Catastrophic Storms Hit California


AP Photo/Noah Berger

Flooding and landslides in California have killed twenty people as of right now and displaced tens of thousands. Officials say that more people have died due to the recent storms than the wildfires that have occurred in the last two years. The White House declared a major disaster in three California cities on Saturday, January 24th, 2023, including Merced, Sacramento, and Santa Cruz.
These floods are a result of the recurrent waves of atmospheric “rivers” that carry water vapor from tropical places to other areas on the Earth which lead to rainfall. “To go for four years with very little rain to now suddenly in a three-week period, nine atmospheric rivers compressed into just such a short period of time – and this is about a year’s worth of rainfall in a wet year, not a drought year, a wet year, all at once,” Lt. Gov Eleni Kounalakis said to CNN on Monday. These floods were predicted by scientists as the same kind of flooding that occurred in California in 1861 and 1862. “There is sedimentary evidence from a UC Santa Barbara study that such a phenomenon recurs in California about every 250 years,” said Upamanu Lall, a professor of engineering and the director of the Columbia Water Center. According to the California Geological Survey, there have been over 500 landslides reported since December 30th, most of which have occurred along the coastal mountains of Central and Southern California.
There has been a new state flood protection plan for the Central Valley that recommends strengthening levees and putting back natural floodplains along rivers. “We need to invest in what is necessary to improve life safety, protect vital infrastructure and improve our environment,” said Jane Dolan, president of the Central Valley Flood Protection Board. Scientists say that climate change is playing a huge role in this flooding and is predicted to only get worse as the years go on. Scientists estimate that an average of 500 people will die in the Central Valley if the state does not take measures to implicate more safety.