November 20, 2018

"As firefighters keep battling the blazes, a new menace is emerging: debris flows. The rains are coming to California..."

"... as soon as Tuesday night, and the fires have primed the soil for another disaster that can claim yet more lives.... The problem is a fundamental change to the soil itself. When a wildfire burns vegetation, it releases organic compounds.... This soil normally absorbs water, but the organic compounds turn it hydrophobic, literally meaning 'fear of water.' It is not an understatement: You can pour a bottle of water on this burned soil and it’ll bead right off, as if the dirt were polished marble... Problem number two: vegetation anchors the soil.... The debris flow can carry boulders and trees along with mud, making it more dangerous than a regular flood or a dry landslide.... Boulders can also act like a moving dam, retarding the flow..... If you haven’t cleared out in time and the flow comes, the recommendation is to shelter in place—moving to the upper story of your house, for instance. Out on the streets is exactly where you don't want to be, as the flow follows those paths...."

From "California Fire Survivors Brace for Debris-Filled Mudslides" (Wired).

41 comments:

Paco Wové said...

OMG! A word literally means something!

Plus, a breathless report on a phenomenon that everybody already knows about!

Anonymous said...

The four seasons of California:
Fire
Mudslide
Earthquake
Riot

rhhardin said...

The ice menace so far is not a problem.

AllenS said...

Lars, I'm stealing that. I hope you don't mind.

Martin said...

So, the burnt spoil becomes rabid?

gspencer said...

Seems it never rains in southern California
Seems I've often heard that kind of talk before
It never rains in California, but girl don't they warn ya
It pours, man it pours

Albert Hammond said that.

Mattman26 said...

Don’t say “retarding.”

Leland said...

I'm sure am glad California has solved as these problems before spending money on high speed rail.

Expat(ish) said...

We have this picture of a gentle stream eroding the grand canyon over time.

Twas not so - it was the spring floods picking up boulders and smashing them against the ground and confining banks.

If not for the damming of that river it'd be, IIRC, about 100ft deeper now than it is.

Look for some good erosion around the rivers of Cali.

-XC

Sebastian said...

Once upon a time, Americans would have viewed these trials as evidence of divine judgment.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

The debris flow can carry boulders and trees along with mud, making it more dangerous than a regular flood or a dry landslide...

When the debris flow starts carrying sharks along with the mud, let me know. Until then, this ain't got nothin' on a sharknado.

rehajm said...

It means some of them will leave and infect places where normal people live.

EDH said...

It's like Old Man Quigley told Archie Bunker @21:12:

"A rolling stone... can give you a hell of a bruise."

Nonapod said...

Not to worry, the Democrat party controls California. I'm sure they'll fix things. I don't know about you guys but when I think of terms like "competency", "problem solving", "efficiency", and the opposite of corrupt... I think of Democrats.

MadisonMan said...

Next, in Wired: "As the snow falls on the streets, a new menace is emerging: Potholes."

Dust Bunny Queen said...

This is going to be pretty bad. It rains a LOT in Paradise due to the location on the East side of the Sacramento Valley, elevation, and terrain.

The year before I moved away from Paradise, we had 106 inches of rain/precipitation including a small amount of snow. 106 inches of rain

It never seemed to stop. It was horrible. I felt like the character in the Illustrated Man where if I just turned my face to the sky, I could drown. The Long Rain

Big Mike said...

Don't worry. Howard the educated fool will be alone any minute now to explain that water flows downhill, but only because of gravity.

Or some other non sequitur.

Yancey Ward said...

Just imagine Southern/Northern California after a 8-9 Richter earthquake if you want a vision of the apocalypse.

Jonathan Graehl said...

Not an impressive prediction. This *just* happened around Santa Barbara/Montecito after the Thomas fire. This is not really SoCal's rainy season but as for the bay area, sure, it will rain.

MayBee said...

But someday you'll be able to take a high speed train from somewhere to somewhere else.

Roger Sweeny said...

If California were discovered today, it would be declared off-limits to settlement because of all the danger. But it's not too late. Turn the state into a National Park and throw the invaders out. (And throw out the Natives, too. That's what always happens when you create a national park.)

Roger Sweeny said...

Expat(ish),

The Colorado River has made it down to very strong rock that does not erode easily. The Grand Canyon would not be much deeper today if the River had never been dammed.

Earnest Prole said...

Once upon a time, Americans would have viewed these trials as evidence of divine judgment

This disaster is occurring in the portion of California filled with Deplorables. Blaming them for their fate just seems cruel.

stever said...

