Cliff Notes on the News

Cliff Notes on the News

Veteran San Diego news director and reporter Cliff Albert shares his thoughts on the latest news and stories each weekday at 12 noon.Full Bio


What California's Atmospheric Rivers Are All About

Waking up to the news today gives you a real feel for why the weather is the big news in California.

The headline in the San Diego Union Tribune this morning reads: State Battered by 11th Atmospheric River Storm”. The headline on Axios today reads: “Latest Atmospheric River Brings Catastrophic Flood Risk to California.

The news in our state lately and right now is all about the atmospheric rivers. So you might be wondering what an atmospheric river is.

The meteorologists describe it as a long narrow ribbon of moisture that carries water vapor from the tropics. The term Pineapple Express used to be how it was commonly described. The term atmospheric river debuted in the 1990s and caught on because of the amount of water these ribbons can contain.

How bad are things? The National Weather Service issued what they call a "high risk" excessive rainfall outlook, the highest on its scale and a relatively rare designation.

A researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at U-C San Diego says a series of these atmospheric rivers like we’ve had in California cause a “cascading chain of impacts.” And all the cascading leads to flooding in some areas of the state.

While some may argue about climate change, there certainly is no doubt that the news in California is all about the weather changes this winter that are making it to be one of the worst on record.

(Photo Getty Images)

Photo: Getty Images

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