Three more atmospheric rivers headed into Sonoma County. What drives the storm train?

January is often the season for atmospheric rivers in California, however for the reason that New 12 months, Sonoma County has had an nearly steady collection of them — an uncommon incidence, which specialists attribute to the jet stream surging over the Pacific Ocean.

Three extra of those moisture-laden occasions have been actually described as rivers within the sky, being carried by winds towards the Golden State, in response to meteorologists, who anticipate extra storms to start Wednesday evening.

These storms will proceed via Jan. 20, stated Chad Hecht, a analysis and operations meteorologist on the College of California, San Diego’s Middle for Western Climate and Water Extremes.

Whereas the presence of rivers within the environment hardly raised alarms amongst climate forecasters, what stood out was that they happen in such speedy succession.

The Bay Space sometimes experiences a few dozen atmospheric rivers through the winter, in response to the Nationwide Climate Service’s Bay Space workplace in Monterey. However together with the 2 occasions that occurred after Christmas, the area — and Sonoma County specifically — has already been hit by a minimum of six of them.

“If I had my want, I want to publish it additional,” Hecht stated on Tuesday.

Atmospheric rivers are attributable to the build-up of moisture over hotter tropical areas. The latter, Hecht added, might have originated as distant as Guam.

They will develop as much as 375 miles extensive and stretch as much as 1,000 miles lengthy, in response to the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Winds push them via the environment, and the moisture they carry turns into rain or snow as soon as they’re over the bottom.

4 have pounded Sonoma County since Jan. 4, when rain and robust winds as much as 2 inches wreaked havoc throughout the realm, downing a tall redwood close to Occidental that landed on a cell residence and killed a 2-and-a-half-year-old boy.

A second atmospheric river developed Saturday and in addition dropped a minimum of 2 inches of rain on this space. On Sunday evening, a 3rd fell greater than 2 inches of rain in Sonoma County earlier than shifting into Southern California, the place it brought on important flooding close to Santa Barbara.

The river final appeared within the environment Monday evening, and by Tuesday night, it had fallen 1⅓ of an inch over Santa Rosa, in response to the Nationwide Climate Service.

Sarah McCorkle, a meteorologist within the Nationwide Climate Service’s Bay Space workplace, agreed that winds had been the dominant think about atmospheric wave ripples.

“That was not regular,” she stated.

The subsequent atmospheric river is predicted Wednesday and can convey as much as 3 inches of rain in Sonoma County via Thursday, in response to the Nationwide Climate Service.

One other 2 to three inches may fall over the weekend earlier than small quantities of rain develop early subsequent week.

Precipitation ranges are anticipated to drop as a result of subsequent week atmospheric rivers transfer south alongside the coast, McCorkle stated, earlier than turning east over land.

Hecht described atmospheric rivers as a “double-edged sword”.

“It can’t solely be harmful, but additionally useful as a result of it is without doubt one of the main meteorological phenomena that provides California with water,” he stated.

The U.S. Drought Monitor reveals Sonoma County nonetheless within the extreme drought class, and Hecht stated it is too early to say whether or not the realm has fallen out of the woods after these newest storms.

“So as to have a traditional water 12 months, you want greater than we have had within the final two weeks,” he stated.

You possibly can contact the writer, Colin Atagi, at on Twitter: @colin_atagi.

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