The 'Pineapple Express' delivers heavy rains, flooding to California


California which has long been suffering through a strong, multi-year drought, is finally beginning to see some much needed relief as a result of a recent series of storms that are part of a weather pattern known as the “Pineapple Express.”

This visible image of the storm system affecting the U.S. Pacific Coast was taken from NOAA's GOES-West satellite on Jan. 9, 2017 at 8:35 a.m. EST (1345 UTC). Credits: NASA/NOAA GOES Project
This visible image of the storm system affecting the U.S. Pacific Coast was taken from NOAA’s GOES-West satellite on Jan. 9, 2017 at 8:35 a.m. EST (1345 UTC). Credits: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

The Pineapple Express is known as an atmospheric river. A large, slow-moving low pressure center off of the West Coast taps into tropical moisture originating from as far south as the Hawaiian Islands. This moisture is then channeled northeast by the subtropical jet steam towards the West Coast where the topography aids in squeezing out the moisture as air flows over the mountain ranges. Though these rains are certainly welcome and very much needed, they have also led to flooding and mudslides.

The first storm in the series arrived in the middle of last week, the week of January 2, and brought rain to northern and central California. The next storm occurred over the weekend of January 7 and 8 and brought heavy rains again to mostly northern and central California although southern California also received significant amounts. This event lead to widespread flooding, down trees and mudslides, especially in the Sierra Nevada where hurricane force winds occurred and Interstate 80 was closed due to a massive mudslide. Blizzard, winter storm, high wind, and flood warnings are already in effect as the third plume of moisture in this series is already making its way through the interior part of the state where several feet of snow are expected in the Sierra Nevada.

The TRMM-based, near-real time Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland has been used to monitor rainfall over the global Tropics for many years. By subtracting the long-term average rainfall or climatology, rainfall anomalies can be constructed to show deviations from the normal pattern.

TRMM is the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite that was in operation from 1997 to April 2015. It was designed to measure rainfall over the global Tropics using both passive and active sensors, including the first and at the time only precipitation radar in space. With its combination of passive microwave and active radar sensors, TRMM was used to calibrate rainfall estimates from other satellites to expand its coverage. TRMM’s successor, the Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core satellite was launched on February 27, 2014. TRMM and GPM are joint missions between NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA.

The TMPA analysis was used to find rainfall anomalies for the one month period ending on January 10, 2017. During this period, higher-than-average precipitation extended from over and east of the Hawaiian Islands northeastward into California and covers most of the state, eastern Oregon and much of the northern Rockies. Embedded within this region are areas of much higher than average rainfall located northeast of Hawaii and over parts of central California with most of this due to the recent, ongoing atmospheric river event.

This TMPA image for the one month period ending on Jan. 10, 2016 showed average to slightly below average rainfall (yellow areas) had fallen over the central and interior parts of California during this period. Credits: NASA/JAXA, Hal Pierce
This TMPA image for the one month period ending on Jan. 10, 2016 showed average to slightly below average rainfall (yellow areas) had fallen over the central and interior parts of California during this period. Credits: NASA/JAXA, Hal Pierce

In contrast to the current situation, a 2016 analysis for the same time period showed average to slightly below average rainfall had fallen over the central and interior parts of California during this period. Also evident in the analysis is the well-pronounced, massive area of well above average rainfall associated with last year’s El Nino where well above average sea surface temperatures stretched across the central, equatorial Pacific bringing much enhanced shower activity. That has now been replaced by La Nina conditions, which tend to suppress rainfall in this region as shown by this year’s anomalies.

The current plume of moisture is expected to subside by this Friday with much drier conditions forecast for the weekend.

On Jan. 11, 2017 at 2:59 a.m. EST, the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center (NWS WPD) in College Park, Maryland noted “A series of Pacific storm systems will continue to impact the western U.S. with heavy rain and snow through the next couple days. One frontal system will move across the Great Basin toward the Rockies today, bringing widespread snow to much of the interior western U.S. Snow will persist across the central Rockies into Thursday as the front weakens overhead.”

The second low pressure system is forecast to affect California by late in the day on January 13, when it is expected to generate rain and mountain snow. Snow is expected over much of the Great Basin on January 14 with scattered rain showers farther south over portions of the Southwest.

The potential for heavy rain and snow across the West will persist as these two systems traverse the region.


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January 11, 2017 12:30 pm

odd, every time it’s dry is a permanent drought
…but every time they flood…it’s never a permanent flood

Reply to  Latitude
January 11, 2017 12:32 pm

Can we split the difference and call it a permanent damp?

Reply to  ClimateOtter
January 11, 2017 1:12 pm

Maybe this will clear up the logic of a climastrologist:

Reply to  ClimateOtter
January 17, 2017 7:22 am

It’s a Permanent Drought… until we get anomalous Extreme Weather with its CAGW caused Floods!

Caligula Jones
Reply to  Latitude
January 11, 2017 12:43 pm

Permanent, in this case, means “election cycle”, as in, “you have to elect me so I can solve climate change, which caused this permanent drought”.
After being elected, claim that the rains are also due to climate change.
Hey, it beats working for a living.

bill johnston
Reply to  Caligula Jones
January 11, 2017 5:29 pm

And we mocked folks who did the rain dance.

Reply to  Caligula Jones
January 11, 2017 6:46 pm

Yes, these rains were not suppose to happen since we were in a “permanent” drought. What is a liberal to do?

Caligula Jones
Reply to  Caligula Jones
January 12, 2017 9:52 am

“What is a liberal to do?”
Well, in the old days, say 1984 or so, the stuff you got wrong went into the memory hole. Or, as some would have it, the old data would be “updated”.
In all cases dry = wet. Eventually.

george e. smith
Reply to  Latitude
January 11, 2017 3:22 pm

And an atmospheric river is usually called “wind”.
We don’t usually segregate our atmospheric rivers into nitrogen rivers, oxygen rivers, argon rivers, Xenon rivers, methane rivers, CO2 rivers, H2O rivers ……..
They are just wind.

