Atmospheric River deluges California and the Southwest

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:25 PM GMT on December 22, 2010

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An “Atmospheric River” of extremely moist air continues to affect the Southwest U.S. today, and flooding rains of 1 – 2” with isolated amounts of 2 – 4” can be expected across Southern California, western and central Arizona, southeastern Nevada, and southwestern Utah. The heaviest rains will fall over the coastal mountains south of Los Angeles. The storm began on Friday night, and has brought some rather remarkable rains and snows to the Southwest. Crestline, California, in the mountains just east of Los Angeles, has received 20.05” of rain since Friday. The Sierra Mountains near Sequoia National Park received an astonishing 17 feet of snow at Pescoes since Friday night. Other heavy snow amounts from the storm include 6.4' at Heavenly near Lake Tahoe, 6.5' in Crested Butte, Colorado, and 9 – 13.5' in Mammoth in the Sierras. Some other rainfall amounts from NOAA's latest Storm Summary:

...ARIZONA...
Iron Spring 11.14"
Black Rock 9.23"
Kingman 3.86"
Grand Canyon West 3.15"

...CALIFORNIA...
Crestline 20.05"
Nature Point 18.60"
Tanback 16.94"
Mammoth Lakes 12.82"
Santa Barbara 12.39"
Los Angeles-USC 6.66"
San Diego 4.22"
San Francisco Airport 2.44"

...NEVADA...
Mount Charleston 12.66"
Las Vegas, 24 miles WNW 8.99"
Reno 2.59"

...UTAH...
Gutz Peak 15.90"
Little Grassy 15.10"
Zion National Park 6.76"


Figure 1. The total amount of rainfall one could get if all the moisture in the air were condensed and fell out as rain is called the Total Precipitable Water (TPW). Here, TPW values from microwave satellite measurements are plotted, and show a plume of very moist air connecting the subtropics near Hawaii with Southern California. TPW vales in excess of 20 mm (about 0.8 inches, blue and warmer colors) are often associated with heavy rainfall events capable of causing flooding. Image credit: University of Wisconsin CIMSS.

“Atmospheric Rivers” was a term coined in the 1990s to describe plumes of moisture that ride up out of the subtropics into the mid-latitudes along the axis of a cold front. Traditional water vapor satellite imagery does not show these plumes very well, and it was only when microwave satellite imagery from polar orbiting satellites became available in the late 1990s that the full importance of these Atmospheric Rivers came to be revealed. Atmospheric Rivers account for a significant portion of California's cold season rainfall and snowfall, and an entire session was devoted to them at last week's American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in San Francisco, the world's largest Earth Science meeting.

Jeff Masters

High water/flooding (meto234)
The Virgin and Santa Clara rivers are topping out at flood stage at St. George, Utah. Been raining for 3 days and more on the way.
High water/flooding
Desert Rainbow (multex)
desert rainbow
Desert Rainbow
None Shall Pass (DancinPants)
That right there between me and the guy on the far side is the road....and the only one that, as far as I'm aware leads out of Pamo Valley. So he might be stuck there. I drove across there just yesterday!
None Shall Pass

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Doc-amen to your last statement.
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188. Inyo
Quoting Neapolitan:

Of course there are numerous factors affecting the climate. And, yes, of course the fun strongly affects the climate; who would say otherwise? But in my opinion, it takes quite a personality and an astounding leap of faith to look at the steady rise in global temperatures these past decades--including the record-breaking heat of 2010--along with the fact that the sun is at a 100-year output minimum, and conclude, "Yep, an ice age is definitely upon us!"

The fact is, as I recently pointed out--there is absolutely no other way to account for rising oceanic heat content than through an imbalance in exchanged energy resulting directly from an increased concentration of GhGs. Yes, there are other factors, but none of those other ones--nor even all of them put together--can account for the current warming of the seas. AGW is the single solution that fits, period.


I totally agree with you. My point was more addressed to the idea that 'well, the sun is causing warming, so humans definitely aren't
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entries #161, #167, and #176 are all indeed an impostor and NOT the real JFLORIDA!! what the %*#@ is wrong in the head with someone like that to cause them to carry out such terribly disgusting activities as to first, be an impostor, and second, to make such racially offensive posts!!? hope to see this troll banned by the end of the day...
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Quoting tuckernpurrs:
Not to be a nit-picker (okay, I guess I am) but "Sierra" means "mountain" They are either the Sierra Nevada or the Nevada Mountains. (Kind of like misplaced apostrophes -- it gets on my nerves.)


Like the Rio Grande River.
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Quoting TampaFLUSA:
Don't acknowledge, just report.

