Risks and Rewards: Tropical Transport Mechanism Targets So California

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 20 March 2018


March 2018
Risks and Rewards

Tropical Transport Mechanism Targets So California

Pineapple Express deluge in Southern California; high risk of Thomas Fire flash floods & mudslides,
Weather West, March 19, 2018.

"The strongest storm of the year (and perhaps longer) for southern California is rapidly developing over the Eastern Pacific west of California. This system already has a visually spectacular presentation on satellite imagery, and is exhibiting almost textbook structure for an atmospheric river of the “Pineapple Express”..."

All Satellites

"...if it shifts northward, the Thomas Fire burn scar will be at less risk; but if a stall occurs near Santa Barbara–as currently appears possible–then watch out. Right now, it’s not possible to distinguish between these scenarios."

"... the inbound atmospheric river may be among the strongest (or perhaps *the* strongest) on record for the months of March or April in Southern California. With water vapor fluxes of this magnitude, it is possible that the models are actually underestimating the precipitation potential with this event (and they’re spitting out some huge totals for much of SoCal already)."

"...Notice I said “rain” and not “snow:” with the very warm subtropical airmass, snow levels will be mostly above 7,000-8,000 feet and perhaps as high as 10,000 feet at times, especially in the south. This could act to melt a substantial portion of the lower elevation snowpack, with some local flood issues possible (widespread river flooding is unlikely given dry antecedent conditions)."

"It’s not all doom and gloom: the good news is that this storm will dump upwards of 5-7 inches of rain directly on top of the severe drought region in Southern California."

"... the Sierra Nevada snowpack has now recovered substantially from its record-low level in February. It’s still only 47% of average, but that number may continue to tick up in the coming days as new snow falls."


"Mechanics" of a Tropical Transport Mechanism




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High Sierra Weather March 2018 Pineapple Express Atmospheric River Tropical Transport Mechanism


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