Things may be looking up for Oregon and California: a very, very wet weather event is about to happen.
Let's look at the WRF model forecast for precipitation over the next 72h (starting 4 PM this afternoon). Fairly wet from the Bay Area to British Columbia, with a number of western slopes getting 2-5 inches. This is the warm up, or better described as the pre-soaking. Enough to get the river levels up, but with little or no flooding.
And then it gets serious, particularly in northern Californi, when a very strong atmospheric river hits the region. You see the white colors--that is 10-20 inches of rain. Expect flooding in northern California and a massive refilling of the critical...and large...northern reservoirs. This is the storm that may prevent water disaster this year.
For stage 1 of this event, a weak atmospheric river will aim for the Pacific Northwest (the color shading shows the water vapor content of the atmosphere).
but then the main course arrives and the most dramatic atmospheric river in over a year will strike northern California. Serious stuff. These atmospheric rivers are going to be warm, so very little snow south of the central Cascades. Sorry Oregon. The Sierra Nevada will get snow at higher elevations.
The origin of all this water fun is from a strong, warm, southwesterly wind current that will develop in the eastern Pacific. Here is the forecast map for 500 hPa (about 18,000 ft) on Friday at 8 AM. The winds are parallel to the height lines and winds are stronger when they are closer together. Trust me, this is a very wet pattern for the West Coast.
And did I mention the several strong Pacific cyclones that will approach are region during the period (like the one below, showing isobars--pressure--and wind speed--shaded)? I better not...
The Pacific Northwest Weather Workshop
Interested in attending the big local weather workshop of the region? The Pacific Northwest Weather Workshop will be held in Seattle at the NOAA facility on February 27-28th. Everyone is invited and the majority of talks are accessible to laypeople. To attend you have to register or they won't let you in the gate. There will be a major session on the Oso landslide. There is a registration fee that covers refreshments and food, and special student pricing. If interested, check out this website.
Climate Change and the Pacific Northwest
I will be giving a provocative talk on this subject on March 11th at 7:30 PM Kane Hall on the UW campus in Seattle. Sponsored by local public radio station KPLU, tickets for this event can be secured at this web site.