Reply to  george e. smith
January 11, 2017 4:22 pm

What do you want to bet they are going to start naming them too…
..because names are so much scarier

Phil R
Reply to  george e. smith
January 11, 2017 6:05 pm

george e. smith,
I like your comments and agree with you 97% of the time (hey, studies show this is true). But i sort of can’t agree with this because, long before the insanity of “climate science,” the general public (generally smarter than “climate scientists”) observed patterns in the environment around them, e.g., the change in seasons, Chinook winds off the mountains, any number of strong wind patterns that I’m not familiar with in Europe, ocean currents, El Ninos and La Ninas, etc.
Most of the people who inhabit the earth and have to trust their experience and knowledge of weather and ocean patterns to survive and make a living and, to the best of their ability, come back alive describe patterns even if they don’t know how they occur or why. I don’t have a problem with the “Pineapple Express” for a descriptive term of what people experience, it’s the way climate scientists twist the science to enrich themselves and push a social/political objective that I have a problem with.
(Full disclosure. if this is incoherent, I blame it on the wine).

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  george e. smith
January 11, 2017 6:12 pm

Breaking: wind!

Reply to  george e. smith
January 11, 2017 9:21 pm

+1, just the latest groupthink fad. If everybody who is anybody is down with it, it must be true…

george e. smith
Reply to  george e. smith
January 12, 2017 12:05 pm

For PhilR
I too have no problem with “Pineapple express” it’s always been called that; but this atmospheric river thing gives me the heeebie jeebies.

January 11, 2017 12:31 pm

I haven’t heard from any of my friends who (are trapped) live in CA but betting it is already being blamed on ‘man-made’ something-or-other. Oh! Time to check water reservoir levels in the north….

Reply to  ClimateOtter
January 11, 2017 12:37 pm
Reply to  Latitude
January 11, 2017 12:47 pm
Reply to  Latitude
January 11, 2017 1:35 pm

Bill Nye, the sciency guy… What a maroon! What devastating floods? Flooding?, yes! Devastation, no! This is just part of our normal pattern. Moderate rainfall interspersed with monsoons at +/- 10 year intervals. That is how we get an average for rainfall. But unlike the misused normal rainfall meme, there is no such thing. Can’t somebody besides the three or four of us who post here go an look at the records? 1955, 1964, 1979, 1983 & 1986, 1997, 2005, and now! Tada! 2016. Who could possibly have thought we might have another unprecedented amount of rain in two or three storms. And I’m sure the pattern extends backward as well. I seem to recall hearing tales from my father’s youth in Dunsmuir, CA of having to plow the highway with bulldozers because there were no truck mounted plows that could do the job.

george e. smith
Reply to  Latitude
January 11, 2017 3:24 pm

He’s watching ping pong with his 3D glasses; Don’t disturb him. He’s safer when he’s watching ping pong.

Jeff Labute
Reply to  Latitude
January 11, 2017 5:20 pm

Bill Nye the guy would be more accurate, and even that I can only say with 95% certainty.

Reply to  Latitude
January 11, 2017 7:21 pm

Bill Nye, the science scam guy.

James Fosser
Reply to  Latitude
January 11, 2017 7:30 pm

Why is he wearing cinema 3-D glasses?Do I need a pair to read the post?

Brook HURD
Reply to  Latitude
January 11, 2017 8:45 pm

I wonder if he believes that the California Megaflood in 1861-1862 was due to global warming. That flood was also caused by an atmospheric river. Sacramento was flooded so badly that governor had row back to the Governor’s Mansion. He had to get in through the second story window. I would pay money to watch Cowfart Brown do that!

Reply to  ClimateOtter
January 11, 2017 3:44 pm

Actually Jerry and the gang are still trying to maintain the drought.

January 11, 2017 12:45 pm

Sheesh. Sometmes I just hate it when I’m right. You catching this CO2isLife? Told ya so!
I predicted this would be the wettest California winter in 20 years last February (when in was 90F). There really is something to be said for experience. OK, I’m gloating a bit, but only superficially. I really didn’t want to live through this a second time. I had plans I made 4 years ago to be somewhere else when this happened.
I still retain hope I’ll escape before a repeat of Loma Prieta.

Reply to  Bartleby
January 11, 2017 12:48 pm

“I had plans I made 4 years ago to be somewhere else when this happened.”
Being dead by now was a distinct possibility.

Reply to  Bartleby
January 11, 2017 4:48 pm

Sheesh. Sometmes I just hate it when I’m right. You catching this CO2isLife? Told ya so!

I’m picking up what you are laying down. Is this a smoking gun for the list? If so, what should I write?

Reply to  co2islife
January 11, 2017 6:46 pm

I don’t know. It just seems so weird we had this very conversation less than 24 hours ago. I feel like I jinxed you or something…
Did you ever get out the door for Squaw?

Reply to  Bartleby
January 11, 2017 9:25 pm

Great call. Experience matters. Make sure you get more of it.

