So, it turns out that Southern California isn’t as dry as a bone after all. Who could’ve predicted such an anomaly? Oh wait, probably those guys at Floodbase with their fancy AI models and satellite images. Yes, dear reader, the land of sunshine and beaches has been transformed into an impromptu water park thanks to two atmospheric rivers deciding to have a party in the region.
As the clouds decided they’d had enough fun for one week and started packing up their bags (the nerve!), projections from our friends at Floodbase provided us with visual proof of just how epic this pool party was. And let me tell you, there are puddles on these maps that would give Lake Tahoe a run for its money!
The before-and-after pictures show Los Angeles on Jan 28th looking like it’s auditioning for The Blue Man Group while Feb 6th looks more like someone left the bathtub running…in several places…all over town.
On February 6th, light blue floodwater – or what we now call ‘the new normal’ – can be seen hanging around waterways like L.A River and gathering base camps at Santa Monica and Verdugo mountains. It seems even the mountains aren’t immune to a bit of pool party fun.
Now, you might be wondering why we haven’t seen this on the news or plastered all over social media. Well, it turns out public satellites are yet to do their fly-overs and private satellites have been rather picky about where they point their cameras. Bessie Schwarz, co-founder of Floodbase, explains that the data is simply simulating what those lazy satellites would’ve seen if they’d just done their job (I mean seriously, how hard can it be?).
Floodbase uses an AI model which has been trained on decades worth of satellite images like some kind of Rain Man for rainfall predictions. This combined with physical models from hydrologic…land surface…hydraulic data (yes folks, lots of big words) gives us a clearer picture than our windowpane during peak monsoon!
The snapshots reveal that L.A was at its most waterlogged state around Feb 6th while Santa Barbara County had its own splash day earlier on Feb 5th. The image comparison shows modest flooding in Lompoc and some rainwater gathered up in the Santa Ynez Mountains by Jan 28th.
Fast forward to February 6th and voila! Dry riverbeds passing through Lompoc and Santa Maria decided to take part in Wet T-shirt contests leaving them heavily flooded while mountains above Santa Barbara also got into the spirit!
In retrospect though, these atmospheric river parties were not all fun and games as they claimed at least nine lives along with significant property damage along California’s coast.
After four days straight of ‘rain check’, Wednesday morning finally showed signs of clear skies giving local officials and property owners an opportunity to assess damages caused by nearly 500 landslides in Los Angeles County alone – talk about after-party clean up! Some areas even received more than a foot of rain in just a few days. But don’t put away your umbrellas yet, folks – rumor has it another round of showers is expected Wednesday night.
Before-after images show the scale of flooding across SoCal