Scientists create model of monster 'Frankenstorm'

Jan 24, 2010 By ALICIA CHANG , AP Science Writer

(AP) -- Think the recent wild weather that hammered California was bad? Experts are imagining far worse.

As torrential rains pelted wildfire-stripped hillsides and flooded highways, a team of scientists hunkered down at the California Institute of Technology to work on a "Frankenstorm" scenario - a mother lode wintry blast that could potentially sock the Golden State.

The hypothetical but plausible would be similar to the 1861-1862 extreme floods that temporarily moved the state capital from Sacramento to San Francisco and forced the then-governor to attend his inauguration by rowboat.

The scenario "is much larger than anything in living memory," said project manager Dale Cox with the U.S. Geological Survey.

In the scenario, the storm system forms in the Pacific and slams into the West Coast with hurricane-force winds, hitting Southern California the hardest. After more than a week of ferocious weather, the system stalls for a few days. Another storm brews offshore and this time pummels Northern California.

Such a monster storm could unleash as much as 8 feet of rain over three weeks in some areas, said research meteorologist Martin Ralph with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who is part of the project.

It makes the latest Pacific storm system look like a drop in the bucket. A weeklong siege of storms walloped California, flooding coasts and roads, spawning tornados and forcing the evacuation of about 2,000 homes below fire-scarred mountains for fear of mudslides. The National Weather Service said the storms dumped up to a foot in the mountains northwest of Los Angeles in a week.

Weather experts say West Coast storms could get more frequent and severe with . Last fall, a team of federal, state and academic experts was formed to tackle what would happen if a series of powerful storms lashed at the state for 23 days. The scenario is expected to be completed this summer and will be used in a statewide disaster drill next year.

Ironically, the team had scheduled meetings at Caltech to learn about the fictional storm's impact to dams, sewage treatment plants, transportation and the electrical grid. About a dozen canceled due to the storms.

"They had to deal with the real thing," said chief scientist Lucy Jones of the USGS.

The next step is to estimate economic damages as well as the risk of landslides and coastal erosion and impact to infrastructure and the environment.

Several scientists on storm watch were involved in the 2008 planning of a mock "Big One" on the San Andreas Fault that was incorporated into an earthquake preparedness drill.

The Great Flood of 1861-1862 was believed to be the most powerful and longest series of storms in state history, lasting a month and causing severe flooding.

The Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys were water-logged and spontaneous lakes popped up in the Mojave Desert and Los Angeles basin. Nearly a third of the young state's taxable land was destroyed.

Since there are few meteorological records available on the 1861-1862 events, scientists stitched together data from two recent storms to create "Frankenstorm."

Explore further: Tropical Storm Marie forms in Pacific off Mexico

More information: USGS Multi-Hazards Demonstration Project: http://urbanearth.gps.caltech.edu

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User comments : 14

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Quantum_Conundrum
2.3 / 5 (6) Jan 24, 2010
The stupid thing is, if this scenario ever happens IRL, the AGW alarmists will of course blame it on man....even though it happened before 140 years ago before the automobile, aircraft, or most anything else we use with a "carbon footprint".
ormondotvos
3 / 5 (2) Jan 24, 2010
Are you nuts? No one blamed the old storm. And no one is blaming a new one on AGW. This is disaster planning for whatever comes along.

Take a break, take a walk. They aren't going to pay you for such dumb comments...
ormondotvos
not rated yet Jan 24, 2010
But they ARE paying for dumb comments:

http://www.civili.../?p=3971
AAhhzz01
3 / 5 (2) Jan 24, 2010
Are you nuts? No one blamed the old storm.
And no one is blaming a new one on AGW.

Weather experts say West Coast storms could get more frequent and severe with climate change.

Sounds like they are prepared to lay blame to the next big storm on AWG ..more frequent and more severe pretty much makes the case doesnt it?
Parsec
3.4 / 5 (5) Jan 25, 2010
Republicans are like children. In the Republican rebuttal to Obama's State of the Union address last year, Jidell said that Volcano Monitoring was a typical example of the waste of government money. One of McCains punchlines was ridiculing Grizzly Bear census methods required by the endangered species act. Disaster planning is obviously wasted money, because it doesn't benefit anyone in power right now. By the time disaster does happen, find a scapegoat to blame.