Reply to  Bartleby
January 11, 2017 9:32 pm

From Sept 14 2015…
” “The good news is that this should be the last year of the drought. This fall/winter rainfall should be normal to slightly above normal. The winter of 2016/17 has a strong chance of bringing in a west coast flood event. That will erase the drought. It is currently raining in Northern California. This is the first September rain in years. This is like the old days back in the 1950s/60s when every September would have some rains, and occasionally there could be several weeks of in in September. The climate shift towards cooling is underway.” ……”
I first came up with the basis for the prediction in early 2014. I correctly called the return of average to above average rains in the PNW for the winters of 2014/15 and 2015/16. Then I had this winter correctly pegged as a likely year to see streams and rivers at flood levels, although I did expect to see those conditions around here where I live as well as further north into Oregon. There is still several months left where that may occur. Otherwise 2017/18 was second choice, or the idea was wrong in the first place. The basis for my reasoning is historical data as well as how I view the current solar cycle and eastern Pacific Ocean ssta changes.

John F.
January 11, 2017 12:52 pm

I remember one Pineapple Express in 2006 that ended up washing out roads, a campground and some trails in Mt. Rainier National Park.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  John F.
January 11, 2017 1:16 pm

From a different John F.:
I sometimes find myself in Mt. Rainier N. P. helping to fix or build new trail.
Such storms provide long term job security.
Too bad they don’t pay the volunteers. I go with WTA dot org.

george e. smith
Reply to  John F. Hultquist
January 11, 2017 3:26 pm

That’s what “volunteers” means.
If you want to get paid; don’t volunteer.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  John F. Hultquist
January 11, 2017 4:25 pm

george @ 3:26
If I wanted the pay, I’d find easier work.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  John F.
January 11, 2017 1:21 pm
January 11, 2017 1:02 pm

“That has now been replaced by La Nina conditions, which tend to suppress rainfall in this region as shown by this year’s anomalies.”
I’m sorry but this is just too fundamentally ignorant to, well if I must say it, ignore. Perhaps I should have written fundamentally stupid” instead of “ignorant” to avoid the repetition.
La Nina produces a sharply cooler western Pacific, creating a low pressure area, drawing warm tropical moisture over the western US where it first encounters California’s coastal (Santa Cruz) range and drops much of it’s water (my home is in a rain forest south of San Francisco. Sequoia Sempervirens are rain forest trees), then the Sierra Nevada, where is drops more, and finally the northern Rockies (where my ranch in Etna WY used to be). I’ve been personally observing this effect for decades. It happens like clockwork.
It’s no wonder their models don’t work. Perhaps they should spend more time outside? On tractors?

Reply to  Bartleby
January 11, 2017 3:02 pm

Why bother with tractors and real-world observational data when you can have a computer model tell you what the world not only is supposed to be, but what it actually is – regardless of what Mother Nature does?

george e. smith
Reply to  Bartleby
January 11, 2017 3:38 pm

Ignorance is not a disease; we were all born with it.
But stupidity has to be taught.

Reply to  george e. smith
January 11, 2017 7:10 pm

The University climate departments are in lock-step, more like zombies than anything else. Honestly, why would anyone go into the science of climate research that that demands predetermined results before you start. That is not science, it is a cult of fanatics wasting money and lives. Change is “Blowing in the Wind”.

Brian H
Reply to  Bartleby
January 11, 2017 9:08 pm

its water

January 11, 2017 1:07 pm

This helps a lot, but does not solve the basic problem. Since 1970, California’s population has grown 76%. Its water storage capacity has grown 28%. And its draw from the Colorado Compact will eventually have to be reduced as it appears the original allocations overestimated the long term average annual basin flow by about 15-20%.

Reply to  ristvan
January 11, 2017 1:16 pm

Absolutely right Rudd. I’ve been saying this for a very long time. I just recently started campaigning for an appointment to my local water district but it’s really a state level problem. I was watermaster for my irrigation district in WY so I have some qualifications.
It was only a few months ago we had the city council in Paso Robles approve another 46 homes during a drought, with no concern about where they’d get water. I was assured that the city was only drawing 50% of its allotted water from the Paso Robles aquifer (ground water) but with no assurance there had been studies or investigation to verify the actual capacity of it.
This seems to be the game in CA; make claims you have more water than you have, then sell real estate based on those unverified claims. It’s just too stupid and venal to believe.

Reply to  Bartleby
January 11, 2017 2:03 pm

Not just Ca. The growth of Las Vegas metropolis and greater metropolitan Phoenix happened based on a flawed hydrological understanding of the Colorado basin. The bill is coming due. At least Ca has options for more reservoirs to conserve Sierra snowpack. Las Vegas and Phoenix don’t. I predicted in Gaia’s Limits that eventually it would be Arizona and central valley Ca agriculture that take the water hit. Bad for the entire country because the major source of fresh produce in winter. South Florida’s soils are too poor (sandy) to make up the difference. OTH, growing 5.5 million acres of water thirsty alfalfa for a bloated Ca dairy industry makes no sense. Bloated because milk subsidies size with distance from Madison Wisconsin, and Ca is as far away as you can get in the lower 48. Distortions on distortions.

Reply to  Bartleby
January 11, 2017 2:47 pm

Bartleby and Rudd, I was wondering if there were many aquifer recharge sites that were enabling the storm water to replenish the aquifers faster than normal drainage. I would have thought that these not unusual storms would be looked as a terrific way to bring water levels back up especially if recharge sites were built. Found an interesting USGS site named “California Water Science Center”and went to the artificial recharge projects page. Didn’t look like there were many projects on the go to capture water considering how important the resource is.
Right hand side of the page also has links to more information such as real time stream flow.

Reply to  Bartleby
January 11, 2017 3:08 pm

Polski, its an intriguing idea but under-researched with some basic problems. Essence is to bypass normal slow percolation with fast recharge tube wells and such. Problem is you then introduce aquifer contamination that would otherwise be filtered/neutralized by slow percolation and associated biology. There is much discussion of this technology in freshwater water short South Florida (if you want to preserve the Everglades). Too much buildup, so too little percolation and too much runoff. Now most runoff goes to the ocean to harm our coral reefs. Coastal fresh water lenses sit over salt water intrusions and are depleting. Biscayne aquifer in Miami is a classic example of all above. Solution so far has been grey water used for e.g. Golf course irrigation (requiring two water systems) or put into very shallow aquifers with well water drawn from deeper ones after at least some percolation. Example Fort Lauderdale. Note my tap water there has a green tinge despite high chlorine– so we use charcoal filtration for all drinking/cooking water.

