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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Quoting FLPandhandleJG:


i was saying the potential system we may have this weekend could stop a lot of traveling plans this weekend into monday and possibly tuesday.. Sry that i didnt explain myself well..




Ah, I hear ya. Thanks.

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Quoting melwerle:
My hubby was working at the VA just down the street - they told everyone to get out asap. We were at the mall there (or trying to get there) when we decided to bail and go somewhere else because there were rescue trucks and helicopters flying all over. This place was a cluster - well you know. But honestly - everyone here knows where the flooding occurs.
Sea World in San Diego is closed due to flooding.
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Good night.

>.

One of these days Gro and I will spill the beans on what this means.
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Please hush!!! John Coleman has been on vacation lately and he's hte only one we listen to with regards to weather. No more rain.
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Quoting TampaFLUSA:
It all how much cold air gets wrapped in the storm.


I know.. Im just wondering how this system will progress.. Slow or Fast.. ? Its about the timing with the most part with the cold air..
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Quoting melwerle:
My hubby was working at the VA just down the street - they told everyone to get out asap. We were at the mall there (or trying to get there) when we decided to bail and go somewhere else because there were rescue trucks and helicopters flying all over. This place was a cluster - well you know. But honestly - everyone here knows where the flooding occurs.


Sounds like a disaster, thanks for the posts and be safe!
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Quoting melwerle:
Cough cough...gaaaasp. The rain is gone...mudslides on the freeway, illegals drowning in the waterways, border patrol in my neighborhood looking for problems. Hubby got evacuated from work today because the area was flooding. Folks in a hotel in the area had to have search and rescue get them out. Hey, but it doesn't rain here. :) I still remember last January being worse - we had such back problems in our yard that we had to sandbag. I think they're saying we got 4 inches of rain since last night. Seems I've seen more but whatever. Flooding in the areas that were mentioned on the news flood when we have a sprinkling. Who builds a bridge that is about a foot above a river? Near a mall? And the mall parking lot right in the flood zone? They've been trying to resolve this for YEARS but they can't figure it out.

Anywho kids, I am done with fighting traffic, done with trying to dry off, done with trying to look "cute" in a red west marine rain jacket with a huge yellow rain hat (it's my sailing jacket - it's not pretty but it certainly does the job). I am taking my rain-drenched a** and going to bed.

Hope everyone has a merry Christmas and/or happy holidays (we celebrate both Christmas and Chanukah so we don't want to offend anyone).

For all of you that the storm we just had is coming your way - break out the water wings.

Mel


wow sry to hear about that.. Hope everything gets better soon.. Looks like y'all might have another system behind this, hate to say it.. Y'all be safe and hope ur family has a good christmas.. Just crazy stuff!
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My hubby was working at the VA just down the street - they told everyone to get out asap. We were at the mall there (or trying to get there) when we decided to bail and go somewhere else because there were rescue trucks and helicopters flying all over. This place was a cluster - well you know. But honestly - everyone here knows where the flooding occurs.
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Quoting FLPandhandleJG:


hmm..
It all how much cold air gets wrapped in the storm.
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:



I'm sorry. Please 'splain.

No offense intended.


i was saying the potential system we may have this weekend could stop a lot of traveling plans this weekend into monday and possibly tuesday.. Sry that i didnt explain myself well..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Cough cough...gaaaasp. The rain is gone...mudslides on the freeway, illegals drowning in the waterways, border patrol in my neighborhood looking for problems. Hubby got evacuated from work today because the area was flooding. Folks in a hotel in the area had to have search and rescue get them out. Hey, but it doesn't rain here. :) I still remember last January being worse - we had such back problems in our yard that we had to sandbag. I think they're saying we got 4 inches of rain since last night. Seems I've seen more but whatever. Flooding in the areas that were mentioned on the news flood when we have a sprinkling. Who builds a bridge that is about a foot above a river? Near a mall? And the mall parking lot right in the flood zone? They've been trying to resolve this for YEARS but they can't figure it out.

Anywho kids, I am done with fighting traffic, done with trying to dry off, done with trying to look "cute" in a red west marine rain jacket with a huge yellow rain hat (it's my sailing jacket - it's not pretty but it certainly does the job). I am taking my rain-drenched a** and going to bed.

Hope everyone has a merry Christmas and/or happy holidays (we celebrate both Christmas and Chanukah so we don't want to offend anyone).

For all of you that the storm we just had is coming your way - break out the water wings.

Mel
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hmm..
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Quoting Grothar:


Hetzelfde naar u. LOL Ik moet oud worden.

How you doing EM?


Do you have a duty to become old? LOL. (you said it).

My daughter got pictures of the sneeuw (which in Cajun French is Sneaux, apparently) in Den Hague from her friends.

(leave well enough alone... don't go there em.. you know what i mean gro).
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Quoting presslord:
go ahead....make fun....y'all are gonna miss me....my mother in law won't....but y'all will....


We'll definitely miss you, good luck with the in-law.
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
Quoting FLPandhandleJG:


You'll be fine.. Dont let a lil bugger from mother nature spoil ur holidays.. ;)



I'm sorry. Please 'splain.

