Floods and Quakes: Could there be a connection? Some geophysicists think so

Salton Sea

Important Takeaways:

  • Floods linked to San Andreas quakes
  • Historical record underscores connections between reservoirs and seismic activity.
  • Geophysicists have linked historical earthquakes on the southern section of California’s famed San Andreas fault to ancient floods from the nearby Colorado River.
  • The work has broad implications for understanding how floods or reservoirs relate to quakes — a topic that gained new relevance in 2008, after a massive earthquake in China’s Sichuan province killed more than 80,000 people. Some geologists have proposed that impounding water behind a newly built dam there helped hasten the quake.
  • Now, new work in southern California suggests that at least three times in the past 2,000 years, the weight of river water spreading across floodplains seems to have helped trigger earthquakes in the region.
  • The team subsequently analyzed data from 20-metre-deep cores pulled from the lake bed in 2003 during earlier work for the US Bureau of Reclamation. The cores showed layers of coarse sandy material laid down during floods — at the same time that seismic activity was known to have occurred.
  • “We found quakes happened about every 100 to 200 years and were correlated with floods,” says Brothers. “The Colorado River spills, loads the crust and then there is a rupture.” He says the team is “very confident” in its evidence for the existence of three flood-derived quakes, of roughly magnitude 6, which happened about 600 years ago, 1,100 years ago and 1,200–1,900 years ago. “Sediments don’t lie,” he says.
  • A quake of about magnitude 7 struck the southern San Andreas fault about 300 years ago; the next is a century overdue. One possible reason is the Hoover Dam: since its completion in 1936, the lower Colorado no longer floods.

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California surface water and reservoirs have been refilled but now the question is how it will be managed

California Water

Revelations 13:16-18 “Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Water Worries: CA Groundwater Mismanagement Puts Farmers and Food Supplies at Risk
  • After a historic wet winter, California’s reservoirs and surface water are overflowing. However, state officials are in a race to prevent farmlands from becoming barren deserts as the state’s groundwater is being pumped out at an alarming rate.
  • The state went from one of the worst droughts in more than 1,000 years to a record-breaking rain and snowpack. The entire state is virtually drought-free, for now. Water experts call this oscillating weather pattern the ‘California Whiplash.’
  • “(Weather patterns) are swinging back-and-forth at a greater frequency and magnitude, largely due to an increase in temperature,” said Paul Gosselin, deputy director for California’s Department of Water Resources.
  • The Gold Coast is America’s largest agricultural producer, generating a third of the nation’s vegetables and three-quarters of the fruits and nuts. The current water influx offers much-needed nurturing for local farms.
  • As for Fresno’s Irrigation District, Claes expects about 4.5-million-acre feet of water to run off nearby Kings River, thanks to the extraordinary winter rain and snowfall. Still, only about half of that can be collected in underground basins and aquifers due to aging infrastructure and the unprecedented amount of water.
  • Groundwater levels have been plummeting in some regions for over a century. Dry years force farms and cities to rely so much on groundwater – in some cases, wells run dry, and the ground physically sinks. Projections estimate vast amounts of farmland could become worthless in the next 20 years.
  • “If land becomes fallowed in California, that means there’s less food being grown, and we are the breadbasket of the world,” explained Claes.

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California Reservoirs are refilling after atmospheric rivers dumped water in the region

Luke 21:25 ““And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves

Important Takeaways:

  • Water, water everywhere! Stunning photos show how historic California storms have refilled once-depleted reservoirs in drought-prone Golden State
  • California has experienced at least 11 atmospheric rivers this year, leading to a significant amount of rain and snowfall
  • The weather system has replenished the state’s once-depleted reservoirs after years of drought
  • 12 of California’s 17 major reservoirs are filled above their historical averages for the start of spring
  • The storms have created one of the biggest snowpacks on record in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The snowpack’s water content is 239 percent of its normal average and nearly triple in the southern Sierra, according to state data.

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Research shows areas affected by severe wildfire actually speeds up snow melt and ability to reclaim that water during dry season’s increasing drought

Luke 21:25-26 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Important Takeaways:

  • Wildfires are increasingly burning California’s snowy landscapes and colliding with winter droughts to shrink California’s snowpack
  • A new study shows that midwinter dry spells lead to dramatic losses of winter snowpack in burned areas
  • The early pandemic years overlapped with some of California’s worst wildfires on record, creating haunting, orange-tinted skies and wide swathes of burned landscape. Some of the impacts of these fires are well known, including drastic declines in air quality, and now a new study shows how these wildfires combined with midwinter drought conditions to accelerate snowmelt.
  • The enhanced snowmelt midwinter creates challenges for forecasting water availability from the natural snowpack reservoir. During the winter months, water managers need to leave room in reservoirs to prevent flooding; this means that earlier snowmelt may not be captured for later use in the dry season.
  • This study really highlights the importance of bringing fire back onto our landscape in the sense that we need fire — good fire is the answer to our wildfire problem,” Hatchett says. “Bringing a more natural regime of fire, through prescribed and cultural fire, back onto our landscape will help reduce the likelihood of future severe fire.”

