Since the very end of December of 2022, the state of California has undergone a mass flooding crisis, with areas such as Sacramento, San Francisco, and most of Central California being devastated by the record rain that has been seen for the past few weeks. Because of this flooding crisis, there have been a minimum of 17 people killed due to severe storms, flooding, and more.
Causes and What Lead Up to Flooding Crisis
Rising sea levels and extreme weather events have been more frequent and dangerous recently. In a questionnaire I made to get insight into these causes, a fellow student in AP Environmental Science here at Otay has particular knowledge and experience in researching the environment and why severe weather crises like this happen. For further context, weather storms and periods of large rainfall is not unknown to California, as “California has a history of sudden storms through their drought, in 1964, 1969, 1982, 1986, 1995, and 2005”. However, the severity has only increased over the years, “as the increasing temperature of the atmosphere can have a significant effect on the variability of weather, making it less predictable.”
@San Francisco Chronicle
Environmental Impact and Damage From the Flooding
Photographs of the disaster, as seen above, occur due to a natural phenomenon of California known as the “El niño and La niña cycles” where the “La niña” cycle brings “extreme drought and deprivation of warm coastal waters that usually bring abundant sea life for industrial use”, as we have seen in droughts across California until the recent storm and extreme rainfall, which suggests that “the atmospheric river could have been enhanced by a return of the El niño cycle, which is associated with warm sea temperatures in the Pacific”. Overall, the general cause and reason why California is experiencing such intense rain despite the severe droughts beforehand is the water cycle and wind patterns, water that travels through the air from the pacific is not foreign to California”.
However, the atmospheric rivers aren’t a reason why the recent rain storms have caused over $1 billion in damages across California as severe flooding has affected 90% of California residents in areas with flood warnings. The current water systems and sewage in place throughout California have been accustomed to the conditions of the “La niña” cycle’s extreme droughts, leaving us unprepared for the record-breaking amount of rainfall that has been seen in California in the past month. The lack of proper drainage and preventative measures to deal with the heavy rainfall have left many large and populated cities across California in a flooding crisis.
What is Being Done To Aid California Flooding Victims
On a brighter note, there is action being taken by Governor Newsom and President Biden to aid California residents who are being impacted by this with President Biden accepting Governor Newsom’s request to officially announce a “Presidential Major Disaster Declaration, which aids Californians in the rebuilding and funding of damaged infrastructure.” Hopefully, with this declaration made, the damages and severity of the flooding will not only fix the damages that have been done, but prepare all of California if something like this happens again.