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Risk of catastrophic California ‘megaflood’ has doubled due to global warming, researchers say

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Even today, as California struggles with severe drought, global warming has doubled the likelihood that weather conditions will unleash a deluge as devastating as the Great Flood of 1862, according to a UCLA study released Friday.

In that inundation 160 years ago, 30 consecutive days of rain triggered monster flooding that roared across much of the state and changed the course of the Los Angeles River, relocating its mouth from Venice to Long Beach.

If a similar storm were to happen today, the study says, up to 10 million people would be displaced, major interstate freeways such as Interstates 5 and 80 would be shut down for months, and population centers including Stockton, Fresno and parts of Los Angeles would be submerged — a $1-trillion disaster larger than any in world history.

It would also likely be “bigger in almost every respect” than what scientists have come to call the “ARKStorm scenario” of 1862, said climate scientist Daniel Swain, co-author of the study published Friday in the journal Science Advances.

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