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Atmospheric rivers behind floods in California

by Afonso
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A strong and long-lasting atmospheric river or atmospheric river has entered the California state of America since last Sunday. Due to this, continuous rains and heavy snowfall have started there. In this situation, it is feared that severe floods and landslides may occur in the coast and some cities of the state.

According to a CNN report, more than 80,000 people have already lost power in California due to rain and snow caused by atmospheric rivers. Along with strong winds and rain, power outages are increasing in coastal areas. Winds 40 to 60 miles per hour. Wind gusts of up to 95 miles per hour can sometimes occur in mountainous areas. It is feared that about 30 million people in the region from Redding to San Diego may suffer in various degrees.

The San Francisco Weather Bureau predicted on Sunday that the wind speed in these areas could increase to hurricane level in a few days. No other atmospheric river has ever predicted anything like this before.

Atmospheric rivers have brought additional rain to Los Angeles, Santa Barbara in Southern California and Oxnard since Sunday. A maximum warning of category four rains has been issued on this day. These areas could be inundated with 3 to 6 inches of water per hour due to excessive rain, the warning said.

In this situation, the Meteorological Office fears that severe floods, mudslides and landslides may occur in the concerned areas. A Category 3 warning for heavy rain has been issued for most of the California coast and San Francisco.

What are atmospheric rivers?

What is this atmospheric river? When a large amount of water vapor accumulates in the atmosphere of a region, it is called an atmospheric river. Exactly how much water vapor must there be? In response, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States states that although the size and strength of this atmospheric river varies, in general, if the atmosphere of a region has water vapor equal to or greater than the average flow of water at the entrance of the Mississippi, it is called an atmospheric river. This is the situation in California. Such atmospheric river effects can cause heavy rain and snow in the affected areas, which is what California is witnessing now.

In some regions of the atmosphere, during special weather conditions, moisture condenses to form large groups or clusters like clouds. Although it looks like a cloud, it is not really a cloud. Clouds are very small and thin in size. Atmospheric rivers on the other hand are much thicker. The length and breadth are much greater than the cloud masses.

Atmospheric rivers can be compared to moving glaciers. As storms rise in rivers, so storms rise in rivers of the atmosphere. When there is a storm, it turns into rain and pours in torrents. Heavy snowfall occurs.

Rain and snow depend on the size of atmospheric rivers. The atmospheric river that entered California on Sunday is expected to dump nearly a month’s worth of rain over the central and southern parts of the state over the next few days.

According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, each atmospheric river is typically 250 to 375 miles wide. Sometimes more than a thousand miles in length. These atmospheric rivers are the source of 30 to 50 percent of America’s total annual precipitation.


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