California to get clobbered with wet atmospheric river this weekend

Every once in awhile California gets a “Pineapple Express” this is more like an El Niño express as the source of this moisture river extends all the way across the Pacific to the Phillipines, near the “warm pool” area that gets created by an El Niño event.

atmos-river

Source: http://www.nnvl.noaa.gov/view/globaldata.html#GFSW

Latest Forecast synopis:

 Area Forecast Discussion 
  National Weather Service Sacramento CA 
  854 AM PST FRI MAR 4 2016 
   
  .Synopsis...  
  Light to moderate precipitation will arrive later today. A strong 
  storm then arrives Saturday with heavy mountain snow, local 
  flooding, and potential for strong and damaging Valley winds. More 
  weather systems are expected Sunday, Monday, and late next week. 
   
  && 
   
  .Discussion... 
  Mostly cloudy skies prevail across much of the region as a very 
  moist airmass takes aim at the West Coast. A few light showers 
  are being detected on radar this morning, but aren`t amounting to 
  much impact. Short-range guidance (the HRRR and ARW) suggest the 
  potential for some isolated thunderstorms this afternoon and 
  evening. Instability will likely be somewhat limited by extensive 
  cloud cover, and so we don`t currently expect anything organized 
  to develop today. 
   
  Light to moderate precipitation will continue tonight into 
  Saturday before the next, much stronger system arrives. 
  Precipitation should begin to pick up substantially in the 
  afternoon and continue through the evening hours. Urban and small 
  stream flooding will be possible across much of the region, and 
  depending on precipitation rates we could also see debris flows 
  across recently burned areas. A big concern will be the wind 
  forecast with this system. Forecast southerly pressure gradients 
  increase to roughly 8mb between KSAC-KRDD, a fairly impressive 
  amount. We also haven`t seen this coupling of rain and wind in 
  quite some time. Considering the stress on trees due to the 
  drought, we could see a fair number of trees downed with this 
  storm. We are calibrating our messaging with this impact 
  accordingly. 
   
  Snow levels will start fairly high with this storm during the 
  heaviest periods of precipitation. Snow levels then rapidly drop 
  below pass levels to 3500-4500 feet late Saturday night and 
  through Sunday into Monday. With periodic snow between Saturday 
  night through Monday, we could be looking at 1 to 2 feet of snow 
  accumulation above 4500 feet or so, and up to 3 feet along the 
  highest peaks. 

Maps:

atmos-river-cold-front-NWS

atmos-river-total-precip

atmos-river-snow

 

103 thoughts on “California to get clobbered with wet atmospheric river this weekend

  1. Works for me. Depressing not to have had anything added to our snowpack for a couple of weeks. Bring it on!

  2. Does this answer Bob Tisdale’s question?

    Is the 2015/16 El Niño an El Niño Modoki? AND Is that the Reason Why This El Niño is Not Suppressing the California Drought as Expected?

      • No drought is San Diego county, we have too much raw water and too much processed water and we can’t get distributors to turn off the spigot. Our processed water.could be used for the people of Los Angeles.

        San Diego is filling reservoirs with this water while the rest of the state is thirsty. This is because we are the only coj ty that had an actionable long term water plan, and Even though there is more than enough water, the state is forcing us to save 1/3 anyway. Bizarre.

      • That’s amazing – it’s so good to hear San Diego had the foresight to plan for the future – but sad to hear that the state is being punitive…I keep hoping to hear CA has more dams planned.

      • According to this 2014 article, the best dam sites are already taken:

        http://www.mercurynews.com/science/ci_26444134/california-drought-why-doesnt-california-build-big-dams

        It may be cheaper to desalinate water.

        This part was also interesting:

        “Indeed, California has given out legal rights to five times as much water as rain and snow produce in average years, according to a new study by UC Merced. Since 1914, the state has given out rights to 370 million acre-feet, when a typical year of precipitation only provides about 70 million acre-feet to lakes, streams and rivers.”

        Whoa. Sounds like a real-life version of “The Producers”. :-)

      • “…It may be cheaper to desalinate water…”

        Even cheaper to just inject treated wastewater into the ground and bring it back when needed…and no waste solids like you get with desal.

        Look up “aquifer storage and recovery” (ASR).