No offense intended.
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Quoting presslord:


Thanks!!! It's been a lot of fun...lottsa good folks stepped up to make it happen....


You'll be fine.. Dont let a lil bugger from mother nature spoil ur holidays.. ;)
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Quoting pottery:

You are DOOM...
was really nice knowing you.
such a loss..........

heheheheh

I'm out.


Ah... Destin Jeff in disguise
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Quoting Jeff9641:
GFS and NAM are both showing a weak system across the South with affects only near Boston. Question will be will the EURO be right?


I still thinks its early to say.. But I want to c the Euro if it stays cosistent or not.. But by tomorrow we should know a lot more data for sure.. Plus its hard to predict snow in the southeast when trying to figure out if the system will slow down some with the temps catch up or what.. IMO
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Quoting presslord:


Thanks!!! It's been a lot of fun...lottsa good folks stepped up to make it happen....


Y'all are gonna plant some big smiles. Sweet!
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:



LOL.

On a serious note, kudos on the toy drive. Nice job.


Thanks!!! It's been a lot of fun...lottsa good folks stepped up to make it happen....
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Quoting presslord:
go ahead....make fun....y'all are gonna miss me....my mother in law won't....but y'all will....



LOL.

On a serious note, kudos on the toy drive. Nice job.
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go ahead....make fun....y'all are gonna miss me....my mother in law won't....but y'all will....
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Quoting presslord:
I'm just gonna throw myself off the pier...



Ocean a bit cold in the Carolina's?

Hehehe.

Winks.
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Quoting presslord:
I'm just gonna throw myself off the pier...


Aim yourself at a fish, u could get lucky.. ;)
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Thanks for the links in #460.... the images came through as red x's...

I tried to post from my phone. The link should take you to TWC page on the possible storm senarios.
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Quoting pottery:

You are DOOM...
was really nice knowing you.
such a loss..........

heheheheh

I'm out.


Good night, Sir Pott.

Good evening, folks!
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I'm just gonna throw myself off the pier...
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Quoting TampaFLUSA:


Link


thanks for the link..
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Quoting presslord:
post 453....you ain't helpin' my mood any....
Quoting presslord:
see post 452


I'm sry.. hopefully this system wont get strong or just passes through fast so it wont develop..
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Thanks for the links in #460.... the images came through as red x's...
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Looks like the GFS and NAM are agreeing with each other at the moment.. But Euro comes out near 1am.. See how that goes, if it agrees with GFS and the NAM.. I dont like the flip flopping here.. Just not consistent as of yet..
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Link
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see post 452
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Quoting presslord:
post 453....you ain't helpin' my mood any....


Y whats wrong..
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Quoting presslord:
Here's the deal: my mother in law is here....and I really need her to be able to leave Sunday....if she can't drive from here to Atlanta, I'm gonna kill myself.......

You are DOOM...
was really nice knowing you.
such a loss..........

heheheheh

I'm out.
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At the 66hr in the GFS.. They have L much more north compare to the Euro.. But lil more stronger but not that of a punch of cold air..
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post 453....you ain't helpin' my mood any....
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Quoting presslord:


yea....I guess you can come out of time out...btw...be advised: if it snows here I'm comin' to your house....and you'd better have rum...
I don't know why this statement makes me think of that old winter carol "Here we come a wassailing".....
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Here's the deal: my mother in law is here....and I really need her to be able to leave Sunday....if she can't drive from here to Atlanta, I'm gonna kill myself.......
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Quoting presslord:


That, my friend, is a deal!!!!!

Just do it......

See you all tomorrow, sometime.
Stay safe ...........
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Looks like the GFS is making a lil stronger and coming in a lil slower.. Hmm.. interesting..
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Quoting pottery:

Will be errecting a 12' high razorwire fence, first thing in the morning.
So you cant get back OUT!
The Troglodyte at the gate, with the axe, will let you in.
You already know the 3-letter password.
Starts with 'r', and ends with 'um'.
Keep it secret.


That, my friend, is a deal!!!!!
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Quoting presslord:


yea....I guess you can come out of time out...btw...be advised: if it snows here I'm comin' to your house....and you'd better have rum...

Will be errecting a 12' high razorwire fence, first thing in the morning.
So you cant get back OUT!
The Troglodyte at the gate, with the axe, will let you in.
You already know the 3-letter password.
Starts with 'r', and ends with 'um'.
Keep it secret.
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446. JRRP
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Quoting jasoniscoolman2010xo:
that snow map is way off!!!


LOL.. its just premature prediction.. it would be nice to see some snow flying down here but i doubt it..
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Quoting EnergyMoron:


>.


Hetzelfde naar u. LOL Ik moet oud worden.

How you doing EM?
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Quoting pottery:

I thought an hour would be enough....
Can I come out and play now?

(Gee. You are a Hard Old Geezer)

((watch out. You may get reported again, too LOL)


yea....I guess you can come out of time out...btw...be advised: if it snows here I'm comin' to your house....and you'd better have rum...
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Quoting pottery:

I thought an hour would be enough....
Can I come out and play now?

(Gee. You are a Hard Old Geezer)

((watch out. You may get reported again, too LOL)


ROFL
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553

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About

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