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  Bartleby
January 11, 2017 6:20 pm

ristvan, “direct potable reuse” is out there in a few places…some FL utilities are exploring it.
Need to get rid of waste/reclaimed water, need drinking water…kill two birds with one stone.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Bartleby
January 11, 2017 9:43 pm

There are dams in the SF Bay Area that I’m familiar with whose main purposes are to assist with flood control and recharge the aquifer. Winter rains are impounded behind dams such as Guadalupe and Almaden, to name two, and then the waters are released during the Summer and Fall into shallow ponds in gravels on the edges of what has come to be known as Silicon Valley. Santa Clara Valley originally had Artesian wells. By the 1920s, the wells were already so deep as to concern residents. By the 1970s, water wells were typically several hundred feet deep. However, there are only so many locations suitable for impoundment, and real estate on the floor of the valley is so expensive that it would be difficult to increase the effort.

Reply to  Bartleby
January 12, 2017 8:02 am

Golf courses in most water restricted areas have been using reclaimed water for years. Often it is the best solution since the course can’t get potable water and cities have to get rid of it. Reclaimed water is usually more nutrient rich but also has more salts so courses often have to flush the salts out of the soil profile. The supers in California will be pleased with recent rains, unless of course the volume of water causes flooding and wreaks havoc with turf and buildings.
In many areas course are growing paspalum which once established can be watered with brackish water. This has become very popular especially on tropical island courses with scarce water supplies. It can be used for greens to roughs surviving cutting heights as low as .125″. Paspalum does have some issues such as bermuda encroachment during rainy seasons but is a well established tool for courses to use.

Reply to  ristvan
January 11, 2017 1:36 pm
This is my favorite page whenever something comes up about California and its reservoirs. It can be a bit quirky at times but usually seems to be decent.

Reply to  SMC
January 11, 2017 6:19 pm

There are 1,404 dams in California. I wonder how many of these are still used (still there). I think if these dam/reservoirs were put to use in the proper way, that a lot of the water problems could be rectified…:

Reply to  SMC
January 11, 2017 6:27 pm

Interactive map giving dam height, volume and area etc, of reservoir/pond if you click/mouse-over on each dot.:

Reply to  SMC
January 11, 2017 6:35 pm

Oops, doesn’t give volume…mouse over doesn’t work – you have to click…

Reply to  SMC
January 12, 2017 2:00 pm

J. Phil
An excellent resource.
Many thanks!
Auto – in a land where much of the hydro is already in use.
And not at all that everything else has been shut down. Officially, that is.

January 11, 2017 1:11 pm

The recent average snow levels are lower than they’ve been for the last few similar events. For a little while, it was 8-9K feet, but its mostly been below 5K. This one is dumping huge amounts of snow at 8K, 12′ or more has fallen since the beginning of the year when the storm sequence started. Wind speeds at the top of Squaw Peak were in excess of 140 mph. I-80 has been closed from Colfax (2-3K feet) all the way to the Nevada state line. Ski resorts have all been closed for the last 3 or 4 days and today there are wide spread black out conditions. This is like the pattern we were back in the 80’s, when the snow walls on the side of I-80 towered above the tops of semi-trucks. The road just opened. I’m out of here …

Stewart Pid
Reply to  co2isnotevil
January 11, 2017 1:55 pm

Black out conditions or white out? I’ve never heard the cloud and snow called black out.

Myron Mesecke
Reply to  Stewart Pid
January 11, 2017 2:25 pm

That’s when the soot from China coats the snow.

Reply to  Stewart Pid
January 11, 2017 9:59 pm

Power failures, so both white out and black out. Power just came on as I arrived.

January 11, 2017 1:22 pm

“This is like the pattern we were back in the 80’s”
I remember ’83 was heavy, then ’86 to, but I think the closest so far has been the ’96 season.
Good luck getting there before the Express turns it all to slush and you can raft down main street in Truckee. Again. 🙂

January 11, 2017 1:23 pm

Is this the Jan 10, 2017 TRMM TMPA image you were describing in the headpost?
comment image

January 11, 2017 1:37 pm

The “Pineapple Express” has been a good term, but there is a better description.
“Maui Monsoon”
How much precipitation is suggested in “Express”.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  subtle2
January 11, 2017 6:12 pm

Monsoon ==> Season
Doesn’t help.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
January 11, 2017 8:18 pm

In India and surrounding countries there is a dry monsoon (winds are northerly and come in from over the Himalayas) and a wet monsoon (winds are southerly and come in from over the Indian Ocean)

January 11, 2017 2:00 pm

Such changing weather patterns happen all the time. They are not indicative of climate change and are part of the current climate. If Mankind could somehow stop the climate from changing then such extreme weather events would persist because they are part of the current climate. I do not believe that there has ever been a global climate without extreme weather events. Everyone complains about the weather but no one does anything about it. So far Mankind has been unable to change one weather event let alone change global climate.

John V. Wright
January 11, 2017 2:10 pm

What an elegantly explained and well-researched short article on the Pineapple Express – and certainly enlightening for those of us living in the UK who “enjoy” different and discrete weather systems.
We are all grateful for the platform that Anthony provides for many people to bring research, expertise and opinion to the table about climate change; and the bulwark WUWT provides against those who try to fudge the scientific method and besmirch the reputation of honest scientists who provide contrarian evidence to the prevailing warmist viewpoint.
But reading this reminds us of Anthony’s original study, passion and discipline. Please can we all make sure that we never take this service – or these beautifully-written pieces – for granted.

