Atmospheric River Hits the West Coast


Record breaking storms that started off hitting up north on Dec. 31, 2022 continues to make its way down to Orange County through the winter.

After excessive amounts of burning fossil fuels pollute the atmosphere, heat begins to trap more moisture in the upper-level ridge. As a result of this climate change, intense storms called an atmospheric river plunge across the West Coast.

“An average atmospheric river instantaneously carries two to three times what the Amazon River typically carries,” Alexander Gershunov, a research meteorologist, said.

The most prominent areas affected by these storms are costal cities, specifically beginning with San Francisco and Santa Cruz. The high amounts of wind and rain destroyed thousands of homes and left millions of people without power.

“Now modest precipitation can have equal or greater impact in terms of conditions on the ground,” Governor Gavin Newsom said. “These conditions are serious and they are deadly.”

Consequently, the storms have not only left people homeless, but also injured or even killed. Reports say that 22 people have died across California so far, and drowning by floods caused majority of those deaths.

According to a 2014 study by Dr. Edward Rapport, deputy director of the National Hurricane Center, “Water is the number one killer during a hurricane or tropical storm that strikes the U.S. – comprising nearly 90% of all tropical cyclone deaths.”

As California faces extreme conditions, President Joe Biden recently approved an emergency declaration for the state. In doing so, it allowed Newsom to further reinforce the order.

“Our message to Californians is simple: be hyper-vigilant,” Newsom said. “There are still several days of severe winter weather ahead and we need all Californians to be alert and heed the advice of emergency officials.”