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California Could See Storm Damages Costing A Billion Dollars Each Year

Storm clouds over Ocean Beach, November 19, 2019.

Photo by Matt Hoffman

Above: Storm clouds over Ocean Beach, November 19, 2019.

Newly published research from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography finds certain storm systems have the potential to cause severe flooding damage in California.

The study, published Wednesday in the journal Scientific Advances, predicts the state could endure flooding that causes a billion dollars worth of damage each year.

The weather phenomenon known as atmospheric rivers can be beneficial if it is mild, like the one that passed through San Diego this week. But the storm track can pummel the state with torrential rains.

RELATED: San Diego Catholic Leaders Get Grim Picture On Climate Change From Scripps Scientist

“They are literally rivers of moisture that flow through the sky, transporting up to 15 times the volume of the Mississippi River,” said Tom Corringham, a research economist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Those airborne rivers carry moisture from tropical regions to California, and the intensity of the storms is expected to increase as the planet’s climate warms.

“Recent research indicates that atmospheric rivers are getting longer wider and wetter as the century progresses due to human-caused global warming and climate change,” Corringham said. “And our research shows that even a modest increase in the intensity of atmospheric rivers can have outsized impacts in terms of economic damages.”

Listen to this story by Erik Anderson.


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Photo of Erik Anderson

Erik Anderson
Environment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI focus on the environment and all the implications that a changing or challenging environment has for life in Southern California. That includes climate change, endangered species, habitat, urbanization, pollution and many other topics.

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