Scientists map out super-storm

Preparing for the worst in California

California residents have been buzzing since the U.S. Geological Survey released a hypothetical but plausible storm scenario that would overwhelm existing emergency-response systems and cause flood damage to an estimated one in four homes, according to a USGS press release.

The ARkStorm Scenario was presented at a Sacramento summit in mid-January following two years of development by more than 100 scientists and experts. The storm is modeled after what would happen if two historic storms (January 1969 and February 1986) had occurred back-to-back. Scientists estimate the storm would produce up to 10 feet of rain and cause more than $300 billion in damage.

The scenario will now act as a platform on which disaster, water and geology authorities can develop a scaling system for West Coast storms, as well as work to improve national and local emergency-response plans.