    • Nothing ends the california drought! No matter how much it rains here, I will be told we’re still in a terrible drought.

      Rain ends a drought. What we have is insufficient water management for 40M people…

  3. Not only is Cali expected to finally get rain, but here in the center of the country we will finally get our Gulf Moisture back. Just in time for the emerging asparagus and strawberries.

    • “expected to finally get rain”

      Finally ?? We had torrential rain in N. Cal. the past couple of months. Reservoir levels above historical averages.

      • Its SoCal that needs the water. Plus Central Valley. Maybe you all will be generous and send down there to LA and San Diego. Maybe not. ‘Fun’ to watch a state writhe from self-inflicted decades long compounded wounds.

      • Phil, no those are good but look at the major reservoirs, Shasta, Oroville, etc. they are well below average, and constitute the bulk of Calif water storage, The smaller ones are all over the board. Click on the reservoirs in my link and look at the accompanying graphics. You can add in years as you choose. We are much better then last year and other historic droughts, but yet quite low. The state is still releasing some reservoirs more then necessary. After 2011 the brought the reservoirs down more then necessary right before four years of drought. (sometimes not an easy decision to make) New Melones for instance should be much higher yet they are letting water through more then necessary. http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/products/rescond.pdf

        Yes, I am grateful for the heavy systems coming in, and I think they should gets us to normal or above in many locations.

      • Thanks David. I have to say that I mostly follow Folsom and Shasta, because they have the most informative graphics (it’s easier to look at the pretty pictures, right?). The rain stopped here in the Bay Area, temporarily I think but, since it’s going to resume, I’m expecting another vertical spike in the Folsom graphic. (Note, this is a live link, so this post may not make sense too far into the future):

        http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cdecapp/resapp/resDetailOrig.action?resid=FOL

      • Sincere thanks, Phil! I should have continued looking for other detail pages, not just the high level summary. I know that some of the reservoirs they post on the page I referenced are artificially low due to maintenance work. Perris and Folsom are two of which I personally know. The latter being both shown frequently in the news as an example of how low our supplies are, and lately being the ONLY reservoir on my referenced page that is above normal! I wish the page that you pointed to was graphical, but I can capture the data and make my own graphs. Selection of data can lead to the misleading conclusions.

  4. Oh the humanity! Now flooding caused by Global Warming! Oh wait- that will be the result of 50years of bad water resource planning and development. Thank you Governor Brown.

    • +10
      yes the moonbeam and other “leaders” have failed to learn the 7Ps (Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance)

      Cheers!

      Joe

    • ”  Thank you Governor Brown.”
      Wait you wanted him to waste money preventing flooding when is wasn’t raining? Didn’t you know there’s a drought?

    • And notice how a huge portion of that anticipated precipitation over the Trinity Alps/NW California…will flow right back into the Pacific. Also, the State is releasing water from Folsom Lake, which (via Lake Natoma) will flow right back to the Pacific. Question: Is there no logic in examining pumping excess water from one reservoir to another? Or siphoning water from the rivers in the Trinity Alps to storage elsewhere? Expensive, yes, but then again so is high speed rail…

      • *snort* High-speed rail? I almost spit out my drink. $60 billion is the projected cost for a rail system that will neither be high-speed (due to all the stops) nor centrally connect the two terminals. I fully expect the cost to exceed $100 billion before major construction even takes place, and a final price tag anywhere from 1.5-3x that price. Imagine the engineering that could be done to solve water infrastructure issues for the next 200 years with that waste of resources.

        So glad not to live in the rarefied world of Kalifornia politics.

      • AZ–It’s utter insanity, isn’t it? I should have added a bit onto my comment clarifying that yes, it’s utterly stupid, sickening and moronic (so I totally agree with you). My point was only if you’re going to spend the public’s money like a friggin’ idiot, why not at least have the sense to spend it on something critical like water. Don’t get me started on high speed rail. I have spent too many hours (like hundreds of thousands of other drivers) stuck in traffic between the Peninsula and Sacramento–but noooo, let’s NOT try to fix the daily commute problem between the Central Valley and the Bay Area (where hundreds of thousands of man-hours are wasted each day), let’s focus on something that Southwest Airlines does better than any near-term government-run rail solution ever could. Think of what would happen to the real estate markets in Sacramento and Stockton if you could get to the Bay Area quickly–it would be impressive. I’m not saying we SHOULD spend that money (because after all, if it was a good investment the private sector would likely already have done it–though CA politics likely would prevent that), but just don’t throw it away on a stupid HSR project. I’d rather see the $ go toward water supply/mgmt.

