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Flooding on California's Russian River: Role of atmospheric rivers

January 1, 2006

Experimental observations collected during meteorological field studies conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration near the Russian River of coastal northern California are combined with SSM/I satellite observations offshore to examine the role of landfalling atmospheric rivers in the creation of flooding. While recent studies have documented the characteristics and importance of narrow regions of strong meridional water vapor transport over the eastern Pacific Ocean (recently referred to as atmospheric rivers), this study describes their impact when they strike the U.S. West Coast. A detailed case study is presented, along with an assessment of all 7 floods on the Russian River since the experimental data were first available in October 1997. In all 7 floods, atmospheric river conditions were present and caused heavy rainfall through orographic precipitation. Not only do atmospheric rivers play a crucial role in the global water budget, they can also lead to heavy coastal rainfall and flooding, and thus represent a key phenomenon linkingweather and climate. Copyright 2006 by the American Geophysical Union.

Publication Year 2006
Title Flooding on California's Russian River: Role of atmospheric rivers
DOI 10.1029/2006GL026689
Authors F.M. Ralph, P.J. Neiman, G.A. Wick, S.I. Gutman, M. D. Dettinger, D.R. Cayan, A.B. White
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geophysical Research Letters
Index ID 70028070
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization San Francisco Bay-Delta; Pacific Regional Director's Office