California Is Reeling as ‘Rivers’ in Sky Morph From Blessing to Curse

January 15, 2023

“Atmospheric rivers are the primary means for delivering rain and snow to California,” said Jonathan Rutz, an atmospheric scientist at the University of California, San Diego. Swirling up deep in the tropical Pacific in what is also known as the “Pineapple Express,” atmospheric rivers carry enough water to match the Mississippi River’s flow at its mouth. The systems aren’t just confined to the West; atmospheric rivers carry water into the US Gulf Coast, South America, Greenland and even Antarctica. The scale will need to be adjusted to take into account the cumulative effects of multiple atmospheric rivers arriving over a short time, as is happening this year, Anderson said. “As hazardous as atmospheric rivers can be at times, without them, the water resources available to the West would be hugely reduced,” Rutz said.