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Atmospheric Rivers

The Engine That Created California’s Storms This Year

Climate change is giving us a whole new language to describe the giant rain/snowstorms that have pummeled California since November 2022. Originally, there were the Pineapple Expresses which dumped large amounts of precipitation. There were maybe one or two in a rainy season, and just as likely none. Now the term Atmospheric River is used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). And then there are the Bomb Cyclones, fast-developing storms that occur when atmospheric pressure drops at least 24 millibars over a 24-hour period. Sometimes, all three terms are used to describe the same storm.

This year, California has experienced thirteen Atmospheric River storms this rainy season, dumping a record amount of precipitation in the form of rain and snow. I was watching a news report from Mammoth Lakes today which claimed that over 700 inches of snow have fallen in the area so far.That’s over 58 feet in all. Fortunately, it didn’t all fall at one time.

I suspect that we are probably at or near the end of these storms for this rainy season. These events have convinced me that there is risk entailed by siting a house in a low river valley or by a non-rocky hillside. Or by living in a trailer park.

The good news is that California agriculture will probably recover stronger than ever, except for those crops that don’t like too much water.