|Venice? No, Sacramento in 1862 (SFGate)|
the USGS lays out a case for a hypothetical "megastorm," one that could cause up to $725 billion in damage and impact a quarter of California's homes.Information like this puts the kibosh on dreams to purchase a get-away-from-earthquakes home in Sacramento. An underwater haven will do us no good. Something a bit higher might still be suitable, though driving there would be a problem.
The ARkStorm [Atmospheric River 1000] would bring with it catastrophic rains, hurricane-force winds and hundreds of landslides. Central Valley flooding alone is projected to span 300 miles.
If that sounds far-fetched, there's historic precedent: Geological evidence indicates that California endures massive flooding caused by atmospheric rivers every 100-200 years. And settlers who moved to California after the Gold Rush soon found what the native population had known for centuries: Northern California is prime flooding territory.
The most prominent example is the Great Flood of 1862, a natural disaster that still ranks as the largest flood in the history of the American West. Between Dec. 1861 and Jan. 1862, the West Coast received a near-constant deluge of rain. Sacramento received a stunning 23 inches in that period, turning the city into a watery ghost town.
The real takeaway is that scientists have a sense of humor. ARkstorm? Indeed.