It is the systematic emasculation of planning for the future under the guise of 'saving money' that wastes the most money in the long run.

Republicans are like children. For them... there is no long term.
freethinking
1 / 5 (1) Jan 25, 2010
Ormondotvos and Parsec. AGW proponents and Democrats are the ones who are unscientific and hate true, verifiable science. Remember Al Gore I invented the internet? See now how Obama is decimating hard science? See how UN scientists lie to affect political change they want?

http://www.dailym...ied.html

I have no doubt that if the once in a century storm hits California they will blame it on Global Warming. Science and truth have no meaning to the leftists.
Parsec
1 / 5 (1) Jan 25, 2010
I am a Democrat and love science. I also love getting the truth of things and true verifiable science. So freethinking, your conjecture is proven false by counter-example.

It is amazing to me that Al Gores statement on the internet has been so badly blown out of proportion. In fact, no one actually invented the internet. It arose from a Darpa funded seed project in the late 1960's and early 1970's that allowed scientists to send email to each other. IT kind've snowballed because then scientists wanted to send larger datasets than just email, and then someone invented HTML (which itself was a derivative from SGML) and the Tek editor (also the Dec product runoff). So the damn thing was a collaborative effort that Al Gore certainly contributed to by pushing for early funding for more expansive networks when he was a senator.
Parsec
1 / 5 (1) Jan 25, 2010
I would love to hear how Obama is decimating hard science. I have a lot of friends (and relatives) receiving funding that was increased by Obama who report exactly the opposite. However this is a tiny dataset and inherently unreliable. If you can supply hard budget figures (true verifiable ones) I would like to see them and am willing to change my mind on the subject.
Parsec
3 / 5 (2) Jan 25, 2010
Oh and broad sweeping generalizations about a entire group of people based on bad experiences with a few of them (all UN scientists lie to affect political change they want) is called prejudice. You need more data points to draw this kind of conclusion. It is certainly not what I would expect in anyone claiming to want acceptance of true verifiable science.

Be careful of the mud you sling. Its pretty sticky and it usually sticks best to the slinger.
MikeyK
not rated yet Jan 27, 2010
The storm was very interesting and is another story to add to the anecdotes of severe and extreme weather events in recent years. The low pressure readings were remarkable " The storm set all-time low pressure records over roughly 10 - 15% of the U.S.--over southern Oregon, and most of California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. Old records were broken by a wide margin in many locations,.."
An excellent summary of the event is here http://www.wunder...num=1418
For those who haven't looked at the website before it is the best for tracking the hurricanes during the season, off season Jeff Masters still reports on interesting weather events.
freethinking
1 / 5 (1) Jan 27, 2010
AGW has been shown time and time again to be based on bad science and is being used by leftist progressives to change society. Leftist progressives believe that it is ok to lie to achieve a goal. Whenever there is a major storm event progressives blame AGW. They use the statements this is the worst storm (or event) for 300 years and this proves AGW. Unfortuantely for them if you follow logic, 300 years ago (or whatever time frame you want to use) there was no AGW.
I am not a Republican, I am a independant, when Republicans make stupid statements I slam them.
If you are a Democrat, then make sure your party in not involved in fraud, manipulating science, and speaks the truth.

I want the parties to be honest. If they want to change society be honest about it, don't corrupt science, don't lie about your intentions.
MikeyK
not rated yet Jan 27, 2010
AGW has been shown ....is being used by leftist progressives to change society. Leftist progressives .. ok to lie ... progressives blame AGW..make sure your party in not involved in fraud, manipulating science, and speaks the truth.

I see the nutjob conspiracists are back in town...
freethinking
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 27, 2010
Interesting that AGW believers think those that are rational seekers of science and truth are nutjobs.

If we allow nutjob AGW scientists to have their way they will destroy the earth
http://www.physor...746.html

When AGW proponents are caught lying... its just a regrettable error
http://www.physor...246.html

When AGW proponents make glaring errors, who will notice?
http://www.physor...942.html

Who cares about the truth? If you believe AGW proponents and believers, I have a bridge to sell... cheap...

freethinking
1 / 5 (1) Jan 27, 2010
Oh, just found the following information how the climate scientist hid climate data. If the data is good why would he want to hid it?

http://www.timeso...4936.ece