Researcher Warns Of Possible California ‘Super-Storm’

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Pacifica Pier

Waves roll under the Pacifica Pier (CBS)

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan begs the question of how prepared the state of California is for a natural disaster.

Researchers have found that a “super-storm” is likely to strike the state every 100 or 200 years, bringing continuous rain for days and the possibility of hurricane-strength wind gusts of up to 125 miles per hour.

Adam Rose, a research professor at the University of Southern California School of Policy, Planning and Development, has calculated what a massive rainstorm like this would do to California.

“You would have flooding in the Central Valley 300 miles long and 20 miles wide. You’d have floods and landslides in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Area,” said Rose.

KCBS’ Larry Chiaroni Reports:

Rose said the damage by such a huge storm would be six times the cost of Katrina or 9/11 in terms of business interruption.

“$627 billion over a five year period and in the first year, the potential to increase unemployment in the state by another six percent,” he said.

But Rose said that history shows that after such disasters, California’s economy tends to bounce back.

“There’s (normally) an incredible amount of resilience among people and our institutions, including the economy,” he said.

A “super-storm” devastated California in 1861-62, lasting 45 days and forming lakes in the Mojave Desert and the Los Angeles Basin. The U.S. Geological Survey found that it left the state bankrupt after wiping out nearly a third of California’s taxable land.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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