  5. Don’t know enough about short term weather forecasting to comment on a weatherman’s site, but this looks hopeful for California.
    An interesting fact. After searching the CMIP5 and CMIP3 literature, I can find ZERO evidence that they ever simulate such phenomena as these atmospheric rivers, ‘Pineapple expresses’ or anything similar anywhere. And lots of evidence that the climate models do a very poor job on related clouds, precipitation, … With negative ‘projection’ implications.

  6. Clobbered with an express sloppy atmospheric pineapple.
    So how much does that normally cost in SFO?

  7. As an old-timer – and as someone also decidedly cursed by “bad weather interest”, I don’t think this is looking like much of a pineapple express. Feels like an imposter: blowing the right way, but delivering only big clouds and little droplets. (So far. I’m in Oakland.)

    And while wxp.unisys.com is showing on its GOES-W animated satellite GIF a nice accumulation of clouds over the Eastern Pacific (America’s West Coast), with good blowing patterns – again, compared to other Big Ones, this just doesn’t look record-shattering.

    I am reminded though of the Great Flood of 1862 … which started out with a winter having rather over-normal precipitation, a break, then the largest pineapple-express ever witnessed. One never really knows about these deals. It will now depend on whether the basic pattern stalls (in position, not approach speed), or whether the central Pacific will develop its usual large-scale high pressure ridges (that normally keep such atmospheric rivers either swinging at the ever-wet British Columbia-Washington-Oregon coast, or even further west … out at sea.)

    And delightfully not a single weather forecaster can really say with any certainty. This is a weather pattern dominated by coulds and maybes and is modeled to..

    GoatGuy

      • 34 years ago is not exactly ancient history, B.S.

        I moved from Berkeley to Red Bluff (just a bit north of our host) in the winter of ’82 . . and then it rained, and rained, and rained… Hard to forget that year’s wetness, and Noah seems the more appropriate Biblical character to ask about ; )

      • John,

        I was just sharing a little mirth with Goat as his words could be read as him remembering the great flood of 1862 personally. Your point about Noah is well taken. I guess I forgot the little emoticon. ;-)

        I arrived for a 7 year sentence in southern CA in 1993 (Ventura County). And within a year, my presence seems to have unleashed a series of disasters including the Northridge earthquake (1994), a biblical flood that ended a longstanding drought–complete with roads underwater, cliffs coming down on whole blocks of houses near me (La Conchita, 1995), and then a medfly (pestilence) invasion of the Camarillo area (1996) complete with weekly nighttime “Apocalyps Now” type helicopter aerial spraying.

        Then I came to realize that these events are routine and periodic in CA. No climate change forcing, but plenty of anthropogenic forcing (people building houses where they shouldn’t, huge populations trying to grow green lawns in a desert, etc).

        It seems to me that you can pretty much look at any 15 year period in the history of the state and find plenty of “oh my gosh, it’s worse than we thought and the world is ending” events.

      • Yeah, B.S., I first came to Cal. as a kid with my family, San Fernando valley area, and it didn’t take long to realize what that song said;

        It never rains in California
        But girl don’t they warn ya
        It pours, man it pours

    • the ever-wet British Columbia
      ====================
      we got clobbered overnight with the rain that California was supposed to get.

      so if water is such a problem, why no desalinators? You can probably get a good deal on a couple of barely used ones Flannery had built down in Oz. As soon as you install them it will start raining, and you can shut them down. Very much like a modern version of the indian rain dance.

  8. I like the sour grapes part of the forecast. Yeah, Okay, so we are getting some precipitation but the trees that have been suffering with drought will blow over! And..and the debris from the drought’s fires will be a problem. Its hard to get unalloyed decent news from these guys

      • “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now…
        Up and down and still somehow
        It’s clouds’ illusions I recall…
        I really don’t know why,
        At all.”

