California Flood Threat From Atmospheric River
November 27, 2012 in Uncategorized
Meteorologists use the term “atmospheric river” to describe a long, narrow plume piping deep moisture from the tropics into the mid-latitudes. One type of atmospheric river (hereafter, AR) you may have heard of is the “Pineapple Express”, a pronounced plume tapping moisture from the Hawaiian Islands to the U.S. West Coast.
Amazingly, according to NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL), a strong AR can transport as water vapor up to 15 times the average flow of liquid water at the mouth of the Mississippi River!
Suffice to say, if an AR stalls over a particular area, significant flooding can be the result. In fact, a study by Ralph et al. (2006) found ARs responsible for every flood of northern Calfornia’s Russian River in a 7-year period.
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