January 11, 2017 2:36 pm

We had a pretty good La Nina in 10-11 with a ton of moisture then too! Seems like we have been getting more rain in So Cal with La Nina’s than El Nino’s in the past 10 years.

Philip Mulholland
January 11, 2017 2:40 pm

Meanwhile in Algeria it’s snowing in the Sahara again.
Prévision météo du 12-01-2017
Vent : 21.0 Km/h, / NNE, hum : 85.0 %
Chutes de neige
Température :
Min : -3.0°C / Max : 5.0°C

Reply to  Philip Mulholland
January 11, 2017 2:50 pm

Thats a sure sign of AGW. Was predicted in all the earlier IPCC reports—NOT.

Stewart Pid
Reply to  Philip Mulholland
January 11, 2017 3:29 pm

Although it likely is a dry cold 😉

January 11, 2017 2:50 pm

Radar shows much precip in Utah. I hope this raises the level in Lake Mead a good bit.

January 11, 2017 2:52 pm

Because the idiot climate change worshipers in California have been sitting on their collective (Marxist) butts since this drought began, all this rain has been a curse rather than a blessing–all that water has been destructive at worst and wasted at best and ends out in the Pacific!

R.S. Brown
January 11, 2017 2:58 pm

OT, maybe…
Tomorrow, January 12th is this month’s full moon… higher tides all ’round.
Today is the 7th day in a row without sunspots.
Here in NE Ohio we’re scheduled for F 60 degrees and rain on Thursday.
The Pineapple Express stretches across the continent.
You’ll notice the NASA/Goddard statement above doesn’t have a whisper
about climate change.

Reply to  R.S. Brown
January 12, 2017 2:05 pm

Essex floods in a few hours . . . . maybe.
The Army is in, sandbags deployed.
Not a good start to the New Year in Mrs. May’s fiefdom.

January 11, 2017 3:01 pm

This spring the grass and brush will grow like crazy. By mid-summer they will be tall, extensive and dry. Fires will be described in news stories as “unprecedented,” “catastrophic” and/or the (current) “new normal.” Of course, it will all be the fault of… Climate Change.

Reply to  Windsong
January 11, 2017 3:45 pm


Gunga Din
January 11, 2017 3:04 pm

The ‘Pineapple Express’ delivers heavy rains, flooding to California

So this has happened long ago enough often enough for the cyclic event to have a name.
Not pleasant for those experiencing it, but hardly a Man-made “new normal”.
(Any bets on how long before TWC and the MSM drop the phrase “Pineapple Express” from their coverage of such events?)

January 11, 2017 3:47 pm

There has been a persistent high pressure area over BC and Northern Washington that is pushing the “Maui Monsoon” ( I like that one) South as many of you have said it is a cycle. One thing it means that the snow pack in BC is a little below normal at this time of the year. As soon as this high breaks down later this month things will return to “normal” and we in BC and Washington can expect a return to winter storms along the coast and an inland rise of the snowpack.( Currently we are in Southern Interior of BC at ~ -10 to -15 C and have 22 cm snow on the ground).

Monna Manhas
Reply to  asybot
January 11, 2017 5:36 pm

asybot, where are you? I’m in Kamloops, and we have much more snow than usual, even with the cold (-18C at noon today).

Reply to  Monna Manhas
January 11, 2017 8:41 pm

Monna, We are in Winfield but on the Okanagan Lake. Huge differences because of the lake. Our station was -14 but Kelowna Airport -22 (only 11 miles away). We also have a bit of a “snow shadow” and seem to get less than areas just a few miles away. This year a little more than usual and since Dec 9 snow on the ground and there were only 3 days above freezing ( + 8 for 6 hrs one night, a crazy anomaly and a bad wind storm).

john harmsworth
Reply to  asybot
January 12, 2017 10:47 am

It is winter everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, I live in Saskatchewan where it is -31C this morning and -47C with the windchill. Last week in Siberia it was -66C. Along with the cold it is pretty snowy. Perhaps the great climate wheel has come around. The Earth doesn’t seem to be very good at holding onto heat, even with the supposed assistance of CO2. What a load of baloney. All about a few hundredths of a degree compared to an unknown past. I’m in the middle of “The Hockey Stick Illusion”. Mann’s crap was not science!

Reply to  john harmsworth
January 12, 2017 2:15 pm

john h
Was Mann’s carp even flatulence?
Just mildly enquiring.
PS – I hold a (small) fraction of a Nobel Prize for whatever the EU got awarded one, whenever, as I was a citizen [Did I say a ‘Willing Citizen’? I think not.].
So obviously I have credibility. Obviously.

January 11, 2017 4:03 pm

California went from drought conditions to dumping excess water into the ocean in under a year. We have enough water we just don’t manage it properly.

January 11, 2017 4:19 pm

I did not read about all the dams California is building to use these rains?

Reply to  littleoil
January 11, 2017 4:29 pm

They’re not allowed thanks to Gender21.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Max Photon
January 11, 2017 4:43 pm

Glad to see you back, Max!

Reply to  Max Photon
January 11, 2017 7:29 pm

Thanks 🙂

old construction worker
Reply to  littleoil
January 11, 2017 5:12 pm

“They’re not allowed thanks to Gender21.” Max, I think you mean Agenda 21, then again, it could be a gender thing.

Reg Nelson
Reply to  littleoil
January 11, 2017 6:06 pm

The Progressives want to tear down dams not build them. They’re pushing for the Hetch Hetchy dam, a major source of both electricity and water for the Bay Area, to be demolished.

