An atmospheric river tore through Southern California this week, flooding homes and businesses and causing destructive mudslides. The homes of some folks, it seems, have been literally brought to the brink.
As local news outlet ABC7 reports, three oceanfront mansions in Dana Point, California were dangling on the edge of a cliff after a terrifying landslide wrought by the storms took out a massive chunk of the hillside below.
The city reportedly told ABC7 that the houses weren't in any immediate danger, and per the local outlet, no emergency calls were made to local officials to report the landslide.
Red-flagged or not, though, the videos of the multimillion-dollar Orange County homes teetering off the cliffside are a harrowing reminder of the dangers of climate change-intensified extreme weather events. After all, if the folks who own luxury cliffside mansions in sunny Southern California aren't safe from the disastrous impacts of climate change, who is?
While the footage of these homes is a potent illustration of the atmospheric river's Californian rampage, the luxury seesaws are only a blip in last week's widespread destruction. In sum, according to The Guardian, the five-day storms racked up an estimated $11 billion in "damage and economic loss," drenching California in roughly half the state's annual rainfall in less than a week. Nine people were killed.
What's worse, scientists are warning that this is only the beginning.
Our oceans play a central role in global weather patterns, and as they get warmer, chaotic shifts in normal weather patterns follow; climate researchers have warned of a resulting increased risk of extreme weather events for years now. Combine this reality with the fact that nations around the world — the US included — are falling woefully short in the race to build climate-mitigating infrastructure, and property, people, and local ecosystems adapted for centuries-old climate systems worldwide are at the risk of immense devastation.
"Given the amount of warming we've seen so far," UCLA atmospheric physicist and climate scientist Alex Hall told the Guardian, "we expect that big precipitation events should be about 10 percent more intense than they were before greenhouse gasses were added to the atmosphere."
"The scary thing is that if you look into the future to the point where we have twice as much warming as today, you have events that are 20 percent more intense," he added, "and entirely new classes of events that don't even exist now."
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