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'Megastorm' could hit area as hard as a 'quake

Original post made on Feb 25, 2010

An unimaginably big "megastorm" could hit the Bay Area and California as hard or harder than an earthquake, a researcher with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) warned Thursday in Menlo Park.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, February 25, 2010, 6:40 PM

Comments (36)

Posted by Ima frayed
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 25, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Time to pack up your personal belongings, and head for high ground


Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 25, 2010 at 7:51 pm


Many agencies such as the USGS, EPA, WWF, WHO have a vested interest in promoting fear so they can ask for more money.

The "Inconvenient Reality" for many of these agencies is that they have lost credibility by cooking the books on the so called scientific data.

They may, in fact, never regain the brand and credibility they once had, before the scandals and frauds involving environmental and related fields became public.

The fact that these agencies have hidden the frauds and refused to condemn now they are public makes their fate much worse.

We feel particularly sorry for the grad students who have wasted years of their time, emotion and money on what turns out to be pseudo- science.

Shame on their professors.


Posted by read Sharon's previous posts
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 25, 2010 at 8:09 pm

That's right. Bad, bad government. Free market will solve everything, if only we just trust it more. All our problems are because we've held back from letting corporations control EVERYTHING. Yeah, that'll make us really prepared for disaster.


Posted by hmmm
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 25, 2010 at 8:15 pm

"many of these agencies is that they have lost credibility by cooking the books on the so called scientific data"

Dontcha just love how "conservatives" get government to do things their way, especially eviscerating watchdog agencies, then when it produces the inevitable bad outcomes, they get to blame "government" ineptitude.


Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 25, 2010 at 8:59 pm

What, exactly, was the purpose of publishing this report?

There have been big storms in the past, and there will be big storms in the future. Is this some sort of surprise?

Dah....


Posted by opus
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 25, 2010 at 9:18 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 25, 2010 at 9:58 pm

I tend to these "what if?" scenarios are not really wise, and indeed, downright ghoulish. There are so many other real problems we face daily that we (and especially our children) don't need to be frightened by "worst possible" imaginings. If these Noah's Ark storms come to pass it will clearly be a cluster &*@% and what can we do? Stock up on extra cans of soup?


Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 25, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Sorry--should read "I tend to think...."


Posted by Ed
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 25, 2010 at 10:11 pm

I'll start by noting that I don't work for USGS or any of the agencies that Sharon mentions (actually, I don't work for the government at all, nor do any of my close relatives). With that out of the way, I'd like to note that I find Sharon's posting, to put it politely -- absurd.

The USGS has a long history of excellent research on a broad variety of topics, many of which should be of special interest to Sharon as a resident of this seismicly active area. Much of what we understand about earthquakes (which yes, is much more than we knew a few decades ago) is by virtue of their work. It means we have safer buildings, we have better predictive models, and more. Do we have a lot more to learn? As for feeling sorry for grad students -- I wouldn't worry about it Sharon. I'm sure they feel lucky to find their way to an excellent institution like USGS.


Posted by CONFUSED
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 26, 2010 at 1:48 am

wow....first earthquake, then global warming, now a megastrom that we read in the bible...shet whats next thr rise of the dinosaurs...i think, the Alein excuse is better...we will have the transformers defend our planet, cause we cant go to Pandora yet


Posted by Agree with Jim and Nora
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 26, 2010 at 6:17 am

Jim and Nora: Agreed..this is a "so what" story. So, I gotta ask, what for?

Follow the money or the agenda.

Slow news day? News worth trying to hide? Distraction? Seeking money? What on earth is the purpose?

All the same stuff..we are all going to die from global warming, send money and I will save you..we are all going to die from starvation, send money to me and I will save you...we are all going to die from Swine Flu, send money to me and I will save you, we are all going to hell, send money to me and I will save you.....blah blah blah..the sky is falling and we are all going to die. I await the next "send money to me so I can save you"...