    • “My guess is that he had seen this somewhere in the past, and sort of forgot where it came from,” Mann said. “And thought that maybe he had come up with it. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.”

      Hmmmm, I think there is a name for that !! LOL

  9. That picture above looks a little bit like a hollow ghost.
    And of course everything is record warm these days, cause years past have been rated lower.

  10. Down South in Ca we’ve seen little rain so far this ‘season’ so any is welcomed. I remember canoes going down the street and surfboards pulled by trucks in the neighborhood so it will take a lot to impress me.

  11. Good information. Too bad it’s ‘punctuated’ with a run-on sentence. Please proof read (and add commas appropriately) before posting.

  12. So how many gallons of water is getting carried on to the land, and how much energy did it take to evaporate and transport that water for hundreds to thousands of miles?

    • If you stand on the beach in N. Cal. look up into the sky and have harp music playing at volume in your earphones, you can see atmospheric carbon dioxide doing that, no problem …..

      …… too many glasses of wine will help also.

      • Ahh, the best thing to come out of California … wine. Actually, the best thing to come out of the earth in its entirety, IMHO. And while I’m partial to bordeauxs from France, I do like my California wines, as well as Chilean, South African, and Australian. Mmm!

        *looks at clock*

        Is 11:41 AM too early to pop a cork?

  13. “…the “warm pool” area that gets created by an El Niño event.”

    I thought the warm pool was recharged during a La Nina, setting the stage for the next El Nino. Do I understand this incorrectly?

  14. The team of experts who have devoted their professional lives to keeping us informed about earth quakes is constantly telling us of the danger of a major quake and how we must be alert and prepared, etc. The team of experts who have devoted their professional lives to keeping us informed about wild fires is constantly telling us of the danger of a major wild fire and how we must be alert and prepared. etc. The team of experts who have devoted their professional lives to keeping us informed about tsunamis is constantly telling us of the danger of a tsunami hitting our coast and how we must be alert and prepared, etc. The team of experts who have devoted their professional lives to keeping us informed about the dangers from breathing polluted air is contantly telling us of the danger of pollution and must be alert and prepared, etc. The team of experts who have devoted their professional lives to keeping us informed about the dangers of drought is constanting telling us of the treat of droughts causing failure of crops, lack of drinking water, etc. The team…..
    In California alarmism is a way of life. As an old man I have finally learned to ignore them all and enjoy life.

    • Well said.

      Of course, being hit by tsunami is not much funnier than the big quake which will come. Drought is peanuts compared to a big quake.

    • Weather-channel John Coleman? If so, (well either way I suppose) I hope you’re retirement is a breeeezee.

    • John Coleman commented : “…In California alarmism is a way of life. As an old man I have finally learned to ignore them all and enjoy life.”

      +1

    • None of this will happen. We don’t have the technology to do it and attempting it, especially in the absence of a national carbon price in the U.S., would be economically devastating to Canadians and to our industrial sector.

      Toronto Sun readers and other Canadians will be wanting to emigrate to the US.
      President Trump welcomes you.

  15. The tropical Pacific warm pool around Indonesia is mentioned here as the heat (energy) source for the atmospheric river.
    A fundamental question that is seldom answered clearly is: What makes the warm pool appear warmer from time to time, erratically, roughly a few years apart.
    Does the extra heat come internally from redistribution of fairly fixed total heat within the oceans?
    Or does it come externally from processes that could include for example sub-sea volcanic activity?

    Ultimately the mechanisms might tie in together making the questions seem self-evident.
    But, the first mechanism seems to be allowed as a part of global warming GHG hypotheses.
    The second way does not need GHG effects.
    Geoff.

    • whenever I look at the Argo float map , the region around Indonesia, Phillipines, South China Sea, always seems to be virtually free of sensors .

      Is this a current or wind effect?

    • Geoff:

      The most accessible source of information about the Pacific Warm Pool and its relationship to El Nino/La Nina cycles is Bob Tisdale’s website (and his associated books):

      https://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/

      No one fully understands it, but personally I think it is closer to your first guess. La Nina and neutral conditions keep the intense solar warming “bottled up” in that area for a while (sea levels also go up there during those periods) until some sort of threshold is reached and it “spills out” with the eastward surface currents of El Nino.

