Credit: Jacquetta Wehking
I tell my students on occasion that they live in a place that is relatively free of the most serious geological hazards. We are a fair distance from the earthquake faults that wreak havoc on the coastal cities (the San Andreas and Hayward faults, for instance). We mostly live on a river terrace so serious floods do not impact most of the city (the floodplain developments are an exception of course). We live far from volcanoes or steep slopes that can fail. But I also warn them that there is no place in the world that is entirely free of geologic hazards. I got reminded of that today. A tornado touched down just a few miles from my house, causing some serious damage, but thankfully no one was hurt. Friends were witness to the event. It was uncomfortably close.
there have been 403 confirmed events between 1950 and 2013. The majority have been weak, as only 25 of them reached EF2 or more. But they do happen, and there was enough energy in the latest storm to produce one this afternoon.
We've had three major storms in as many weeks, and they followed two weaker storms last month. The month is half over, but it is already the second wettest November in the twenty-five years I've been keeping records at my home east of Modesto in the Great Valley. We've received 2.48 inches, which is equivalent to nearly a fifth of year's normal precipitation. It would be nice if this were a harbinger of more storms to come. We've been in the throes of the worst drought in the historical record. Last year's snowpack in the Sierra Nevada amounted to less than five percent of normal. Our reservoirs are just about empty, and the shortfall would not be made up even if we had a record year of precipitation.