Posted by Sean
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 26, 2010 at 10:14 am

The papers will read that "while the megastorm produced record rains we are still in a drought"


Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2010 at 10:33 am

Focus on the real natural hazard in this area....earthquakes. While it's true that we get some landslides and flooding in years of high precip, we're getting better at dealing with the annoyances and property destruction they sometimes cause.

We have a Mediterranean climate --- and are SO lucky. The probability of a megastorm is AT LEAST 3 standard deviations away from the mean.

Take a look at the climates in the rest of the US and the rest of the world, for heaven's sake. Most of the globe endures deserts, or monsoons, typhoons, blizzards, etc. Thousands die from the regular disasters that come from their unlucky location and economic status.

Geez, the "concerns" on these pages are so narrow. Guess that without a terrible accident or fire it's an especially slow local news day.


Posted by Jenny
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2010 at 11:49 am

I think it was 1982 we experienced cyclone force winds and torrential rain storms. I was living in the hills at the time and my family room and kitchen were flooded.

We ended up paying for a very elaborate drain field to be build round the side of the house which the new owners filled in with mountains of dirt during the drought years of the 1990s!! So be it, it ain't my problem anymore!!


Posted by Jesse
a resident of Ventura
on Feb 26, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Next they'll tell us a really big quake is coming someday. Warmies will say anything to scare us into believing their agenda.


Posted by GaleStorm
a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Short on good stories lately much? Had to dig out another doomsday scenario to decorate the front page? Megastorm, Rise of the Dark Clouds, Part 7. Pahleez


Posted by Michele
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 26, 2010 at 3:01 pm

This actually sounds like normal winter weather in the Southeast - we used to call it "monsoon season." Californians are just used to perfect weather.

I do agree that earthquake preparedness is a necessary thing to do, that too few of us have done. Think back to the power outage last week (another thing that frequently happens in coastal NC.) What didn't you have that you needed? Then go get it.


Posted by Lucas
a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2010 at 3:45 pm

A few things...

Many have called this a "so what" story, I think they have missed the point. The author glossed over the actual newsy part of the story, which is the mechanism of action for these storms, the "atmospheric river." Knowing more about the mechanism allows us to be better prepared. If we see an atmospheric river forming, people can be warned ahead of time, and yes, stock up on soup. Believe it or not, having enough food is a key part of surviving natural disasters.

Second, many people believe that these agencies are looking out for their interests by researching potential disasters, and I think that is largely true. If I were running one of these agencies, I would not research mundane phenomena that had no chance of impacting anyone's life in a meaningful way. No, I would research disasters because those are the things that can KILL people. I don't think we need to have a debate about whether or not disasters can kill people, right? They have many times in the past, and they will again. Whether or not you believe that global warming will increase the frequency of these disasters, I'm sure we can all agree that disasters will happen again. Let me say that again. Disasters will happen again. DISASTERS WILL HAPPEN AGAIN. The point of the article is to disclose a scientific observation (however small) that may help us predict these disasters. Is there anyone out there who DOES NOT want to be able to predict a horrible disaster before it happens?

To anyone who doubts that science can predict disasters, look at hurricanes. We have satellites in the sky that tell us where a hurricane is, and although we cannot predict its EXACT course, we can see it coming days in advance and give people time to prepare. We used this data in 2005 when Hurricane Rita was on its way to New Orleans and there was a question of whether or not Katrina evacuees should return to their homes. They didn't, and this was because of scientific prediction technology.

I hope this clears up the debate for everybody.


Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2010 at 4:43 pm


Quote
" If I were running one of these agencies, I would not research mundane phenomena that had no chance of impacting anyone's life in a meaningful way"

In fact the problem is with agencies manufacturing artificial disasters and faking the science to generate funding and become political partisan agents rather than scientists.

The USGS used to be a credible agency, on earthquakes in particular.

They are now clearly trying to profit from the global warming scam in this report--- a little late as the bubble has burst.

