feet of rainfall…and [endless] landslides…Many parts of the state will remain flooded for months after the storm.”
The last superstorm occurred in the early-1860s and caused so much flooding that the state capital had to be temporarily moved to San Francisco. Governor-elect Leeland Stanford was forced travel to his inauguration by rowboat. Judging from the geological evidence, researchers think at least five such storms have hit the West Coast over the past 2000 years.
While it’s reasonable to assume this storm will be the end of civilization as we know it, and therefore we should dub it Death Storm Apocalypse: Revenge of the Prophecy, or something like that, there are some urging the media to tone down their storm-related scaremongering.
Kevin Martin, a meteorologist at The Weather Space complains that, “The titles are premature and irresponsible. Any outlet that scares the living daylights out of the public…should lose credibility…It’s [just] a scenario, not an actual storm coming as we speak. Media outlets tend to make exciting titles so you click their story and then find out more about what it truly is.”
Not only is that the reason no one’s ever heard of The Weather Space, but it’s also not the way to placate the storm into leaving us alone and murdering everyone in Oregon instead. If California wants to be safe, it needs to put up signs complimenting the storm on its high average wind speed and letting it know that, even though rising atmospheric temperatures have made weather patterns more volatile in recent years as a result of global warming, we know the storm could have caused all this destruction on its own if it really wanted to. Governor Brown could take the money he saved from his statewide shutdown of redevelopment zones and use it to carve giant tablets into Mt. Shasta acknowledging that, since our storm is a jealous storm, we will have no other storms before it.
If personifying and then flattering the storm doesn’t work, we might as well just move someplace safe like Connecticut because we’re all screwed.
At least we’re still in the clear on fire tornadoes, right?