For years, scientists have drawn up terrifying scenarios of widespread destruction and chaos that would come to Southern California when a catastrophic earthquake hits.
Their efforts to warn the public may get an unlikely boost from the unprecedented disaster unfolding in Houston, where Tropical Storm Harvey dumped trillions of gallons of rain across Texas and brought America’s fourth-largest city to its knees.
While epic flooding is different from a powerful temblor, both natural disasters fundamentally alter daily life for months or years.
In recent years, officials have drawn up detailed scenarios of what would happen if a huge quake struck this region, part of a larger campaign to better prepare.
The last two big earthquakes to hit Los Angeles — the 1971 Sylmar quake and 1994 Northridge quake — caused destruction and loss of life. But the worst damage was concentrated in relatively small areas and did not fundamentally bring daily life across all of Southern California to a halt.
Experts have long warned that a significantly larger quake will eventually strike and that the toll will be far greater.