USGS should stick to geology, they have no expertize on weather nor climate Web Link


The UN climate agencies, the WWF etc, etc have lost all credibility in the AGW scam.
It is a shame to see the USGS tarnish its previously credible, evidence based, scientific reputation in this way.

The USGS should get back to science and engineering and leave hype and politics behind.

We feel sad for the graduate students who have wasted their lives on the AGW scam on the advise of their professors.
Tenure should be terminated in the egregious cases.


Posted by Jesse
a resident of Ventura
on Feb 26, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Sharon sees through all this warmie hoorah everytime. She is right. The USGS is controlled by the warmie cabals which is what most scientists are. If they are wrong about the climate they must be wrong about the atmospheric river and everything else like those earthquakes they tell us to get ready for so they can go get all that government money. That means no more earthquakes. The last big quake over here was in 1988 before all this warmie propaganda hit the fan, and that proves it. Thank you Sharon. I will sleep lots better.


Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2010 at 7:32 pm



Our view is that science should be separate from politics and religion.

This Global Warming Fraud has now been proved to be a scam for money

This same fraud became a political movement, in colleges this has defrauded many graduate students.

These students have a legal case to sue for fraud.

We will support these students in their legitimate legal actions.

Any tenured academic who was involved in this this AGW fraud should be prosecuted and will be, why do you think Gore has been out of the view.
we were at the Apple meeting yesterday, he is in in serious trouble,


Posted by Drill, Baby, Drill
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 26, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Hear, hear, Sharon! I say we send all the professors that teach anything environmental to Gitmo for life. And they should have all there millions earned in teaching about recycling, pollution, etc. confiscated and used to fund re-education camps for their students, so that they will then know that its OK to litter and pollute, waste water and gasoline, spray pesticides everywhere, rely just on nuclear power, and kill critters just for the heck of it! Hear, hear!


Posted by Ed
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 26, 2010 at 11:37 pm

Yes, Sharon must also see that these same fraudelent "scientists" have conspired with others studying increasing acidification of the oceans. Oh, and the chemists who are pursuing huge sums of money by faking diagrams in chemistry books to deceive students into thinking that CO2 can impact the oceans. How they got the corals, protists, mollusks and other organisms to respond to changes in experiments is a fascinating story. Each one was told they would receive a share of the loot, and thus they conformed to these obviously false models of carbonate chemistry. Sue the snails!


Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 27, 2010 at 2:20 am

The 8.8 earthquake today in Chile fortunately killed only 16 people, in contrast to the thousands killed in Haiti.

The USGS should focus upon real science such as earthquakes.Web Link

and drop the pseudo- science of AGW like a hot potato.




Posted by Cry Wolf
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 27, 2010 at 5:02 am

Lucas, I appreciated your sincere post.

Predicting the course of a Hurricane has become much better, thanks to science.

Our reaction is the issue..if we choose to head for high ground ( or not, such as Katrina), if we choose to stock up on food, water, warm shelter ( for earthquakes) etc, defines the extent of the disaster's effect on us.

However, I believe that the "sky is falling" constant barrage of "news" is turning us into the people who heard Peter cry wolf too often, and most of us are turning off...


Posted by Mega What?
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 27, 2010 at 6:45 am

Will the megastorm be in HD or 3D?

Lets do real science, when did we last have a megastorm in the bay area.


Posted by Len
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 27, 2010 at 7:26 am

Of course there will be mega storms in the future because there have been mega storms in the past, one every forty to fifty years.

We have had tornadoes (one destroyed 2 homes in Sunnyvale) hurricanes typhoons, and cyclones in our history, they will happen again. You may just lose your roof, but hey, life goes on!!


Posted by zev goldman
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 27, 2010 at 4:07 pm

“It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong”
Richard Feynman


Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Sharon,

I'm not sure why you think that only 16 people have died in the Chile earthquake. As of Saturday at 5:30 PM PST, the number is currently 216 and counting, sadly:

Web Link

By the way, if you want to read some science data on climate, try this website:

Web Link


Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2010 at 5:44 pm

The Reuters article quoted above is pretty interesting:

"The government said at least 214 people were killed in the 8.8-magnitude quake, which struck at 3:34 a.m. (0634 GMT), sending people rushing from their beds and onto the streets in fear, hugging each other and crying.

