Super Storms are combinations of wind and persistent rain. What makes them “super” is the duration at which they last. California at the moment is at a probable target for such a storm that could even last 40 days. AP has been quoted saying that “The storm would be goaded on by an “atmospheric river” that would move water “at the same rate as 50 Mississippis discharging water into the Gulf of Mexico”. See attach links for more info.
The reason “super storms” are in the news right now is due to a recent conference presented in January 2011 by a joint venture of the U.S Geological Survey, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the California Emergency Management Agency. The purpose of the conference was to highlight the theoretical potential for such a storm to hit California. The conference organizers were also hoping to instigate preparations to be put in place to mitigate the projected potential economic damage of such a storm, estimated at up to $300 billion. This damage estimate is greater than the storms that routinely hit the SE coast of the U.S, and is a reason for calling attenion to the potential for a natural disastor distinct from the normally expected earthquakes in California.
According to the National Hurricane Center of the National Weather Service, there is no current storm forming in the East Pacific.
One great example of a superstorm was the “Storm of the Century” that hit the entire east coast of the United States, Cuba and Canada in 1993, causing 270-320 deaths and 6 billion dollars of damage. For three days it ravaged the country with hail, sleet, flash flooding and tornadoes. Major airports and highways were shut down, some places experienced 65 foot waves, 130mph winds, and a 45 degree drop in temperature in 18 hours.
Note that “California at the moment is at a probable target” does not mean that such a storm is imminent, or even specifically forecast. It means that one could occur sometime in the next 100 years, or less, or more.
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