By Taylor Rice
A new atmospheric river threatens California with more harsh weather. The strong winds and heavy rains could bring more dangers to people still recovering from the recent snow and rain storms.
An atmospheric river is a long band of tropical moisture that gets carried along middle and upper parts of the atmosphere. This moisture-packed storm will bring warm air into higher elevations as it moves inland.
While a warmer storm compared to the recent cold storm onslaught may seem comforting to some individuals, the consequences caused by the tropical storm will far outweigh the benefits.
The heavy rains brought by the atmospheric river will threaten to rapidly wash away the almost record breaking snow packs on intermediate slopes, and spread fresh snow over the higher elevations. The melting snow and heavy rains will put California residents at life-threatening risk of flooding, deadly mudslides, and avalanches. Residents are also still recovering from being buried in the recent “once-in-a-generation” snow storms.
Snow is piled up on elevations as low as 2,000 to 2,500 feet in the coastal ranges and Sierra Foothills, and is high enough to trap people in their homes. Warm rain will drench these areas in the upcoming days, and most of the snow as low as 4,000 feet will likely be melted. Water will be running down roads, and drains will likely be clogged. This will create slippery road conditions.
“It could get ugly”, David Rowe, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, warned SFGate. “Probably most of the melt will be in the foothills. The snow pack is so deep in the higher elevations, even though we’re expecting a lot of rain it will probably soak right in at the higher elevations.”
The specific atmospheric river is called a “pineapple express” and will extend 2,400 miles from California to the southwest of the Hawaiian islands. The snow levels will probably get up to 8,000 feet during this event. However, since it’s a tropical storm, Valley locations are likely to break into the 60s, and the foothills might reach temperatures in the mid-50s. Truckee and Yosemite are expected to hit a high of 42 degrees.
This atmospheric river poses a great threat to the people of California. With the recent snow packs from the previous cold storm, we have ample reason to fear flash floods, mudslides, and avalanches in the coming days due to the warmer rain. So, be prepared, stay alert, and stay safe.