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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appears to have been a false echo generated from USGS no watches or warnings for poss wave
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53787
Quoting Inyo:
Honest question for non-agw people who believe AGW is a hoax created to make money:

It seems to me like a lot more money is to be made in continuing to sell oil and coal, than to practice conservation and conversion to new fuel types.

That being said, why do so many people think anthropomorphic global warming is a 'scam' created to make someone rich, but the anti-global warming position ISNT?


Honest question!


You are absolutely correct.

The problem right now is that there is little money being invested into alternative energy sources because the cost of producing those types of energy sources exceed by a bunch the current cost of petroleum and coal.

If the cost of producing a certain amount of energy is over double petroleum or coal you, as an investor, would want to do everything to put off investing in the alternate energy source for as long as possible.

However energy stocks are facing a double edged sword so to speak. If you owned stock in a company whose main source of revenue was going to be depleted in the near future, wouldn't you, at some point in time, want to look for alternatives?

Energy companies are in the business of selling energy related products. As one book I recently read said, the cost of photovoltaic devices are such that gasoline prices would have to rise double or more to for energy companies to be able to afford to make the switch.

There are financial advisers and then there are green-minded financial advisers. The green-minded ones will work to develop constructs that lead people toward the path that leads to the goal they have in mind.

In this case, they hire lobbyists to lobby the politicians to adopt the new thinking. Here is where it gets stinky. What if the people you want to convince to your line of thinking, don't want to go that way. Well, you find and support those who make it sound imperative that the choice be made.

I had a friend who sold dental products to dentists and when they were first hired they would be sent to Boston to be trained on how to sell to them. He told us that the company told the sales force that dentists were best sold to by using the concept of fear of loss. In other words, if you don't buy this products you patients will go to another dentist across the street. Did it work. Well, back in the '70s and '80s he as earning well into the six figure range...yes indeed it worked.

AGW came along at just the right time and were enlisted to be the shill for moving the people toward alternative energy. Now add a little protest ( good guy, bad guy ) from the energy companies to make it look like they didn't like the idea and bigbaddaboom people are sold on alternative energy NOW.

The real truth is that the weather scientists are actually very sloppy in how they conduct themselves in their research. I didn't say it, they did, time after time.

For a scientist doing research in a field as important to the future of the planet, fudging the data to make a graph prettier is just 'grade school'. If an employees is caught fudging, they should have to scrap the project and start over or be fired.

Not to mention the sloppy and unprofessional way in which they gather and manage the data they claim to be so important. Or the sloppy and unprofessional way in which they maintain and certify the equipment. Don't forget, this is based on their own admission of personnel issues and the fact that they fudge the data for various reasons.

Fudging data is falsifying data. Weather data is just too important to this planet to allow them to fudge or cheat with the data already gathered. Not to mention the fact that they do not have or implement any standardization for placement, maintenance or continuing certification of both on an ongoing basis.

Time for them to come out into the light of day and stand proud instead of hiding behind the skirts proprietary protections.



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and yes, Groth... I am that difficult....

;)
Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 317 Comments: 31946
<
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53787
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
Magnitude 6.5 - NORTH PACIFIC OCEAN
2010 December 22 21:50:11 UTC
Tsnuami?
Member Since: June 21, 2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 1657
x
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53787
Quoting bappit:

When my dogs see me put on shoes, they think they might get to go somewhere. I suspect they deduce from a principle they induced. We all evolved that way.


bappit, You impress me more every time you post. At least that is what I inferred after I deduced your implication. (Very good analogy,BTW)
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26117
x
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53787
<
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53787
Our local Fox met said the next cold blast might be the coldest so far this year.
Member Since: June 21, 2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 1657
Quoting JFLORIDA:


You can see why it was so bad in ceder key:


Storm Surge:


Cedar Key:
The storm was well predicted, except the storm surge aspect. People went to sleep and woke up to water in their bed.
Member Since: June 21, 2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 1657
Quoting NRAamy:
How is Plato and Aristotle doing these days?


rolling in their graves over your bad grammar....


True. I used singular and I should have used plural.
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Quoting Grothar:


Doing fine, thanks. Trouble has always followed me. Looks like the blog is finally getting into my field, Aristotle. Interesting how how some follow the Platonian philosophy of simple inductive reasoning and others utilize the Aristolian form of inductive and deductive reasoning. They are probably unaware they are using methods formed eons ago.

