'Superstorm' could devastate California

LOS ANGELES, March 7 (UPI) -- A superstorm that could hit California once every 200 years would devastate the state's economy worse than during the Great Recession, an economist says.

Total property damage and business interruption costs of such a hurricane-like rainstorm would be nearly $1 trillion, researchers say. University of Southern California research Professor Adam Rose calculated the lost production of goods and services alone would be $627 billion of the total over five years, a USC release said Monday.


That number would make the severe storm scenario "the costliest disaster in the history of the United States," Rose said.

The estimates are based on a storm simulation U.S. Geological Survey scientists termed "ARkStorm -- or "atmospheric river storm" -- patterned after West Coast storms that devastated California in 1861-62. Those storms lasted for 45 days, forming lakes in the Mojave Desert and the Los Angeles Basin.

The state was left bankrupt after the storms wiped out nearly a third of the its taxable land, the USGS said. But those storms were no freak event, USGS scientists said, calling the ARkStorm model "plausible, perhaps inevitable."

Rose called the severe storm scenario "much more imaginable" after 9.42 inches of rain hit Los Angeles in December.


It was the wettest December in downtown Los Angeles in more than a century, researchers said.

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