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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Raining Rivers

Raining Rivers

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Friday, February 6, 2015/Categories: natural history, environment

Satellite image of West Coast weather-system, 2-5-15  (credit: NOAA)

A persistent high pressure system that had been sitting over the western USA has finally dissipated and a more typical winter weather pattern has developed. It is another example of the "pineapple express" that sucks high atmoshperic moisture from the tropical Pacific Ocean and moves it towards the West Coast. Often called a "river of rain", and is welcome news to drought-stressed California. Some regions could receive 10 inches of rain and maybe more as snow in the Sierra mountains where snow packs remain low. The NOAA satellite image of the "river of rain" captured on February 5th provides the impressive extent of the moisture coverage.As one weather news commentary noted:

"the storm is a welcome change after six dry weeks in the Bay Area. For the first time in recorded history, there was no measurable rainfall in downtown San Francisco in January, when winter rains usually come.
It would take 150 percent of the average rainfall for California to recover from the dry period, state water resource officials say.

The issue still remains as to why a persistent high pressure system, that has deflected recent winter storm systems, keeps developing over the western US. Historical climate fluctuations provide only a partial answer. Climate change models could provide additional metrics.

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