That's one method. Another is to alert others of the troll sans quote a) so sensible users can press the flag, drawing quicker attention and an earlier ban, and b) so we don't spend the next three hours reading posts saying, "JFLORIDA, what has gotten into you?" and "Guys, it's not me, it's an impostor!"
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DocNDSwamp!
Muchos cheeros. And I don't mean cheerios. I'm not mentioning to anyone what winter in Southern OK has been like so far... I'll just
:)
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Quoting Neapolitan:

Allow me to respond to some of your points:

1) I've never said "we are all going to perish in a blaze of fire" because of global warming. I realize that's a very common argument used by the denier side, but it's a specious argument at best. Just because someone points out the scientific facts about AGW and says something needs to be done about it doesn't mean he's being alarmist. If your doctor suggests you quit smoking, that's not alarmist; it's common sense.

2) I seldom insult anyone intentionally, though I will admit to ridiculing the arguments some use, namely the old, tired, illogical, and thoroughly-debunked ones that keep coming up again and again and again and again...

3) As I've gone into in the past, I do quite a bit where GM mitigation is concerned both personally and professionally. But solving the problem is going to require a multi-pronged approach: personal action, public education, policy advocacy, political engagement. Sometimes I focus on one; sometimes one of the others. With the nation's current political mood, I choose to work on prong #2 for the moment. The thing is, I can use all the CFLs I want, but so long as uneducated citizens still believe the fallacy that the planet isn't warming, it'll have little impact, so I choose to also volunteer my time educating in my own small if sometimes confrontational way.

4) So far as the mechanics of GW and whether it's happening or not, I'll just say what I've said before: the increasing heat content of the ocean is the largest single fact showing that the planet is warming up due to heat-trapping GhGs. The amount of energy stored in the form of excess ocean heat is so great that it can only be explained by a growing imbalance between the energy our planet gets from the sun and the energy it returns to space--and that imbalance is a direct result of the growing concentration of GhGs. And that's neither opinion nor ideology; it's just fact.



I would postulate to you that the entire global warming argument is irrelevant anyway. Whether we are or are not enhancing it matters not. In the reality of human beings and their governments solely interested in power and avarice, to the sheer magnitude of the change that would be required within the period that is most often described to avert disaster, nothing will be done on a global scale that would even effect a small portion of the change that you feel is necessary. Whether you win your argument or not is a moot point. I don't believe, though, that anyone really opposes the belief that we need to clean up our environment, unless they are being influenced by money. Of course we need to get away from fossil fuels, but the reality is the technology needed is not even close yet, let alone the infrastructure needed. The government needs to increase incentives toward alternative energy without gutting our economy. Oil companies need to lead the way, but ($$$$$$$) won't. I have been a proponent of nuclear energy for a long time. Anyone who thinks we could make a quick transition is simplistic. I'm just going to stop, as I could write a lengthy discourse that has probably already been written somewhere.
Bottom line is-if you are right, it is already way too late.
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Quoting Jeff9641:


TWC is showing snow in C GA now.


Link

Scroll down to the 25th and it's just a 40% chance of showers lol. (with a 40% chance of rain/snow at night) Do I need to clear my cache?
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Quoting Neapolitan:
Ignorant, racist and completely unfunny troll alert. (#161)
Don't acknowledge, just report.
Member Since: June 21, 2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 1657
Interesting. Thanks DRM. It's been back to the usual icky sticky's around here compared to the last two cold, snowy Decembers. A chilly 81 yesterday out Christmas shopping. Thought we might get by without the really cold weather again until I just saw Ritaevac's post about blue norther and snow in Texas. Yuck! Lol. :)
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Quoting Jeff9641:
TWC is saying 3" to 5" of snow in Macon, GA to 1' to 2' in Raleigh,NC with 40 to 60mph wind gusts. WOW! I thought I heard this wrong but then again heard another met on TWC say the samething. They are warning people in the Carolina's to maybe C GA to get ready to possibly be without power and if conditions get to bad no clearing of roadways. Very serious stuff coming guys.


The TWC said that?? But they're forecast for us here in Macon, GA is "Showers".

Also I just noticed how conservative our NWS is in Peachtree City. Auburn, Alabama is right next to Columbus, GA, but they are governed by different NWS offices. Auburn Alabama's high is 41 and their forecast is rain/snow, then snow. Columbus, GA's high is 51 (10 degrees higher when they are like 5 miles apart) and their forecast is just rain, with a chance of rain/snow at night. Plus Birmingham's NWS is heavily reliant on the Euro, while Peachtree city isn't.
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 3237
Quoting tuckernpurrs:
Not to be a nit-picker (okay, I guess I am) but "Sierra" means "mountain" They are either the Sierra Nevada or the Nevada Mountains. (Kind of like misplaced apostrophes -- it gets on my nerves.)


I don't know where you're from. I grew up in CA, and I just call those big mountains "the Sierras."
:)
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noun. a range of hills or mountains having a saw-toothed appearance from a distance; any of several marine scombroid fishes (genus …
Member Since: June 21, 2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 1657
Ignorant, racist, bigoted, and completely unhumorous troll alert. (#161)

Seriously, trolls, if you're going to go through the effort to post, at least be creative enough to be entertaining.
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Quoting DoverWxwatchter:
Actually Sierra means "saw" not mountain.


