California is at risk of suffering weather “whiplash” and severe rainfall, bringing floods, is expected after the recent drought.
A recent study published in the journal Nature Climate Change reports that climate change will bring more extreme shifts in weather patterns, driving hot and dry summers and wet winters in the most populous U.S. state.
According to lead author Daniel Swain of the University of California, global warming is also expected to affect other regions with similar climates such as southern Europe and parts of Australia. He further said that an opposing trend toward a strong Pacific jet stream is projected to locally enhance precipitation during the core months of the ‘rainy season’” in California.
The report notes that “natural precipitation variability in this region is already large, and projected future whiplash increases would amplify existing swings between dry and wet years”. The authors projected a “25% to 100% increase in extreme dry-to-wet precipitation events” within the 21st century.
The study found that major urban centers, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, were “more likely than not” to be the recipient of a series of strong storms by 2060 that’s comparable to the ones that happened in 1861-1862 and led to the “Great Flood”.
The storms flooded an area 300 miles long and 20 miles wide, particularly affecting the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, and washed away bridges, destroyed farms and swamped mines. According to the study, a repeat “would probably lead to considerable loss of life and economic damages approaching a trillion dollars”.
Torrential rain and flooding followed the 2010 – 2016 California drought, prompting the evacuation of almost 200,000 residents near the Oroville Dam last year as a precaution.
Swain said the state should expand the use of floodplains that can be used as a buffer during flooding, like the Yolo Bypass which is used by Sacramento.
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