Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hurricanes in Los Angeles

A hurricane hitting Los Angeles. No, it hasn't happened yet, but it could. I am using the same reasoning as the Carbon Is Going to Kill Us crowd, where it is deemed prudent and even mandatory that we take action now to prevent a future catastrophe. AGW believers insist that all mankind (well, except for developing countries, of course!) curtail or stop altogether emitting carbon dioxide, as that may cause ice caps to melt and oceans to rise and population disruption.

There is a hurricane in the Pacific Ocean, headed directly toward Los Angeles. It's name is Jimena (pronounced him -ay - nuh, accent on the ay). Jimema currently has winds of 135 miles per hour, and is just south of the tip of Baja, California. Its course is to the northwest, up the Baja peninsula.

Judging from the mass confusion a couple of years ago when Houston evacuated ahead of hurricane Rita, Los Angeles might want to start packing and driving today. Houston only had around 1 million people exiting the city, and had at least five freeways on which to do it. Los Angeles has approximately 3 million people, probably closer to 4 million, but the metropolitan area has 18 million, and only three ways out. There is the Interstate 10, going due East; Interstate 5 going North; and highway 101, also going north. I-5 also goes south, but little good that will do since one runs into San Diego and the hurricane.

A hurricane hitting Los Angeles. We must take prudent steps to avoid the certain disaster and destruction from a hurricane. We will not be required to wait 100 years for the results to be in. This hurricane will be here in less than 10 days. We must act today, while there is still time. The science is settled. Hurricanes hitting major population centers are a serious threat. Remember New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. Houston and Hurricane Rita. We must mobilize FEMA so they can get their red tape all in order, ready to send trailers and water and food packs to Los Angeles.

The low-lying areas of Southern California are at risk of inundation from the storm surge. Ports and river basins will be swamped with seawater, causing un-told devastation to precious seashore that is a national treasure, as the California Coastal Commission regularly reminds us. A storm surge from a hurricane can be several feet. The California Coastal Commission was in a tizzy recently over the prospect of the ocean rising just one foot, in the next century. Where is the alarm, the hysterical and frantic activity, over a storm surge of 5 to 10 feet in the space of 24 hours?

Where is the clarion call to action from our state and city leaders? Governor Schwarzenegger, Mayor Villaraigosa, are you watching this hurricane? Have you prepared the state and city and county to deal with this?

Or, are you hoping the hurricane does arrive, and right away, so that the wildfires will finally be put out and the firefighters get some much-needed rest?

Stay tuned, sports fans. This is about to get interesting.

Update: August 31, 2009, 10:00 p.m. PDT, Jimena strengthened to a CAT 5 hurricane, with 155 mph sustained winds, and is on course to hit the tip of Baja sometime in the next 24 hours. The 5 day forecast has it moving due north and a bit east, into Mexico and then into Arizona. Looks like Los Angeles is not going to receive much wind or rain. But, hurricanes are not totally predictable. The rain would do much good in putting out the fires.


Anonymous said...

FYI: You miscounted your freeways. Los Angeles also has the I-15 which heads northeast through the desert into Vegas. Also, if we're talking about hurricane evacuation, the 10 and the 15 would be suicide as they both go through flash-flood zones.

Roger Sowell said...

Mr. Mous, true, but most Angelenos must travel along the I-10 to reach the I-15, not much help. Plus, with at least 10 million people, one more freeway would make little difference.

One could also travel up the I-5 to the 14 and across the Palmdale area. Still, the traffic on the 5 would be snarled for days.

Anonymous said...

Meh, not really. The 15 also connects with the 60, the 210, and the 91/215 (in two places) all of which travel east-west; but I agree with the size of the population here it makes little difference.

In fact, anyone who's tried to get back into Los Angeles on a Sunday afternoon after a holiday weekend knows just how absurd any attempt at evacuation would be.