A microwave satellite image taken around noon today shows the first (and weakest) atmospheric river of the three. This graphic shows the total amount of water vapor in the column, or more exactly what depth of precipitation it could form. Atmospheric rivers are narrow but long currents of moisture and warmth, with roots in the tropics and subtropics.
The forecast for 1 AM tonight shows this moisture plume reaching the Northwest coast.
The second, and far stronger atmospheric river, is apparent on Friday at 10 AM. The blue values are very large. This system will bring very heavy rain to northern California. Why does the moisture plume end quickly at the coast? Because much of the moisture is forced to condense out by regional mountains.
And then a third atmospheric river, and a very broad one at that, is seen early Sunday.
The model forecasts are quite stable for the heavy rain; here is the WRF forecast the next 72 hours. Amazing totals over California, reaching over 10 inches. The Washington mountains get nearly as much!
But the rain does not stop there. Below is the next 72 hour. A bit less, still heavy
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.