Clouds of concern: Could super storm hit California?

Clouds of concern: Could super storm hit California?
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- The U.S. Geological Survey recently held a summit in Sacramento to discuss the very real dangers of a storm that could devastate the state.

Kern County is not usually associated with severe weather. Occasionally, we have a big weather event like the record rainfall last month that caused widespread flooding. But, according to the USGS, those storms would be like a light sprinkle compared to what's being called an "ARkStorm."

Photos: Eyewitness News viewers capture last month's flooding >>

Eyewitness News wanted to find out more about this storm, so we went to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Hanford. Inside the facility, meteorologist are constantly watching the skies and are taking the idea of the ARkStorm very seriously.

"We would see a lot of flooding in the Central Valley, which would impact nearly every citizen," Warning coordination meteorologist James Brotherton said.

The "A" and "R" in ARkStorm stand for atmospheric river, where storm systems would tap into tropical moisture and create heavy rains lasting for weeks. Although Eyewitness News has covered the most severe weather in Kern County for the last 57 years, this storm would be on a whole new level.

The USGS uses the past to map out the possible mega-storm, comparing it to the great storm of 1862, when 45 days of rain flooded the state.

About 150 years later, almost 40 million people live in California and 6.5 million live right here in the Central Valley. These days, the storm could spell disaster to the tune of an estimated $725 billion in damages, not to mention the impact on human life.

But there is a slight silver lining to this story. Unlike an earthquake, the super storm is somewhat predictable. Meteorologists say they could have up two weeks of warning.

So, when might this super storm slam the West Coast? According to Eyewitness News Meteorologist Miles Muzio, geological records indicate there have been six such storms during the last 1,800 years, with the most recent being the storm 150 years ago.

Beyond that, timing is just speculation.