Weather Whiplash: US West Coast Likely To Get Drenched By Another Powerful Storm

Jan 5, 2023

What are Atmospheric Rivers?

Californians, already hit hard by recent floods and mudslides, may face another major storm system later this week. It could be worse than the record rainfalls that soaked the Bay Area and other areas over the weekend. 

The coming weather system is known as an atmospheric river storm. It would be the third of its kind to hit the area since December 26. High winds and heavy rainfall on New Year’s Eve knocked out power for tens of thousands of people. The water caused rockslides and mudslides. Rivers flooded. On December 31, San Francisco’s downtown recorded 546 inches of rain. The National Weather Service says it was the second-wettest day in more than 170 years.

At least one person died from the flooding. Crews rescued dozens of other people from cars stuck in floods.

Forecasters now warn that parts of the Russian River are at high risk of flooding again if the coming storm is as powerful as they think. The river gets water that runs off from counties in Northern California.

Atmospheric river storms are strong, narrow currents of wet air. They can carry a lot of water vapor. The storms usually travel thousands of miles, from tropical areas to higher altitudes. Most of the rainfall along the US West Coast in winter is from these types of storms.

One climate scientist told Axios that another bad storm could cause a huge problem. Cleanup and fallout from the storm could cost as much as $1 billion. "The stage is set for something … big to happen," the scientist said. 

Which detail from the infographic explains why this storm could cause “a huge problem” on the West Coast? (Common Core RI.5.7; RI.6.7)
a. An atmospheric river can result in a month’s worth of precipitation in a few days.
b. When an atmospheric river makes landfall, it will rise and condense into rain or snow.
c. An atmospheric river is about 1,600 km long and 640 km wide.
d. A and B
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