‘Atmospheric river’ hits western US with rain and snow, killing five

LOS ANGELES – As much of the eastern United States begins to assess damage from severe winter storms, parts of the west are experiencing another severe weather event. “Atmospheric rivers,” as forecasters say, are likely to bring many days of heavy rain and snow.

A system of deep, fast-moving storms, channels of atmospheric winds that carry water vapor from the tropics, already began hitting parts of northwestern California and Oregon on Tuesday, causing three storm surges including felled trees. Five people died in car accidents. , Oregon officials said.

The system was expected to continue throughout the week, resulting in excessive rainfall that could cause flash floods, landslides and debris flows, forecasters said.

Precipitation can occasionally be up to 1 inch (2.54 cm) per hour, according to William Churchill, a weather forecaster and meteorologist at the National Weather Service Weather Forecasting Center in College Park, Maryland. .

Atmospheric storms often occur in the West, but what makes this unusual is its expected strength and duration, he added.

“Generally, California can take advantage of most of this rainfall.

He added that the greatest risk would be previously burned areas along the coast, where rapid and prolonged rainfall could trigger landslides and debris flows.

As of Wednesday afternoon, about three to six inches of rain had fallen in the hardest-hit areas, Churchill said.

The storm system was expected to sweep the region between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada, as well as the central plains. Regions across the West Coast, as well as parts of Central and Southern California, had rain through early Wednesday.

Another system is expected on Thursday, resulting in more rain expected from the south of the Pacific Northwest to central California, adding that this “unstable weather pattern” is likely to continue into the weekend.

Nearly 5 million people in the greater Seattle and Portland, Oregon, metropolitan areas are on high wind warnings, with winds of up to 30 mph and gusts of up to 60 mph, Churchill said. … apparently …

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport recorded gusts of more than 50 mph on Tuesday, he added. “That’s the more damaging factor,” Churchill said of gusts.

In Portland, heavy rains flooded roads and rivers, and high winds knocked down trees and power lines, causing a loss of power. About 50,000 customers across Oregon were without power as of Wednesday afternoon, according to his, which tracks outages. More than 60,000 customers in California and Washington also lost power, according to the site. ‘Atmospheric river’ hits western US with rain and snow, killing five

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