"'It came in waves and lasted so long. Three minutes is an eternity. We kept worrying that it was getting stronger, like a terrifying Hollywood movie,' said Santiago housewife Dolores Cuevas.

"Chilean officials said the number of deaths was unlikely to increase dramatically, and a U.S. Geological Survey researcher attributed the low toll to Chile's solid building standards.

"But it was the fifth-largest earthquake since 1900 ..."


One might note that the government-required building standards probably saved hundreds of thousands of lives-- compare the much lower magnitude Haitian quake. I'm sure pure free-market fundamentalists will decry the government market interference in Chile that prevented, oh, say, 200,000 dead ...



Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 27, 2010 at 7:49 pm



The initial report by the BBC at around 3am Pacific last night was that only 16 had died, of course it was going to rise but the earthquake Chile was about 1000times stronger than the one in Haiti.

The poor building codes in Haiti are a result of corruption, the US embassy their was built to code and was not damaged.

Building codes make sense in free market economies, the insurance industry will impose them.
Public safety and defense are key roles of every capitalist democratic government.

The USGS knows a lot about geology, hence the name.

They are not experts on climate and they would be wise to stay away from the AGW Tar Baby


Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 27, 2010 at 7:50 pm



The initial report by the BBC at around 3am Pacific last night was that only 16 had died, of course it was going to rise but the earthquake Chile was about 1000times stronger than the one in Haiti.

The poor building codes in Haiti are a result of corruption, the US embassy their was built to code and was not damaged.

Building codes make sense in free market economies, the insurance industry will impose them.
Public safety and defense are key roles of every capitalist democratic government.

The USGS knows a lot about geology, hence the name.

They are not experts on climate and they would be wise to stay away from the AGW Tar Baby


Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 28, 2010 at 12:59 pm

"Building codes make sense in free market economies, the insurance industry will impose them."

Pure right wing fantasy. Insurance companies will underwrite earthquake losses only with extreme reluctance (like under government mandate), let alone devise and "impose" earthquake building codes.


Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 28, 2010 at 1:16 pm



Building codes are a good practice.

Socialist countries like the USSR and China have a terrible record on building codes and have earthquake disasters as a logical result.

A corrupt kleptocracy, like Haiti,has the same outcome as socialist states in the face of natural disasters.

So does a corrupt kleptocracy city, like New Orleans.


Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 28, 2010 at 10:29 pm

Any government that implements building codes is socialist to at least that degree. Building codes are a direct interference with the free market. In a true free market, builders choose how strong to make their buildings in response to economic considerations, and everyone else chooses to take their chances in an earthquake.

As any free market economist can tell you, builders who build buildings that collapse and kill their customers will, in principle, go out of business (unless they quit or retire before the quake hits). But, unfortunately for the free market, most people don't care to die for a free market. They compromise their principles and demand socialistic building codes. To wit: "Building codes are a good practice."


Posted by Ed
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 28, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Sharon, your logic is flawed again. The USSR was far more communist/totalitarian than "socialist" despite their propaganda to the contrary. China is absurdly capitalist/authoritarian right now and their building codes, while better than they were at the height of communism are hardly a model of "socialism".

You want socialist building codes? Try Sweden or the UK or many of the EU countries. Based on your postings, those are clearly extremely socialist by your way of thinking (e.g, socialized medicine, lots of central government authority, high taxes, etc). I'm not to concerned about building quality in those countries.

As you say, building codes are good practice, but pure capitalism isn't going to get you there as per Paul's comments. The other issue is the time scale. If there were no building codes, sure, the free market might get around to punishing bad builders and rewarding the good. However, you'd have to step over a lot of dead bodies in the interim. As far as building codes go -- bring on the socialism.


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