California's Dams at Risk: How Extreme Weather Could Devastate the State

California's Dams at Risk: How Extreme Weather Could Devastate the State

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California's climate is changing, with dry periods stretching longer and storms growing bigger and more furious.

The state's (California's) dams are unprepared for extreme weather, experts warn, putting them at risk of failure.

California is home to the tallest dam in America, located in Oroville, and a failure of that dam could be catastrophic.

In 2017, the Oroville Dam almost failed, highlighting the need for a comprehensive approach to dam safety.

Most of the flood data used to design California's dams comes from the past century, which has been an unusually placid period in California weather.

However, storms are becoming more furious as the atmosphere warms, and the amount of water vapor it can carry increases.

"All of this infrastructure is designed for a climate that no longer exists," says Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at U.C.L.A.

The risk of flooding from a dam failure doesn't tend to get much attention, despite the fact that the biggest disasters in the state's history have been floods.

Some experts believe that part of the reason California's dams are unprepared for extreme weather is because floods don't captivate the public's attention in the same way as earthquakes.

A truly comprehensive approach to dam safety is needed to address this issue, but officials and experts tend to focus only on their pieces of the equation and not the overall picture.

It's time for action to ensure the safety of California's dams in the face of extreme weather and climate change. Protect our communities, act now.