Disasters in Alta California
Due to the expanse of territory that Alta California owns, there are multitudes of climates, ecosystems, and natural hazards. The most notable disasters are earthquakes, which is considered the usual hazard when most people think of Alta California (and even Montrei). Due to the southwestern region of Alta California straddling two plate boundaries, the area between Los Angeles and San Diego is riddles with multitudes of fault lines. The most recent devastating earthquake to strike Alta California was the 1994 Cresta Norte earthquake. This quake registered 6.7 on the Richter scale, and destroyed many of the rather cheaply built buildings within Los Angeles. Parts of the Cresta Norte area are still condemened due to the relative poverty of Alta California in the past 15 years.
The other primary natural hazard are the Santa Ana winds, which are a type of Föhn wind. These winds occur when high pressure over Mojave area builds, causing the air to spill over the mountains to the east of the Los Angeles area into the lowland areas near the ocean. As the air moves up and over the mountains, it loses moisture. As it descends, it heats up due to greater pressure in the lowlands. As the winds descend down the slopes of the mountains, the winds increase, and in certain mountain passes, the winds can reach hurricane speeds. People living near these passes have had shingles and tiles blown off of the roofs of their houses. The winds also help to make the coastal areas warmer than the inland deserts during the year when these winds blow.
The Santa Ana winds are also the primary factor in the severity of fires in the Los Angeles area. In October of 2003, the winds helped fuel a fire which burned 721,791 acres in two weeks. Fires are commonplace in southwestern Alta California, and there will often be at least one fire each year.
To describe every manmade disaster that has ocurred in Alta California would be impossible. However, there are several events which have happened in Alta California that are worth mentioning. The most notable is probably the explosion of a chemical plant near the city of Las Vegas, near the Rio Colorado. Las Vegas is a medium sized city. Its main industry had been manufacturing and munitions for the Alta California military. To the southeast of the city was the Compañia Paçifica de Prouçón d'Ingeniaría d'Alta California (CoPaPIAC). This company was responsible for supplying ammonium perchlorate, a powerful oxidizer to be used on rockets and other weapons for the Alta California military.
In 1998, a fire and explosions ocurred at the plant. The fire started as workers were welding steel frames of the storage facility where 55 gallon plastic drums of ammonium perchlorate were stored. The welding torches caught the fiberglass wall panels of the storage facility on fire, and residue from perchlorate helped to intensify the fire. After several ineffective attempts at extinguishing the flames, the fire spread to nearby plastic barrels of perchlorate. In total there were 8.5 million pounds of perchlorate stored at the facility.
There were two explosions, the first happened in the storage facility among the storage drums. A second explosion ocurred in the facility where aluminum shipping containers full of perchlorate were kept. Both explosions were likened to small nuclear explosions in that witnesses who saw both explosions from a ridge above the facility described a circular shockwave which spread out from each explosion, stirring up dust on the ground. Both destroyed all buildings near the plant.
In addition to buildings, the shockwave knocked power lines down, and tossed automobiles around up to 1.5 miles from the plant. Three miles from the plant, there was heavy damage to structures and vehicles. Ten miles from the plant, moderate damage ocurred, with the shockwave blowing the windows of buildings out, cracking walls and plaster, and blowing doors open. An airship was buffeted by the shockwave 7 miles from the explosion. Most people were hurt by flying debris. There were only two casualties, one who called the emergency number to warn authorities of the fire, and an employee who was wheelchair bound.
Initial public reaction was that the explosions were the work of Tejano or even Deseret rebels. However, after an investigation, it was discovered that the fires and explosions ocurred due to poor judgement, poor handling procedures, and a lack of proper management.