Reply to  Reg Nelson
January 11, 2017 6:27 pm

And they want to destroy Hetch Hetchy with little understanding of what a magnificent system it is.

Reply to  Reg Nelson
January 12, 2017 2:17 pm

‘Little to No’ understanding . . .
Trust that helps.

Bill Illis
January 11, 2017 4:32 pm

It is interesting that the expected El Nino rains (should have happened from Jan to Mar 2016) did not pan out at all (and I was one those saying it was coming). But here we are now, 1 year later and a mild La Nina is underway and the rains are coming in even heavier than anything expected in an El Nino.
GFS is forecasting that the entire west coast up to northern BC still has 5 to 10 inches of rain coming in the next two weeks. That is a LOT.
After that, the drought will certainly be over and there will be a big mess to clean up.

Reply to  Bill Illis
January 11, 2017 8:46 pm

Bill Illis, as far as I can tell we in BC will be protected from heavy rain or snow at least until this high breaks down the forecast for that is late January when the “Pineapple Express” will be back hitting us instead of being pushed south as it is right now.

Bill Illis
Reply to  Bill Illis
January 12, 2017 3:50 am

Doesn’t look like it asybot. Coastal is getting a ton. Interior not so much. Batten down the hatches.

Reply to  Bill Illis
January 12, 2017 11:49 am

Bill, I use this interactive site, pretty decent, yes there is precip coming but not in great amounts till jan 22 for the interior coastal and mountains more as usual.

January 11, 2017 4:36 pm

I’d like to send them a snowball clipper. Damn, it’s been cold again.

Pop Piasa
January 11, 2017 4:39 pm

Forgive me if this is old and cheesy, but this presents the idea that it never rains in S.C., it pours.

Reply to  Pop Piasa
January 11, 2017 6:42 pm

Thanks, +1

old construction worker
January 11, 2017 5:29 pm

Having lived in Leadville, Co back in the 80’s I remember Tahoe got 12′ of snow from one storm. That spring we had mud slides in the Vail area.

January 11, 2017 5:59 pm

Okay all you geniuses who keep carping on about more dams for California, first, please say where it is you want to put them. Only one location has been surveyed and planned that is of any consequence, but it was never built. The Auburn Dam. And good luck getting any other potential sites approved. Second, if you could build more dams, how do you plan to save 100% of the flow of early season flooding, such as we are seeing now? I’ll give you the answer…you can’t. Every multiuse dam is used temper the flow of water and save the folks downstream from uncontrolled flows.
In 1997, at the peak of the PE storms, Oroville dam was receiving flows in excess of 300,000 CFS (8500 CMS) and releasing 180,000 CFS (5000 CMS). They could have filled a bone dry reservoir in seven days, but the reservoirs aren’t bone dry. They’re typically held at something over 50% in case the rain doesn’t show up. So cut that time to 3.5 days to reach uncontrolled spill and a full reservoir to serve up electricity and water to the communities down stream that no longer would exist because of truly devastating flood.
For some reading about the realities of flooding in California and the 1997 flood in particular try this. file:///Users/paulbhull/Documents/Science/Floods/CNRFC%20-%20Storm%20Summaries%20-%20December%2026,%201996%20-%20January%203,%201997.webarchive
Or this, by the man in charge of flood control in 1997.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  McComberBoy
January 11, 2017 6:27 pm

In addition, the benefits to costs often do not justify a new dam (and many of the old ones either).
In most cases a lesser cost approach would be to buy the properties downstream and allow a return to natural conditions. Cities ought not be allowed to destroy far away places. See:

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  McComberBoy
January 11, 2017 6:34 pm

“…Okay all you geniuses who keep carping on about more dams for California, first, please say where it is you want to put them…”
Just downstream of properties owned by folks like Al Gore, Barbara Streisand, etc.

Reply to  Michael Jankowski
January 11, 2017 6:38 pm

Put them where CA gets the most annual rainfall ie. northwest CA…

Reply to  Michael Jankowski
January 11, 2017 6:48 pm

Here’s the average precipitation map for CA:

Reply to  McComberBoy
January 11, 2017 7:02 pm

McComberBoy commented: “…Okay all you geniuses who keep carping on about more dams for California…”
You don’t need to be a genius to understand if you require more water storage you need a reservoir. There are many places reservoirs could be added. The rest is politics. Either manage the problem or go home.

Gunga Din
Reply to  markl
January 12, 2017 2:01 pm

And a reservoir for water supply doesn’t always require a dam be built across a valley.
Upground reservoirs can be built. When rain is plentiful, water is pumped from a stream to fill it. When rain is not plentiful, water is released back into the stream to supply the downstream demand.
(But I suspect that most of the problems encountered with building dams in California have to deal with property cost and, most likely, endangering the potential habit of some critter that hasn’t actually been spotted in the area in a hundred years or more.8-)

Reply to  McComberBoy
January 11, 2017 7:55 pm

The real genius is the governor who gripes that Californians are using much more water than was projected 20 years ago while forgetting he’s welcomed over 10 million water-consuming illegals because they support his party.

Reply to  harkin1
January 11, 2017 8:04 pm

+1 And they are financially supported to come!

James at 48
Reply to  McComberBoy
January 12, 2017 6:29 pm

We’d need to get creative and at no small expense. We’d need to create massive lowland holding basins as well as max out the perc-ground water mechanisms. There would have to be massive use of eminent domain. Lots of construction of encirclement levees. Yes it could be done of money were no object, there were no NIMBYs, no EIRs, and we didn’t have to worry about mosquitoes.

January 11, 2017 6:33 pm

I’ve lived here 55 years and its business as usual. Sometimes it rains like crazy and you string a few of those wet storms together and you get floods. Shocking.
Slap a bow tie on to look nerdy as possible and babble vaguely scientific crap and, viola!