When my dogs see me put on shoes, they think they might get to go somewhere. I suspect they deduce from a principle they induced. We all evolved that way.
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How is Plato and Aristotle doing these days?


rolling in their graves over your bad grammar....
Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 317 Comments: 31946
Magnitude 6.3 - BONIN ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
2010 December 22 21:49:38 UTC
Versión en Español
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53787
Quoting Grothar:


Doing fine, thanks. Trouble has always followed me. Looks like the blog is finally getting into my field, Aristotle. Interesting how how some follow the Platonian philosophy of simple inductive reasoning and others utilize the Aristolian form of inductive and deductive reasoning. They are probably unaware they are using methods formed eons ago.


That is true. Then again we have to use the thought processes from long ago. There are too few original thoughts posted on a blog. Yes, I include myself in that analysis. ... How is Plato and Aristotle doing these days? You don't hear much from either one these days. Did they turn into stoned images of their former selves? ... OK, that was really bad and I will go back into sleep mode again.
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53787
Quoting JFLORIDA:
Im always watching for this. I know its coming again.
I wouldn't be surprised. Hpefully without the deaths.
Member Since: June 21, 2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 1657
what could jacksonville,florida get out of this mega-storm?
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Forecast for Dumas Ar.(where I'll be at Christmas)

Friday Night
Rain likely in the evening...then a chance of light snow...rain and sleet after midnight. Lows in the lower 30s. The chance of precipitation 60 percent.

about as close to a "White Christmas" forecast as I've had in a while :)
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Jeff9461 based on the European model of the potential big snowstorm how much snow do you think the following cities will receive...Atlanta, Charlotte,Washington D.C, Elmira, New York City, Philadelphia, Boston..
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NWS Tampa is conservative all the time.
Member Since: June 21, 2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 1657
NWS Tampa still not saying anything. Link
Member Since: June 21, 2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 1657
260. IKE
AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BIRMINGHAM AL
328 PM CST WED DEC 22 2010

.SHORT TERM...TONIGHT THROUGH SATURDAY NIGHT.

COLD FRONT HAS PUSHED THROUGH ALABAMA ALTHOUGH COLDER AIR IS LAGGING
BEHIND ACTUAL SURFACE FRONT. TEMPERATURES CLIMBED INTO THE LOWER
70S ACROSS SOUTHERN COUNTIES WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON. TEMPERATURES WILL
COOL DOWN QUICKLY AFTER SUNSET WITH LOWS TONIGHT IN THE UPPER 20S
TO LOWER 30S. A DRY FORECAST THURSDAY AND FRIDAY AS A MUCH DRIER
AIR MASS FILTERS INTO THE REGION. THE MODELS CONTINUE TO SLOW DOWN
RETURN OF MOISTURE INTO ALABAMA FRIDAY AND FRIDAY NIGHT AND BACKED
OFF RAIN CHANCES FRIDAY NIGHT. THE GOOD THING IS THAT PRECIPITATION
SHOULD BE LIGHT ENOUGH FRIDAY NIGHT TO PREVENT ANY PROBLEMS WITH
ROADS AS TEMPERATURES WILL BE NEAR OR JUST ABOVE FREEZING.
SATURDAY WILL BE THE DAY OF TRANSITION AS GULF LOW FORMS AND
BEGINS TO PULL DOWN COLDER AIR INTO ALABAMA. THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT
MODELS ARE SLOWING DOWN ADVECTION OF COLDER AIR ON SATURDAY...
WHICH MEANS THE TRANSITION OF RAIN TO SNOW WILL LIKELY BE DELAYED
SEVERAL HOURS. MODELS ARE IN VERY GOOD AGREEMENT WITH POSITION OF
SURFACE SURFACE LOW THROUGH SATURDAY. THE RAIN/SNOW LINE SHOULD BE
NEAR THE I-20 CORRIDOR BY NOON SATURDAY...AND PUSH RAPIDLY
SOUTHWARD SATURDAY AFTERNOON...PROBABLY NEAR A SELMA...
MONTGOMERY...TO AUBURN LINE BY SUNSET SATURDAY. THERE IS A GOOD
LIKELY HOOD THAT MOST AREAS WILL EXPERIENCE SNOW AT SOME POINT ON
SATURDAY...BUT ACCUMULATION IS ANOTHER STORY. IT APPEARS THAT THE
BEST CHANCE FOR HEAVIER SNOWFALL WILL BE ACROSS THE SOUTHERN
COUNTIES...BETWEEN MONTGOMERY AND TROY...DUE TO A MORE SOUTHERN
TRACK OF THE SURFACE LOW. RAIN WILL BE THE PREDOMINATE PCPN TYPE
FOR MOST OF THE DAY SATURDAY ACROSS SOUTHERN COUNTIES...BUT THERE
COULD BE A SEVERAL HOUR PERIOD FOR A MODERATE WET SNOWFALL. STILL A
LITTLE EARLY TO MENTION ACCUMULATION...BUT ANOTHER CONCERN IS
SATURDAY NIGHT AS TEMPERATURES FALL BELOW FREEZING...AND ANY
REMAINING MOISTURE FREEZES.

