General Question

auhsojsa's avatar

Are there major disaster zones predetermined by USA government?

Asked by auhsojsa (2511 points ) February 11th, 2012

Specifically in regards to “the big one” due to hit California. Which areas and cities will be greatly affected?

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9 Answers

funkdaddy's avatar

An interesting article that discusses the possibilities with approximate probabilities. Although you have to wonder how you get a number like “46% at some time in the next 30 years”...

USGS studies put the probability of California being hit by a quake measuring 7.5 or more in the next 30 years at 46 percent, though the extent of damage will depend on where in the state it occurs. The likelihood of a 6.7 quake, comparable in size to the temblors that rocked San Francisco in 1989 and Los Angeles in 1994, is 99 percent statewide.

The USGS website has some interesting info and maps. They’ve apparently thought about this quite a bit… Here’s one for the bay area.

marinelife's avatar

Of course, that only applies to things that can (sort of) be predicted like earthquakes. In addition to California, the Northwest is expected to have a big quake.

“Based on historical averages, Goldfinger says the southern end of the fault—from about Newport, Ore., to northern California—has a 37 percent chance of producing a major earthquake (8.0 or greater in magnitude) in the next 50 years. The odds that a mega-quake will hit the northern segment, from Seaside, Ore., to Vancouver Island in British Columbia, are more like 10 to 15 percent (9.0 or greater).

“Perhaps more striking than the probability numbers is that we can now say that we have already gone longer without an earthquake than 75 percent of the known times between earthquakes in the last 10,000 years,” Goldfinger said. “And 50 years from now, that number will rise to 85 percent.” Science Daily

There are tornado areas where the possibility of a tornado occurring is great, but the warning time is very short and hurricane areas which cover a vast stretch of the country and the warning is only a few days.

serenade's avatar

I have a friend who’s job it is to massage scientific writing/data into various government reports, specifically regarding this sort of thing. They have disaster and damage scenarios simulated up, down, and sideways including estimated damage values and estimated cleanup costs.

JLeslie's avatar

Not only does government watch these things, as people pointed out above, but insurance companies run statistical analysis on these things. When I lived in FL my windstorm coverage had a deductable of 2% of the house value, so when my house was damaged by a hurricane, my deductable meant I was out about $8,000 before they even began to think about paying for anything. Here in the Memphis area, I think my current deductible is $1,000. Means to me I am much less likely to get hit with a windstorm here. However, my earthquake insurance here is huge, I pay around $900 a year for it! My neighbor’s insurance dropped earthquake coverage altogether a few years ago, stopped offering it to people in the Memphis vicinity.

HungryGuy's avatar

I don’t know about the US government, but here is a site that reports volcano eruptions, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, disease outbreaks, nuclear spills, and automobile accidents.

auhsojsa's avatar

How likely will a tsunami form? Does it matter where the earthquake is? (On shore, or on mainland?)

funkdaddy's avatar

From the first article linked in my answer above.

Offshore quakes generated from subduction zones, also found along Alaska’s Aleutian Islands chain, can produce tsunamis because of the tremendous volume of water they suddenly displace on the sea floor.

The horizontal ruptures of California’s seismic faults, even those offshore, displace little or no water, and thus pose no tsunami threat, except in cases when they trigger underwater landslides. Even those tsunamis, however, are small compared with the ones caused by subduction quakes at sea.

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