Sunday, February 09, 2014

Cry Me An Atmospheric River

We asked for it, didn't we? People prayed, chanted, did rain dances, beseeched their favorite spirits. "Give us rain. Give us rain." And so it did pour. I mean POUR.

This is a screen grab of the atmospheric river pouring in California. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about atmospheric rivers. It's quite illuminating:

The term was originally coined by researchers Reginald Newell and Yong Zhu of theMassachusetts Institute of Technology in the early 1990s, to reflect the narrowness of the moisture plumes involved.[1][3][5] Atmospheric rivers are typically several thousand kilometers long and only a few hundred kilometers wide, and a single one can carry a greater flux of water than the Earth's largest river, the Amazon River.[2] There are typically 3-5 of these narrow plumes present within a hemisphere at any given time.
A greater flux of water than the Amazon River? No wonder this storm dropped more than ten inches (25 cm) of rain in three days. Well, to be perfectly honest, this storm gave us 8 1/2 inches (21.59 cm) of rain on Friday and Saturday. We had 1 1/2 inches (3.8 cm) on Thursday from a cold front that came through. On Friday the warm front known as the Pineapple Express arrived, and as I sit here and type this on Sunday morning, it is still lightly raining. We've gotten more rain in three days than average rainfall for the entire month of February. Yikes.

A lot of people think and fervently hope that this storm will solve the drought. It's an understandable wish, but it does not get us out of our water predicament at the moment. I found this great graphic that does a good job showing what we need and what we are getting from this storm.

We're hoping for more rain over the next few days and weeks. Sure would be nice to get it a few hours at a time, a few days a week, instead of all at once.

Still, if the atmosphere wants to cry us a river, we'll take it whenever we can get it.

20 comments:

  1. That old saying "Be careful what you ask for..." is certainly true, but you need it and from now on, I hope your rainfall will be more common and well-rationed.

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  2. Glad everyone is so pleased. Let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.

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  3. kenju-- Yes, we would like that as well, common and well-rationed.

    Pablo-- LOL! Could you make it rain only at night with daytime sunshine and temps in the low 70s. Thank you!

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  4. That's a lot of rain BUT....
    "A record 1,870 mm (73 in) of rain fell in 24 hours in Cilaos (alt. 1,200 m, 3,940 ft), Reunion, Indian Ocean on 15 and 16 Mar 1952. This is equal to 7,554 tonnes of rain per acre."
    Amazing what you can find in "The Guinness Book Of Records"!

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  5. John-- That kind of deluge would pretty much send California crumbling into the sea. I can't even begin to imagine what a rain like that would feel like. The 48 hours that produced 8 1/2 inches of rain here was wild. Seventy-three inches in one day, a true disaster.

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  6. wheeeeeeeee! find some tubes and take a float together!

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  7. Sky-- We really should take a ride to the river and have a look. Maybe after this rain lets up tomorrow.

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  8. I remember how hard it can rain in California. The term "atmospheric river" is new to me and explains that kind of rain. Fascinating weather photos. The dark area in the upper center looks like a bird in flight.

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  9. we've had slow steady rain for 3 days, and more scheduled for tomorrow, just an hour west of you. I'm loving it! The dog, not so much. Tough on her.

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  10. am-- I hadn't noticed that bird-like swirl of wings in the clouds. Beautiful!

    Tara-- It's amazing how those 60 miles between here and there makes such a difference in terms of rainfall. We've gotten 13 inches of rain since Thursday. I think Sac got 3 at the most. It's wild.

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  11. Drought it seems out West is never "solved", it is just delayed for a period of time. Glad you have some moisture finally. After all, winter is your rainy season and it looked like this winter was going to be a dry one.

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  12. MRMacrum-- It's true. The water situation in California is never really solved. We have certainly complicated a natural cycle. Really glad to have this big storm. It actually produced 13 inches of rain here in four days.

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  13. The bucket and the mug say it all.

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  14. I'll bet you're reveling in the rain, even if it came in too concentrated a form. My brother-in-law in San Diego reported two rain events last week--nothing as substantive as yours, of course. He also commented: "It rains two times this winter, and you might know I'd be on my motorcycle during one of those two times!" Maybe he should go out on his motorcycle more often!

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  15. I was glad to see you all have been getting some rain, even though it's too much at once. We have been preoccupied with our own weather events around here. We're in the middle of the latest right now, with a little over three inches of snow on the ground.

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  16. As it relates to that bucket and cup example of rainfall, we got about a shot glass down here. That's a good thing though, because like people are saying, we need steady rainfall, but not heavy rainfall. When it happened a few years ago here, Laguna Canyon turned into a river and did a lot of damage in Laguna Beach. Slow and steady rain. That isn't too much to ask for, right?

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  17. NCMountainwoman-- Yes, I thought the same thing!

    Scott-- We were very glad to have the rain. Our backyard gauge said it was 13 inches from Thursday through Sunday. Pretty impressive, but crazy all at once.

    Mark P-- Your weather is starting to sound very crazy lately. I heard about an ice storm headed your way. Hope everything and everyone stays safe.

    Pat-- It would be nice to have a slow and steady rain instead of a three-day downpour. I'm starting to wonder if it ever rains like that, or if it's always got to be this kind of torrent.

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  18. that screen grab from the weather channel or wherever puts me in mind of what Rosemary's Baby's ultrasound would look like.

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  19. The heavens have opened here, and the snowpack may reach normal by the end of an aqueous week.

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  20. Sure wish more of that rain had slipped farther south. We are pretty dry here in Fresno.

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