.LONG TERM...SUNDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY.

ANOTHER BLAST OF COLD ARCTIC AIR WILL SPREAD ACROSS AREA SUNDAY THROUGH
TUESDAY AS SURFACE LOW MOVES UP THE ATLANTIC COAST. HIGHS SUNDAY AND
MONDAY MAY NOT GET OUT OF THE 30S ACROSS NORTH ALABAMA WITH LOWS MONDAY
AND TUESDAY MORNINGS IN THE TEENS. SUNDAY WILL BE WILL BE BLUSTERY
AND COLD WITH NORTH WINDS 10 TO 20 MPH. WOULD NOT BE SURPRISED TO
SEE SOME LINGERING SNOW FLURRIES ON SUNDAY. A WARM ON WEDNESDAY AS
SURFACE RIDGE MOVES EAST OF AREA AND WINDS BECOME SOUTHERLY.

58/ROSE

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Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


Hello, Grothar! How are you doing?

You didn't do anything. Trouble just seems to find its way to you.LOL


Doing fine, thanks. Trouble has always followed me. Looks like the blog is finally getting into my field, Aristotle. Interesting how how some follow the Platonian philosophy of simple inductive reasoning and others utilize the Aristolian form of inductive and deductive reasoning. They are probably unaware they are using methods formed eons ago.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26117
Quoting TampaFLUSA:
If it is a gale, there might be a storm surge like 93.


Not here, NW winds would be blowing water out
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Our NWS is finally giving in:

000
FXUS62 KFFC 222104
AFDFFC

AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PEACHTREE CITY GA
404 PM EST WED DEC 22 2010


.SHORT TERM /TONIGHT THROUGH FRIDAY NIGHT/...
CURRENT SATELLITE LOOP SHOWS MOSTLY CLEAR SKIES ACROSS THE STATE.
HIGH PRESSURE IS BEGINNING TO BUILD INTO THE REGION AND SHOULD BE
CENTERED OVER THE AREA BY 12Z-18Z FRI. THIS RIDGE SHOULD KEEP THE
AREA PRECIPITATION FREE THROUGH THE END OF THE WORK WEEK. THERE IS A
COLD FRONT SWEEPING SOUTH THROUGH THE AREA RIGHT NOW AND IT SHOULD
BE SOUTH OF THE CWA BY 06Z-12Z THU. A BIT OF COOLER AIR WILL SPREAD
ACROSS THE CWA BEHIND THIS FRONT TONIGHT WITH WEAK CAA SETTING UP.
GUSTY NORTHERLY WINDS ARE BEGINNING TO PICK UP ACROSS NORTH GA
BEHIND THIS FRONT AND THEY SHOULD CONTINUE THROUGH FRI MORNING.
TEMPS WILL BE ABOUT 5-10 DEGREES COLDER THAN SEASONAL NORMS THU WITH
NEAR SEASONAL TEMPS FRIDAY.

.LONG TERM /SATURDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY/...
MODELS ARE COMING IN LINE WITH NEXT FRONTAL SYSTEM EXPECTED TO MOVE
THROUGH THE STATE CHRISTMAS DAY. THERE IS STILL A BIT OF A TIMING
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE MODELS BUT ONLY BY 6-12 HOURS. THE GFS IS A
BIT QUICKER THAN THE ECMWF SO HAVE DONE A BIT OF A COMPROMISE
BETWEEN THE TWO. CURRENTLY MAIN LOW CENTER IS JUST OFF THE
CENTRAL/SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA COAST AND IS EXPECTED TO PUSH INLAND
OVERNIGHT AND WEAKEN AS IT MOVES OVER THE ROCKIES. THE MAIN LOW
CENTER REDEVELOPS OVER THE WESTERN GULF BY 06Z-12Z SAT THEN MOVES
EAST ACROSS FL AND EVENTUALLY MOVES UP THE EASTERN SEABOARD THROUGH
THE MIDDLE OF NEXT WEEK. AS THIS SYSTEM ENTERS THE GULF SAT IT
DEVELOPS A LARGE MOISTURE PLUME EXTENDING FROM THE MID ATLANTIC
STATES...DOWN THROUGH N GA AND OVER TO LOUISIANA. THIS PLUME MOVES
SOUTH THOUGH GA SAT/SAT NIGHT BRINGING RAIN/SNOW/FREEZING RAIN TO
THE AREA. N GA CAN EXPECT SNOW WITH SOUTH GA GETTING MOSTLY RAIN AND
A MIXTURE IN BETWEEN. THIS EVENT IS STILL THREE DAYS AWAY SO WE DONT
HAVE A GOOD HANDLE ON THE SITUATION JUST YET BUT FOR NOW IT LOOKS
LIKE NORTH GEORGIA WILL SEE 2 TO 3 INCHES WITH ISOLATED HIGHER
AMOUNTS IN THE NORTH GA MOUNTAINS...WITH AROUND AN INCH OF
ACCUMULATION ACROSS CENTRAL GA (NORTH OF A COLUMBUS TO MACON LINE).
AS THIS SYSTEM EXITS THE AREA IT MOVES RAPIDLY UP THE EAST COAST AND
DOES NOT ALLOW MUCH BACKSIDE MOISTURE TO MOVE IN. WILL STILL KEEP IN
A SLIGHT CHANCE ACROSS N GA FOR SUN MORNING WITH JUST FLURRIES
EXPECTED. AFTER SUN...ANOTHER RIDGE BUILDS IN AND KEEPS THE AREA DRY
THROUGH DAY 7. TEMPS BEGIN TO MODERATE A BIT MON WITH NEAR SEASONAL
TEMPS EXPECTED BY WED.

