Scientists call it California’s “other big one,” and they say it could cause three times as much damage as a major earthquake ripping along the San Andreas Fault.
Although it might sound absurd to those who still recall five years of withering drought and mandatory water restrictions, researchers and engineers warn that California may be due for rain of biblical proportions — or what experts call an ARkStorm.
This rare mega-storm — which some say is rendered all the more inevitable due to climate change — would last for weeks and send more than 1.5 million people fleeing as floodwaters inundated cities and formed lakes in the Central Valley and Mojave Desert, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Officials estimate the structural and economic damage from an ARkStorm (for Atmospheric River 1,000) would amount to more than $725 billion statewide.
In heavily populated areas of the Los Angeles Basin, epic runoff from the San Gabriel Mountains could rapidly overwhelm a flood control dam on the San Gabriel river and unleash floodwaters from Pico Rivera to Long Beach, says a recent analysis by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
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