Gary Pearse
January 11, 2017 7:16 pm

I’ve remarked previously on building recharge ponds with gates to split water as available to service down stream needs as required. They would be bedded with filtration sands and located to take advantage of permeable formations communicating with aquifers.
What is so politically contentious about storing water when it is intermittentently abundant. Why can’t the opposition sell the idea of this and other storage types? It’s also a flood control and fire control mechanism built into one. I guess their is no opposition or the swamp is even deeper than in Washington DC.

January 11, 2017 7:35 pm

Where I lived the National Resource Defense Council sued our central California water district to keep it from dredging behind our dam that is 90% silted in. Fresh water is already spilling over spillways of the dams in many areas and it’s only the second week of January.

January 11, 2017 7:42 pm

The usual atmospheric river (AR) runs quite a distance north. Seattle grumbles about their 40+ inches of rain, but they are at the southern end of the normal AR. As you move up the west coast you have Port Renfrew (138 in) and Gold River (112 in). Further North you get to Prince Rupert with 120 inches. Those of us in the Ketchikan area feel like we are usually in the deepest part of the atmospheric river. We quit talking about inches and began using feet of rainfall. Usually we are in the 12 to 14 feet of rain each year. There was that one year where we almost got to 18 feet.
We are having a dry spell. That is supposed to end this weekend. So I guess relief is on its way to California.

Reply to  Haverwilde
January 11, 2017 8:50 pm

Haverwild , you’re right as soon as this High pressure area breaks down it will be back to normal, thanks for your stats.!

Reply to  asybot
January 11, 2017 9:02 pm

Oops, Haverwilde, sorry.( Man 18 feet ! Was there ever a DRY day?)

Reply to  asybot
January 12, 2017 10:59 am

With the rain this weekend we should lose the ice.
Yes we have dry years, record for least rain was 1995, just a little over 7 feet that year.
We tend to exaggerate on occasion, average rainfall is 12 feet according to one source, 13 from another. So we split the difference and make 14 feet. 🙂 Do I have a future as a climate scientist, or what?

Reply to  asybot
January 12, 2017 12:21 pm

You fit right in 😉 ( 7 feet how do even live in that? I left western Europe in the 70’s because I hated rain, glad I moved to an semi arid area our average is ~11 inches!) When you look at the shape and the geological formations of Alaska and Northern BC they are just right to catch every bit of moisture coming of the Pacific, we live in the rain shadow of the Coastal Mountains very similar to all the arid areas in California and Washington etc.

January 11, 2017 8:41 pm

The Cal governor has the authority to make and rescind drought declarations.
Keep in mind California is a revenue challenged state due to its massive underfunded state pensions and shaky debt-ridden finances.
Now everything about Cal’s governments from Sacramento down to the local water-utility district is extremely concerned about maintaining revenue flows. Revenue flows are needed to send payments to the unholy beast – CalPERS.
Moonbeam’s drought declaration over the past 3 years allows water utilities to exact punitive water rate measures against customers. Those punitive water rates have generated substantial upper end revenues for entities like la-la land’s municiple water district.
Further, drought declarations give more power to beaurecrats over the people.
Does anyone really think Cal’s watermelon pols are going to allow Moonbeam to declare the drought over?

High Treason
January 11, 2017 9:58 pm

The same thing in Australia. February 11th marks the 10th anniversary of Tim Flannery’s famous “even the rains that fall will not be enough to swell the river systems and dams.” Our dams have managed to fill a few times since then. We have wasted billions since on desalination plants and their upkeep. It is all pure scaremongering to deceive us of our freedoms and money.
Looks like California’s drought was not permanent after all, just like Australia’s droughts. Droughts do not last forever-the rains will return, typically with a vengeance, as has been the case from time immemorial. Just look at the line from one of Australia’s most loved songs “…of droughts and flooding rain” written over 100 years ago.
Time to wake up- all the climate alarmism is scaremongering with a truly insidious hidden agenda.

January 11, 2017 10:06 pm

Really came to comment on the 1983 “atmospheric river”/pinapple express in comparison to the heading image. It was early in the satellite image era, but I vividly remember watching on my then retro black and white TV, having hoisted every valuable tool I could lift on to saw horses, and squished through the soggy carpet; a very different animal.
The headline image is a classic “comma” storm. A jolly good one to be sure, but pretty much the seventies norm for a major storm.
There was no comma in 1983. There was a huge trough, much like yesterday’s, but the ridge to the south was much better developed. These two Godzilla’s produced a very thin band of precipitation extending from Indonesia through Hawaii (for Norcal) that produced rain equal to the heaviest non shower rain yesterday for three days.
The trough slowly prevailed and drove the band saw south. As we ripped our carpets out in Novato under clear skies, they were building a plywood extension atop Glen Canyon Dam. We were hours away from losing Lake Powell…

January 11, 2017 10:18 pm

It is interesting to visit the water management page for Shasta Lake in California. Comparing inflow, outflow, and elevation makes El Niño years stand out. The current inflow (01-10-2017) is 7th highest since 1997.

Donald Kasper
January 11, 2017 10:40 pm

We do not have long, multi-year droughts in Southern California. We have desert that is peppered every 8 to 10 years with major rainfall events. This so-called 200 year long, unprecedented megadrought was what, 6 years? Well, it was 10 years long before that. Before the 1998 El Nino, about 10 years of not a drop. Now, you go to the Southern California Flood Control District discharge records of say San Gabriel flood control dam, which drains Angeles National Forest so is not apparently affected by urbanization, and from 1933 to 1969 El Nino it was hard to find a drop being discharged by that dam. The west years since 1969 are 3 times the rainfall prior to that. 1969 El Nino discharge from that dam not seen since records started in 1933.