I'm just barely north of the 1 inch line, but it's better than the nothing they were forecasting just a couple hours ago!
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Quoting RitaEvac:


Makes me wonder if we'll be getting gale force winds on the back side along the upper TX coast, or it would be too early in the storm formation for that...
If it is a gale, there might be a storm surge like 93.
Member Since: June 21, 2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 1657
Quoting Grothar:


What did I do now?


Hello, Grothar! How are you doing?

You didn't do anything. Trouble just seems to find its way to you.LOL
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Quoting bappit:
Response to Inyo:

The example given to me in college of Aristotle's four causes was: You walk into a building and find a statue. You ask, "What is it doing here?"

Material cause: it is made of bronze and held down by gravity. It is heavier than air, so it does not float.

Formal cause: this is a museum. You should expect to find statues in a museum.

Efficient cause: some guys brought that in and left it there.

Final cause: it is Beethoven's birthday, so we wanted to commemorate him with this statue.

Saying that the sun heats the earth is trivially true, like saying the statue is here because it is made of bronze and won't float away: not very informative. Without perturbing the system, over time the amount of heat coming in will balance the amount going out. The question is how will the distribution of heat in the atmosphere and oceans change with increasing concentrations of green house gases? The increasing CO2 is like the guys carrying the statue into the building, the thing that is changing the status quo.


Bappit, I think one should examine Aristotle's observation of the 'four elements', before one can deduce a conclusion of the 'four causes'- At least that is what he told me.
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Quoting NavarreMark:


You ain't kiddin bro. Its makes for a cold bed. LOL


Been there, huh? HA
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26117
Response to Inyo:

The example given to me in college of Aristotle's four causes was: You walk into a building and find a statue. You ask, "What is it doing here?"

Material cause: it is made of bronze and held down by gravity. It is heavier than air, so it does not float.

Formal cause: this is a museum. You should expect to find statues in a museum.

Efficient cause: some guys brought that in and left it there.

Final cause: it is Beethoven's birthday, so we wanted to commemorate him with this statue.

Saying that the sun heats the earth is trivially true, like saying the statue is here because it is made of bronze and won't float away: not very informative. Without perturbing the system, over time the amount of heat coming in will balance the amount going out. The question is how will the distribution of heat in the atmosphere and oceans change with increasing concentrations of green house gases? The increasing CO2 is like the guys carrying the statue into the building, the thing that is changing the status quo.
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Quoting NRAamy:
I hate that song!!!!!!!

AAAGGHHHHH!!!!!!


Sorry, I thought I was doing something nice. Are you always this hard to please?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26117
Quoting NavarreMark:
Some are in a panic over snow. Some are in a panic of GW.

I love this blog.


Real panic is waking up at 3 in the morning and remembering that you didn't put out the garbage.........after an unnamed someone had told you 3 times. That is panic!
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26117
I hate that song!!!!!!!

AAAGGHHHHH!!!!!!
Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 317 Comments: 31946
Quoting NRAamy:
Groth.... I'm currently in my Hello Kitty raft, floating out to sea....


This is for you Amy.

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Quoting JFLORIDA:


No its actually resolving it more. Run the GFS looking at the coast of Texas around the 28th.


Makes me wonder if we'll be getting gale force winds on the back side along the upper TX coast, or it would be too early in the storm formation for that...
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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.