      Of course, what starts as just differing distribution of energy can lead to changes of total energy in the system due to non-linear follow-on effects.

  16. The word “impact” gets too much use in weather and climate, they should just use effect, or affect.

  17. It matters not what part of the world one lives in. The population increases exponentially, it is imperative on all governments to be ahead of the game and plan 50 years ahead for infrastructure such as water. Green crap is destroying our future by being me me now. This dipstick governing Cal is the problem not the lack of rain fall.

  18. i’ll believe it if/when it happens…

    so far in this El Nope-o, my little part of The Valley has gotten, maybe, 6 measly inches of rain, like totally, fer sure.

  19. I’m not as concerned about the CA snow pack and reservoir status as I am about the groundwater stores, or lack of them. The aquifers have been drained to below critical levels throughout the state, thanks to lousy water management. Planting orchards and alfalfa fields in what was desert has always struck me as foolish, and has nothing to do with “anthropogenic climate change”.

    • You would think that the state would pump what it could into underground aquifers if they’re releasing water “in anticipation of heavy spring run-off”. We do it here in Arizona all the time; we’ve banked enough run-off that there’s no concerns about even the possibility of water restrictions until mid-2017 regardless of what happens to Colorado River flow rates.

      I wouldn’t anticipate being able to bank yuuuuge amounts of released water into aquifers, but any amount is better than simply letting it all bypass and run into the oceans. With fracking technology today, any collapsed substrates could be opened back up with high-intensity injection. Actually, I’m surprised there’s been no discussion about that in the media. It would go a long way towards ensuring long-term viability.

      • As far as storing runoff in aquifers, part of the Green ideology is that there are no engineering solutions for shortages, only conservation. Anything that might really give good results is crimethink.

      • I have been promoting both for a long time. Use aquifers to store flood waters rather then letting it run to the sea. Use fracking to enable and enhance the process. This has so many benefits. Take Xian in china, refill the aquifer with heave the worlds largest city walls back into place and store vast amounts of water. In California and UK where it is forbidden to build reservoirs, use what you have out of sight. Its not rocket science.

      • What has the potential so save more electricity, fossil fuel use and co2 emissions (not that we need either) than all the global windmills and solar plants?

        A simple heat exchanger in A/c outdoor units that captures heat and uses it to heat domestic water for free. Unlike the 500 billion cost of green Germany, this would effectively cost nothing.

        Because it works just like the recharge the aquifers. But, they dont want nor have any interest in things that work.

  20. I live is a California county covered by the extreme drought. The hills are deep Irish green, the lawn is saturated, Folsom Dam has been dumping water in anticipation of a strong spring runoff, the aqueducts are running at high capacity. The almond orchards are in full bloom. About 50% of CA water is allowed to flow directly into the ocean, right by my house. This is to keep salt water pushed backed passed a little town called Antioch, Shasta is basically a reservoir for this purpose. This was all settled in a lawsuit back in the late 20’s. Lol there is fraud in the data that is being used by environmentalists to justify this saltwater intrusion water waste (if anyone is interested, I have the original data and the manipulation) Anyways, the Gov Brown has the right idea in putting in the water tunnels on the Sac River, this will solve much of the water problem.

  21. Just attributing this to El Niño is a bit miss leading. This westward displaced El Niño has been an average rain maker at best for CA. A strong active phase of the MJO in the pacific combined with the El Niño base state is the real story here.

    • Yep, an MJO burp or actually maybe a couple of them. Some chance for another one later this week. Let’s talk in June, then we’ll know where we are really at.

  22. This storm forecast was right on. The rain started around midnight last night. It was a steady, light to moderate rainfall. Then around noon today a heavy burst came through for a short period. Now it is back to light to moderate steady rain.

  23. I live in SoCal. I was looking forward to a few flooded streets and a nice soaking for my newly xeriscaped, front yard before the long, seasonal drought sets in. So far, there’s been very little, less than 0.20″. But, I guess I’ll take whatever I can get.

  24. update from The Valley: my redneck rain gauges show we got ~1.5″ overnight, for a winter total of 7.5, so far.

    IOW, we’re still, like totally in a drought, fer sure.

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