Juan Slayton
Reply to  Donald Kasper
January 11, 2017 11:54 pm

Hi Donald,
We live directly downstream from the San Gabriel dam. (Well, Morris Dam intervenes, but San Gabriel is the next one up.) I’d be interested to know how you get access to the discharge records of which you speak. I have to question the report from the 1930’s. The historic flood of 1938 is well documented:
…on the night of March 2–3, 1938 a flood of 150,000 cu ft/s…poured out of the mountains and into San Gabriel Reservoir. San Gabriel Dam was able to knock about 40,000 cu ft/s,,,off the peak of the flood. Further downstream, Morris Reservoir was able to absorb roughly 30,000 cu ft/s, reducing the flood to less than half of what it would have been if not for the dams.
I believe the water was over the spillway at one (maybe both) of these dams. Even with the dams, the flood took out the western span of El Puente Largo, downstream in Azusa.
All of this is perfectly consistent with your description of S. Cal as a desert with intermittent rainy seasons. And we’re having a good week. : > )

Richard G
Reply to  Juan Slayton
January 13, 2017 9:27 pm

After the 1938 flood they began turning every creek, stream and river into a concrete channel and had completed the work by 1980. When the record 1982/1983 rainfall season hit, the destruction was much less severe than 1983, even though there was more development.

John MacDonald
January 11, 2017 11:00 pm

The Pineapple Express is delivering well for us here in Mariposa. My new Acurite weather station has measured over 14 inches for January so far. And 28 for the season. Amazing, considering last year was normal at 36 inches and the year before was 18 inches.
Thankfully, except for a couple of short power outages during some T-storms, we are not seeing flooding or high winds.
I’ve closely watched the radar the past two weeks, and the “river” seems to have been pointed right at us the whole time.
Anybody got a spare $5 billion so I can build a dam to store all this liquid gold?

Ore-gonE Left
January 12, 2017 12:40 am

Save your water-storage money. No need to build new reservoirs, according to genius Gov. Brown. The Bullet Train will solve everything. If that doesn’t work, spend the money on California’s own satellites. Now that is wise planning for the future. /sarc

Joe Ebeni
January 12, 2017 1:32 am

In 1916 the professionals at the United States Geological Survey and the National Weather Service did not need neat names like “Pineapple Exprss” and “Atmospheric River”. They studied the January rains that devastated much of Southern California, especially San Diego, and cited “Storms” and “Lows” that originated near Hawaii.

Reply to  Joe Ebeni
January 12, 2017 3:32 am

Naming certain types of weather goes back centuries and is world-wide. Sirocco winds, ahmal winds, monsoons, Santa Ana…. people named winds and certain types of weather long before there was politically-correct idiocy.

Ryan Green
January 12, 2017 5:47 am
January 12, 2017 6:46 am

California always hogs the press with cries of doom and over-acted panic. Oregon is in a declared state of emergency but no one here is having any crying jags or beating a path to major network news because it just isn’t that big of a deal. We need to re-allocate state services. So we just do it without knashing our teeth in full view of whoever has media credentials.

January 12, 2017 7:05 am

I was in Yosemite Valley on Jan. 1, 1997. That December had been a big snow month, but the Pineapple Express washed it all down, with an 8500-9000 foot snow level.
For us, we were luckily, I had to work on the 2nd so we left fairly early that morning. We had been watching flooding in Oregon and Northern California on the TV while we ate pizza in the Camp Curry cafeteria before we went to bed not having any idea we were next.
There was quite a bit of snow on the ground still when we retired, but there was no snow, but 4 inches of water in the parking lot when we left. It had been raining heavily all night long, and there were waterfalls everywhere, Glacier Point above us had an almost continuous width stream of water falling from it. We stopped at Yosemite Falls on our way out, it was huge and loud, and I took some pictures before we left.
We had to ford a couple of streams that were flowing 4 to 6 inches deep and 10 to 20 feet wide, the water had overflowed the culverts going under the road that routed the normally tiny creeks. Good thing we were in my lifted F150! We made it out about an hour before the roads were closed, saving us an unwanted extra 3 day stay in one of 3 stranded areas in the valley.
This year they took precautions and closed the valley to non-essential park personnel.

Randall Harris
January 12, 2017 7:47 am

Question: Is the Pineapple Express (Maui Monsoon) associated with either the La Nina or the El Nino conditions? Just curious. Thanks

Reply to  Randall Harris
January 12, 2017 2:29 pm

Almost all of the biggest storms to hit California/PNW occur during negative ENSO conditions, and close to or at the solar minimum.

January 12, 2017 7:48 am

If the Pineapple Express starts in Hawaii and finishes in California it is just a localised weather event in the USA.

Caligula Jones
Reply to  Mjw
January 12, 2017 9:57 am

Good point, this.
Much like the warmunists who want to say that the Medieval Warming Period was only local, then re-define local to mean pretty much the whole planet.

Reply to  Mjw
January 12, 2017 3:00 pm

The storm continues on eastward into the heart of the US. Take a look at Colorado and points east. …

Svend Ferdinandsen
January 12, 2017 1:21 pm

Be carefull with what you wish, you might get it.

James at 48
January 12, 2017 6:38 pm

The meridionality is there. This is negative PDO and negative ENSO. The thing is, the arctic troughs are reaching very far equatorward. These components in the time series are pushing the mean “climate bands” equatorward. Wait … it was not supposed to do that … we’ll never see snow again … Alta California will turn into Baja California. Yeah, I know, weather not climate. But these time series components are tweaking the climate just a little bit and not in the poleward climate zone direction.

Johann Wundersamer
January 19, 2017 7:30 am


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