The storms caused severe flooding, turning the Sacramento Valley into an inland sea,
forcing the State Capital to be moved from Sacramento to San Francisco for a time, and requiring Governor Leland Stanford to take a rowboat to his inauguration.
Truly prodigious rains resulted, with the mining town of Sonora receiving 8.5 feet of rain over a 2-month period !
William Brewer, author of “Up and down California,” wrote on January 19, 1862, “The great central valley of the state is under water—the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys—a region 250 to 300 miles long and an average of at least twenty miles wide, or probably three to three and a half millions of acres!”
In southern California lakes were formed in the Mojave Desert and the Los Angeles Basin. The Santa Ana River tripled its highest-ever estimated discharge, cutting arroyos into the southern California landscape and obliterating the ironically named Agua Mansa (Smooth Water), then the largest community between New Mexico and Los Angeles.
The storms wiped out nearly a third of the taxable land in California, leaving the State bankrupt.
if this event repeated today:
The USGS suggests that up to 120” of rain might fall in California over the course of such an event
(in favored orographic locations) the run-off from which would flood the entire Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys as well as the basins of Southern California. A very detailed analysis from the report predicts damage to exceed $300 billion with up to 225,000 people permanently displaced (in terms of complete destruction of dwellings) and a further 1.2 million forced into evacuation
Edited by trioderob, 28 January 2011 - 10:47 AM.