Its not because of global warming - er I mean Climate Change - It is because some
people are skeptics. It is my fault - er I meant their fault.

Robert Cook said...

It's interesting to see how many assholes there are who think it clever to make witless jokes about the misery and misfortune of people they don't even know.

Bruce Hayden said...

“Just imagine Southern/Northern California after a 8-9 Richter earthquake if you want a vision of the apocalypse.”

Or, maybe just a good start.

“It's interesting to see how many assholes there are who think it clever to make witless jokes about the misery and misfortune of people they don't even know.”

I am trying to fit in something about a Darwin Award here.

gerry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Earnest Prole said...

I am trying to fit in something about a Darwin Award here.

As I alluded to above, the disaster area, like vast portions of California, are inhabited by people indistinguishable from the rest of Red America. Start here if you are the kind of person who requires a map before you can decide whether you should feel empathy for your fellow Americans.

stever said...


“It's interesting to see how many assholes there are who think it clever to make witless jokes about the misery and misfortune of people they don't even know.”

Likewise all the Jerry Browns of the world using the misery and misfortune of people to make a purely political jab.

Achilles said...

Robert Cook said...
It's interesting to see how many assholes there are who think it clever to make witless jokes about the misery and misfortune of people they don't even know.

Is that like mentioning someone supports the NRA right after they get shot.

California is being run by corrupt grifters. It is no wonder the place is turning into a shithole.

Mike Smyth said...

That's not a new phenomena. That was a fact of life when I was growing up in Pasadena during the 60's.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Cf John McPhee s "Control of Nature". 3 long essays.
Lava, Mississippi floods, fire and debris slides in SoCal.

Gospace said...

I seem to recall that when I lived in Southern California it only rained once a year. It rained for 3 months straight, but only once a year. If you planned a camping trip in June, July, or August, bringing raingear was a waste of space. It wasn't going to rain. No rain during the summer wan't a drought like it is here in CNY. It was the weather forecast.

Gospace said...

Expat(ish) said...
We have this picture of a gentle stream eroding the grand canyon over time.

Twas not so - it was the spring floods picking up boulders and smashing them against the ground and confining banks.

If not for the damming of that river it'd be, IIRC, about 100ft deeper now than it is.


If not for the diversion of flow to create power, Niagara Falls would be most of the way to being Niagara Rapids by now. Nothing to do with the topic at hand, but modern man harnessing nature does have quite an effect on some things.

DEEBEE said...

The rake says rake

gilbar said...

the secret secret is: it's not the drought (lack of rain) that's California's problem; it's the Rain

Shell Wyoming (a nice little town) receives (according to the resident that talked to me,) 2 inches of precipitation a year... in the form of snow.
You know what problems they DON'T have in Shell? Wildfires. Nope, not going to happen.

Rain makes Plants Grow, Rain makes Hills Flow. In a nice safe desert, things stay put.
{not like those terrible nasty deserts like they have in Arizona. You know another problem they don't have in Shell? Flash Floods}

MayBee said...

Robert Cook said...
It's interesting to see how many assholes there are who think it clever to make witless jokes about the misery and misfortune of people they don't even know.


If you are referring to me, I actually do know these people. My heart aches for them.
But I think the government of California badly mismanages its resources, both financial and natural. A coastal state always in drought. Billions or trillions being spent on a train boondoggle instead of fending off this kind of misery and misfortune.

Big Mike said...

@Maybee, Cookie emotes over these people, but he doesn’t actually care about them.

Soniya Bajaj said...

I'm shakshi.I am working in India top most Escort service Mumbai Call girls.If u want to join the all facility of escorts Puri call girls
pls call me & whatssap Cuttack call girls
visit the sites. Bhubaneswar call girls


Puja Kumari said...

Escort Service in Gurgaon
Bangalore escorts
Escort Service in Mumbai
Call girls in Gurgaon
==========================
Gurgaon escorts
Bangalore escorts
Mumbai escorts
Gurgaon escorts
============================
Bangalore call girls
Gurgaon call girls
Gurgaon call girls
Mumbai call girls
==============================
Escort service in Gurgaon
Escort service in Gurgaon
Escort service in Mumbai
Escorts in Bangalore
Call girl in Gurgaon
call girls in lucknow
lucknow escorts service
call girls in guwahati
guwahati call girls
guwahati escorts
escorts in guwahati

Yechiel said...

Heh...time to make like Lex Luthor and invest in property on the land flanking the San Andreas Fault to the east...