"Sierra" can be "saw" or "mountain range", so obviously means the latter in this instance, while "nevada" means "snowy" or "snowfall" or "snowstorm". IOW, "Snowy Mountains" . Go ahead, ask Grothar... ;-)
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OM Gosh Amy. Yipes. One of my good friends lives there. A few blocks up above PCH. Thanks. And be careful you too!
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Hiya Dr Jeff and blog crew,

My sympathies to all of you in CA and the Southwest suffering from the daily deluge / flooding from the Pineapple Express... That was our December last year, when every station in South Louisiana set the record for wettest Dec with amts ranging 22-26"! More or less in line of expectations from last year's El Nino regional impact... Par for the course, this December most of us have had around a mere half inch or less... and on course for one of the top 10 driest Decembers barring a drastic pattern change / slow moving wet system next 9 days...

Oh, just to add to the solar influence on climate discussion for those who still retain an open mind for baffling new possibilities, I found this an interesting read published recently in Nature - "Declining solar activity linked to recent warming"... Of course at the end of article, it includes an almost obligatory immediate discounting / repudiation from certain "denialists" of the study's significance... ;)

At the least, it's another illustration of the phrase "the more we know, the more we realize how little we really know"...

Cheers, all...
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Barefoot,

Laguna Beach is also completely flooded.... DO NOT ATTEMPT TO ENTER THE CITY.......
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Quoting bappit:

Someone call 911. I don't think the Big Cat is feeling well. Either that or he did not read Inyo's post closely.


Grin...

Go back and look at some of my previous comments and you will see that I am a GREENIE through and through.

What I refuse to be is an AGW lemming spouting mindlessly from the AGWTP booklet.

What Inyo said is absolutely correct and we owe it to ourselves to evaluate what he and others are saying about it instead marching in mindless lockstep with AGW, running around like a bunch of Chicken Littles screaming their heads off, "The sky is falling!!! The sky is falling!!!"



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Hello and Merry Happy to all you Masters bloggers!
:)
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Classic Blu' Norther'

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In California's San Bernardino Mts, 22 inches of rain has been reported at Twin Peaks, a few miles from Crestline. High desert areas are flooded.

Torrential rains have wreaked havoc throughout San Bernardino County in the past two days, prompting a helicopter rescue at a hillside restaurant, at least five swift-water rescues and the evacuation of some residents from their homes.

Day 5 of the storm had firefighters and law enforcement scrambling to keep up with flooded roads, mud and rock slides, fender-benders and rescues.
...

"I think 2005 is the last time we saw something like this," said National Weather Service meteorologist Tina Stall.

That four-day weather system in January 2005 dropped as much as 30 inches of rain in parts of Southern California.


News story from the San Bernardino Sun.
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I'm floating out to sea down here.....
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Quoting NRAamy:
music videos on the main blog?


You've missed the past couple of days. We've been posting tons of music lol
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
Quoting tuckernpurrs:
Not to be a nit-picker (okay, I guess I am) but "Sierra" means "mountain" They are either the Sierra Nevada or the Nevada Mountains. (Kind of like misplaced apostrophes -- it gets on my nerves.)

You are correct, but in the vernacular, they are simply "The Sierras". Go figure...

It's not exactly the same, of course, but it's kinda like when people say "the Sahara Desert", a redundancy since the word Sahara means "The Great Desert" in Arabic.
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More music again, I guess:

Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
music videos on the main blog?
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Quoting Neapolitan:

Of course there are numerous factors affecting the climate. And, yes, of course the fun strongly affects the climate; who would say otherwise? But in my opinion, it takes quite a personality and an astounding leap of faith to look at the steady rise in global temperatures these past decades--including the record-breaking heat of 2010--along with the fact that the sun is at a 100-year output minimum, and conclude, "Yep, an ice age is definitely upon us!"

The fact is, as I recently pointed out--there is absolutely no other way to account for rising oceanic heat content than through an imbalance in exchanged energy resulting directly from an increased concentration of GhGs. Yes, there are other factors, but none of those other ones--nor even all of them put together--can account for the current warming of the seas. AGW is the single solution that fits, period.



Isn't that AGW Talking Points ( AGWTP ) booklet just great!!!

Your motto must be...If it says it, I believe it and that is all that needs to be said.

Yessireebob. Yeehaw.

Which page did you find that response on?





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Snowstorm over TX on New Years Day

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Quoting calusakat:



Most excellent post. I agree 100%.



Someone call 911. I don't think the Big Cat is feeling well. Either that or he did not read Inyo's post closely.
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Not to be a nit-picker (okay, I guess I am) but "Sierra" means "mountain" They are either the Sierra Nevada or the Nevada Mountains. (Kind of like misplaced apostrophes -- it gets on my nerves.)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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