2. Heavy flooding
Walbrun also warns of a potential disaster that seems entirely contradictory in nature: even though we’re still in drought, there’s going to be flooding. In fact, the flooding of rivers like the Russian River and the Napa River is a real possibility during slowly occurring precipitation events. Allegretto says in the Tahoe and Reno area, it’s also likely we’ll see the Truckee River coming up over the bank, especially in areas that get a lot of snow followed by rain. Depending on how bad these floods are, they can knock out bridges and roads, wash away mobile home parks, wreak havoc on homes, and sweep people away in a moment’s notice.
3. Dams and levees breaking
A flood caused by rising water levels is one thing; a flood caused by a dam or levee breaking is a whole other terrifying situation, especially when you consider the extensive levee system in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta. Walbrun states that sometimes, even in a routine winter, a levee will fail, but that hopefully the Army Corps of Engineers sees the impending failure and has time to mitigate it. However, if they don’t, Holthaus says one of those levees breaking could flood all of Sacramento. Worst-case scenario if that happens? Sacramento could be submerged under 20ft of water with more than 500 people dead.