Atmospheric River

A powerful storm is heading towards California, threatening the state with flooding, landslides, high winds, and power outages. The storm has tapped into an atmospheric river, a narrow corridor or filament of concentrated moisture in the atmosphere.

  • These "rivers in the sky" can transport 15 times the volume of the Mississippi River, and when the moisture reaches the coast and moves inland, it rises over the mountains, generating rain and snowfall. Atmospheric rivers occur globally, affecting the west coasts of the world's major land masses, including Portugal, Western Europe, Chile, and South Africa.
  • The storm arriving in California is part of a series of atmospheric river storms that climate scientists have forecast will continue this month. It is also being referred to as a "bomb cyclone" because it is expected to be marked by a quick drop in atmospheric pressure, resulting in a high-intensity storm. A possible tornado also touched down near Montgomery, Alabama, on January 4, 2023.
  • The storm has already left more than 76,000 people in the San Francisco Bay Area and nearly 19,000 more along the Central Coast without electricity.
  • Dozens of flights out of San Francisco have been cancelled, and some schools have also cancelled classes for students. The storm is expected to drop over 25 centimeters of rain.

California Governor Declares State of Emergency

  • In response to the storm, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on January 4, 2023, to allow for a quick response. The southern part of the state is severely affected, according to the National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center. Evacuations have been ordered in high-risk coastal areas.
  • The storm generated almost 14-meter-high waves out at sea and prompted warnings of floods and mudslides. It comes as the state was recovering from another powerful storm that hit just days ago.

A powerful storm is heading towards California, threatening the state with flooding, landslides, high winds, and power outages. The storm has tapped into an atmospheric river, a narrow corridor or filament of concentrated moisture in the atmosphere that can transport large amounts of water. California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in response to the storm, which is expected to drop over 25 centimeters of rain and cause other disruptions. The state is already recovering from another storm that hit just days ago.

 

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