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Wildfires now reaching higher altitudes that are usually colder and wetter: Find out what that means

Luke 21:11 “There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Wildfires are burning away the West’s snow
  • Researcher Stephanie Kampf’s team set out to determine whether more wildfires are burning at high elevations. The answer is unequivocally yes. And the consequences are dramatic: Snow in wildfire-burned areas is melting 18 to 24 days earlier than average.
  • The snowpack is critical… it contributes 20% to 90% of surface water used for agriculture, energy production, aquatic species habitat and more.
  • “What this study shows nicely is that fires are moving into places that we would think of as being more resistant because they’re cooler and wetter”
  • The study also found that snow in burned areas contains less water
  • Downstream water managers might need to prepare for an earlier melt-off that will contribute to reservoirs much earlier than needed.

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Going into summer, reservoir conditions are critically low

Leviticus 26:18-20 “And if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins, and I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. And your strength shall be spent in vain, for your land shall not yield its increase, and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit.

Important Takeaways:

  • It’s not even summer, and California’s two largest reservoirs are at ‘critically low’ levels
  • In the U.S. Drought Monitor’s latest report, officials described both reservoir conditions as “critically low” going into the summer.
  • Shasta Lake, which rises more than 1,000 feet above sea level when filled to the brim, is at less than half of where it usually should be in early May
  • Lake Oroville, the largest reservoir in the State Water Project, a roughly 700-mile lifeline that pumps and ferries water all the way to Southern California, is currently at 55% of total capacity.
  • Along the Colorado River, projections show that the nation’s two largest reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, are reaching a shortage so severe that larger water cuts are likely in 2023 for Arizona, Nevada and Mexico — and at some point, California.

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Harvey storm-water releases were unlawful government takings: lawsuits

FILE PHOTO: Water bubbles up from a sewer cover in an affluent neighborhood in the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey on the west side of Houston, Texas, U.S., September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

By Bryan Sims

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Owners of homes flooded during Hurricane Harvey are claiming billions of dollars in damages by federal and state water releases from storm-swollen reservoirs, using a legal tack pursued without success in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.

Several lawsuits filed in federal and state courts in Texas claim properties were taken for public use without compensation. The lawsuits name the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a state agency responsible for water releases. The potential damages could run as high as $3 billion, according to attorneys involved.

“No one expects your government is going to deliberately do something that is going to flood your home,” said Rhonda Pearce, 56. Her west Houston home was damaged by flooding from reservoir dam releases and she is considering legal action, she said.

“Homes were literally being swept away,” said Derek Potts, a Houston-based lawyer representing plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in Harris County court against the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) in a Texas court. His lawsuits are seeking class action status and could involve thousands of homes and businesses.

Water released from a lake into the San Jacinto River was lawful and area flooding “was neither caused by or made worse” by those releases, the SJRA said in a statement. Similar claims from an earlier storm were dismissed in court, it said.

The Army Corps of Engineers referred questions to the U.S. Department of Justice, which declined to comment.

Potts said there are more than 1,000 homes valued at between $750,000 and $1 million, that could be covered by the lawsuit against the SJRA, putting potential damages in that case in the billions of dollars.

Similar cases last decade that argued the government improperly took property when levees failed in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 were unsuccessful, said Robert R. M. Verchick, an environmental law professor at Loyola College of Law in New Orleans.

“The Katrina plaintiffs tried to the do the same thing – and they lost,” Verchick said. “In some ways this is going to follow the same path.”

Christopher Johns, an attorney who has filed two lawsuits in U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., said his firm has been contacted by hundreds of other homeowners. A 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision involving flooding have opened the door to winning such claims, he said.

Megan Strickland, a plaintiff in one of the federal lawsuits, said while it is difficult to immediately quantify the damage to her home, many of her neighbors are in a similar situation.

“We don’t know if our neighborhood will be coming back again,” Strickland said.

(Reporting by Bryan Sims and David Gaffen; Writing by Gary McWilliams; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)