On Christmas Eve in 1861 a giant Pacific storm moved into California. It rained for the next 43 days, and when it was over the central valley had been turned into inland sea 300 miles long. The January Scientific American examines the history of this event.
For most of the years since 1861 it has been viewed simply as a “freak storm,” and the public has largely forgotten about it. However, climate scientists have recently gained a much more detailed understanding of how “atmospheric rivers” (the infamous “Pineapple Express” is just one) create these super-flood conditions. Further, they have uncovered solid evidence that storms of this magnitude have hit the state roughly every 200 years. Continue Reading →