Well Duh

These “Super Storms” have happened many times in the past

The threat of a cataclysmic California storm has been dormant for the past 150 years. Geological Survey director Marcia K. McNutt told the New York Times that a 300-mile stretch of the Central Valley was inundated from 1861-62. The floods were so bad that the state capital had to be moved to San Francisco, and Governor Leland Stanford had to take a rowboat to his own inauguration, the report notes. Even larger storms happened in past centuries, over the dates 212, 440, 603, 1029, 1418, and 1605, according to geological evidence.

So, of course, they are caused by Gerbil Warmening

The risk is gathering momentum now, scientists say, due to rising temperatures in the atmosphere, which has generally made weather patterns more volatile.

You know, it’s almost as if these scientists sit around and say “okay, guys. How can we trash our credibility today?”

10 Responses to “Well Duh

  1. greg newsom says:

    There’s a whole system of levees and dikes in northern calif that is over hundred years old.The government hasn’t done anything to strenghten or reinforce them.
    All the money in California is going to pensions and costs of public employees,but these levees will fail and flood all of the central valley someday.This time they won’t have Bush to blame.

  2. Kathy Kinsley says:

    I’m sure they’ll blame him anyway. (Sigh)

  3. JeffS says:

    Naw, they’ll blame Sarah Palin. She’s the new Bush.

  4. skh.pcola says:

    I’ll give them the benefit of a doubt that “scientists” can date a localized weather event to with 1-decade granularity, but there’s no damned way that they can claim with any degree of certainty that something happened in 212, 603, and/or 1029.

  5. skh.pcola says:

    *Mneh. “within 1-decade”

  6. Dave E. says:

    skh-I think it’s the same technology that NOAA uses for “quality control” of historical temperature records. It apparently uses some kind of magic beans.

  7. nightfly says:

    Here I thought that science had actually made progress since the Renaissance. But no – it’s climate change! It’s Global Warming causing these soooooooper storms!

    How is this any different from native Californians in 212, 603, and 1029 blaming those storms on the Perseid meteor showers, or angry demiurges, or some rival shaman’s mystic curse? I mean, is this science or voodoo?

  8. Kathy Kinsley says:

    Voodoo.Well, maybe. I suspect voodoo would probably get better results.

  9. JeffS says:

    OK, I made the mistake of actually reading the linked report; it’s at the very end of the article (here).

    At least, I read the initial pages of the main report. Folks, the reporter is being disingenuous at best, if not dishonest.

    From the abstract:

    “This document summarizes the next major public project for MHDP, a winter storm scenario called ARkStorm (for Atmospheric River 1,000). Experts have designed a large, scientifically realistic meteorological event followed by an examination of the secondary hazards (for example, landslides and flooding), physical damages to the built environment, and social and economic consequences. The hypothetical storm depicted here would strike the U.S. West Coast and be similar to the intense California winter storms of 1861 and 1862 that left the central valley of California impassible. The storm is estimated to produce precipitation that in many places exceeds levels only experienced on average once every 500 to 1,000 years.”

    It’s a HYPOTHETICAL storm. PERIOD. There’s no solid evidence that it will occur.

    Why develop such a storm? Well, here y’go, from page 1:

    “The ARkStorm Scenario is the second major project of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Multi-Hazards Demonstration Project (MHDP). The goal of the MHDP is to improve community resiliency to natural hazards through the application of science from a variety of disciplines. ”

    The rest of the report is modeling of the economic impacts of a hypothetical megastorm on California. What happens to industry, transportation, agriculture, etc. Scan the table of contents to see what I mean.

    There is NO linkage in the report between the hypothetical megastorm and natural flooding. It’s one big “What if….?” investigation for emergency planners, looking at what are known as interdependencies between the various economic sectors. It’s useful for emergency preparedness, and community resilience to natural disasters; it’s NOT a climatic forecast.

    Major flooding (of the 1862 variety) occurred in the Sacramento River, and is discussed. The report says on page 2:

    “The 1861-62 series of storms were the largest and longest California storms in the historic record, but were probably not the worst California has experienced. Geological evidence indicates that floods that occurred before Europeans arrived were bigger. Scientists looking at the thickness of sediment layers collected offshore in the Santa Barbara and San Francisco Bay areas have found geologic evidence of megastorms that occurred in the years 212, 440, 603, 1029, 1418, and 1605, coinciding with climatological events that were happening elsewhere in the world. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that such extreme storms could not happen again.”

    And that’s it. The storm in the report is a possible storm; it is not a PREDICTED event. The 1861-1862 event is offered as a precedent, which is reasonable in emergency preparedness. But “precedence” does not mean “prediction”. This report does not predict.

    Oh, and this quote in the article:

    “The scientists built a model that showed a storm could last for more than 40 days and dump 10 feet of water on the state.”

    Yes, they did. A HYDRAULIC model, not a climate model. A model that estimate water run off (i.e., flooding) from a hypothetical storm event. Which is to say, NOT A CLIMATE MODEL.

    In fact, to model this, they simply took two historical storms for which they good data, and made a hybrid storm, with an artificial event (they stalled the storm over California). See pages 3-7.

    If you’re going to run a hypothetical model, this is a good way to do it quick and cheap. But it is not a climatic model, as the article author implies.

    There’s also some discussion of the flood modeling, which I shan’t go into. But I will point this out:

    “Although a statewide analysis of the expected runoff is estimated by the meteorology modeling effort, this runoff is calculated on an 8 km grid, which is insufficient to estimate the runoff at specific locations with a great level of confidence. Ideally we would have performed a detailed statewide hydrological and hydraulic analysis for the storm to estimate flooding. However, there are two key challenges to such an approach that we could not overcome during this project: (1) no such model currently (2010) exists, and we could not create one within the available time and budget, and (2) a number of variables cannot be modeled: for example, levee breaks occur in real storms, but the first such occurrence invalidates the current (2010) routing models. Existing models (2010) are of (1) such a comparatively small scale, (2) mutually incompatible in terms of input/output, and (3) not designed to function with such large and supercritical flows as to render their inclusion in this study effectively useless.”

    Translation: “There ain’t no state wide flooding model, and we ain’t gonna have one with the time and money available”.

    The modeling team worked around this by using existing flood mapping from FEMA, which is useful for estimating economic impacts, but is not a real accurate flood model at all. Those maps are made for flood insurance, not modeling.

    So this is one big estimate, from one end to another, written for emergency planners and policy wonks. The accuracy (at a guess) is probably within an order of magnitude.

    The likelihood of such storms occurring again is possible, but so are earthquakes and forest fires.

    But this report is NOT a forecast, nor a warning. It’s a decent attempt to analyze what emergency planners call the “reasonable worse case scenario”.

    The MSM strikes again.

  10. Mark Reardon says:

    skh.pcola The 1861-62 is , at least documented by contemporary witnesses. I think the 1605 date might be also. I remember reading the account of an early Spanish explorer weathering a severe blizzard off of what is now Los Angeles.

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