‘It’s Not Too Late’ with Ginger Zee: ‘Trillion dollar’ mega disaster

Scientists warn of a "mega storm" that could flood large portions of the West Coast.
7:27 | 12/04/20

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Transcript for ‘It’s Not Too Late’ with Ginger Zee: ‘Trillion dollar’ mega disaster
Coated hurricanes wildfires twenty money has had all but there's a possibility of a trillion dollar disaster and you haven't heard anything about it. Likely won't happen this month but as jitters he explains in this week's it's not too late. Now's a time to get ready. Yeah yeah. Had contingency and it's not today. This week it is absolutely not too late we can all get ready for what could be California's most epic disaster of all time. Prague. From the not I'm not talking about what while my. And not the next big earthquake. I am talking about a disaster that you probably haven't heard about before it's something that experts call the arc store. Now imagine this. Almost a month of drenching storms along the West Coast it would swallow California and ten to twenty feet of rain. We were talking 200 inches in some places. Imagine. Parts of Sacramento the San Francisco Bay Area Los Angeles San Diego all going underwater. There would be thousands of landslides. Major dam failures and the State's entire farm industry. Decimate. Wait a few of us ever heard this dire prediction. Well it's not because people don't remember the last ten happen. Get hurt me it has happened in what was California's deadliest and most destructive natural disaster in reported history. It was called the mega store it happened in the winter of 1861. And 62. California. 1862. It is ready for almost 45 days. This who has mold he re extreme precipitation. Flooded and that. Usually filled up a significant portion central valley with political order trading and movies. 33 miles quiet in 150 miles long. And it wasn't just in California it was one of the most destructive and deadly in Nevada Arizona and Oregon. And that's flat. It's gonna happen again and it could be three times as devastating as the earthquake and the fires. Published nine years ago doctor Lucy Jones and her team were warning that a storm like that of 186162. If it happened today. Could cost the state more than 700 billion dollars. Our model that we get what we called our storm. It was actually great for about 25 days. And that was two. Lot one quarter of property and in California. This is your emergency trillion dollars a disaster there are talking about the would also result in losses housing for hundreds of thousands if not coupled lead people. In California potentially could completely wiped out the agricultural industry for a couple of Beers as well as this Silicon Valley court or in the Bay Area and and movie industries in California along with terrorism it. One point five million people would have to be evacuated from their homes we're talking about moody all out of harm's way. For our parliament and T until the lead scenario hints that night a quarter of the buildings in the state of California could flat. And here's the real issue only 12% of the properties in California are insured for flat. A storm like this is inevitable 186162. Vote wasn't a frequent that. The tree rings and rocks tell us that there were six mega storms that where more severe than the mega storm in the last 18100 years. And here's the good news though we will be able to see it coming we're really good at predicting the type of thing at least a month they're selling advanced but. Sadness when we see it coming if it were to be say next month. We're not many. For example the California Levy system is set up for 75 to 200 here flats a maggots to. And there's one other silver lining that if you plan for the arts storm not well compliments planning for earthquakes. We are not prepared I would assume then for another 186160. It's very difficult to prepare in the race and we half. You can argue that we've made it worse because we couldn't reflect control and then we go underneath. So we have. A lot of Holmes sitting in flood plains protected by slapping. Individuals need to know what their risks are nowhere where you live and and how plan for your family mansion emergency. And that arc storms simulation and I told you about well put together almost a decade ago so it even nothing. UCLA professor Daniel swain is working on on a brand new model for the art store. Ten years ago the model did not take climate change into account. I think what we're trying to do now is update that original arts firm. Scenario for the 21 century using the improve science improve modeling tools also incorporating the fact that we're rushed for confident. Sort of about the teach health of our warming climate how that is. Clearly increasing the risk extreme precipitation events. That means that the storm swain and his team will model this time around. Might actually be worse than the flood of 1862. But here's the outside of the news simulation. And most optimistic about the fact that. This is something that we may have. You know. Bolster early enough there's not a lot we can do that preventing the event itself. There's a lot can be doesn't make you and. Less dad. The web winter between 1617. Was a wake up call for the state Orville damage or remember nearly failed. I'm not sure how many shirts realized that there was a very real possibility at a thirty football water coming down Federer in union to the central valley. That near failure was hired Ellis sorts of so if sitting Nash speller Billings are lost and you're still watching this wondering why does this matter to me. Well how about a trillion dollar disaster in California that sends the entire US government late deeper in debt. It can also empty your kitchen table. California grows a large portion of our country's crops 99% of walnuts 9% of our execs 97%. Of key weeks. California now is committed to doing its part. This planning is taking place spent part. Part of their responsibilities on them tend to be an arm to stand arm in tune to do their part. We've got open up our minds and be looking at all the consequences in the overall margin minds what government needs to be doing Flores is being. Gary church future. A future that will include another mega storm at some point. But it with planned right we cannot be ready and to cut the fat arms intimacy and a promise it's not too. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Fascinating and terrifying all the same time our thanks as always to ginger.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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