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Report Breaks Down Data Surrounding Atmospheric Rivers on the West Coast

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A new report is looking back at the exceptionally wet year across the West Coast, confirming that it has indeed been a soggy time for this part of the country. Here is what the details of this report have indicated.

Understanding Atmospheric Rivers and Their Impacts

A summary from the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes (CW3E) at Scripps Institution of Oceanography confirmed that over 50 atmospheric rivers set up over the western portion of the U.S. in a time period from the fall of 2023 through the spring of 2024. This research agency based on the West Coast has tracked the data surrounding these atmospheric rivers since 2012, giving meteorologists information to determine trends.

An atmospheric river is defined as a long plume of moisture that can expand over thousands of miles. The moisture-rich system typically originates in the tropics or the subtropics before expanding into the higher latitudes above it. The atmospheric rivers across the West Coast typically get their start in the tropics of the Pacific Ocean.

At any given time, you can usually find four or five active atmospheric rivers flowing across the world. The energy associated with these plumes is able to move around a great amount of water at one time. While the water is in the form of vapor when it is traveling above the land, it can come in the form of rain or snow as it falls.

Although over 50 atmospheric rivers sounds like a lot for that time frame for the West Coast, it is actually fairly average when compared to historical data. Since the year 2012, CW3E has recorded an average of 48 to 49 atmospheric rivers each fall through the spring.

The bulk of the past year's atmospheric rivers impacted the Pacific Northwest. For instance, the data demonstrates that Oregon was in the bullseye for 46 of the 51 atmospheric river events.



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