What it looks like when a big atmospheric river hits CA

When an atmospheric river reaches California it's often a beautiful sight, especially in an infrared image drawm from NASA's AIRS satellite, explored in depth in this backgrounder from the Sacramento Bee: 

The exciting part is that — according to Duane Waliser, a lead scientist at the NASA-backed Jet Propulsion Lab — five-day forecasts of these "Pineapple Express} storms are now as skillful as three-day forecasts a few years ago, and as skillful as one-day forecasts a decade ago. The hope and expectation is that in time scientists will be able to forecast atmospheric river impacts three weeks into the future. 

“In certain instances, we’ll be able to have a little bit more foreshadowing – as in weeks-ahead notice,” Waliser said. “However, we’re just learning that capability, but this holds promise for that.”

It's not easy to imagine that, but a little easier after looking at this water vapor image from AIRS, which shows how the storm developed over the month of Febuary, reaching out and almost touching California before it came together and overwhelmed the West. 

But the real news for Ojai locally and yours truly is that something important happened for the first time in at least a year and a half:


Sisar Creek began to run.

Which raises a question: How many these "ARKstorms," as the USGS calls them, does it take to recharge the aquifer? Not how many inches. How many big storms? And is there a rating system for the size of these storms?  

To be reported out…

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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