From The Press Democrat – Sonoma County sustained more than $5 billion in damage from megastorms known as atmospheric rivers over 40 years, the hardest hit among 414 counties in 11 western states, according to a new study. The flood-prone county’s economic toll was tops by far, with Lewis County, Oregon in second place with $3 billion in damage, according to the study, which calculated the cost of 1,603 atmospheric rivers from 1978 to 2017. The 1995 storm that inundated Guerneville for three days, pushing the Russian River to its second highest flood level since 1940, was ranked the most destructive atmospheric river in the study period.

Insured losses in Sonoma County exceeded $50 million from the January 1995 storm that made landfall in Southern California and did $3.7 billion in total damage. All told, atmospheric rivers — a global phenomena that play a key role in the world’s water supply, unleashing floods and ending droughts — did $42.6 billion in damage, about $1.l billion a year, according to the study published this week in journal Science Advances. (more)