“It was a dark and stormy night…”
~ English novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1830 novel Paul Clifford
I thought these words were Snoopy originals. Not so; they were written long before the clever little beagle became a twinkle in the eyes of Charles Shultz. Many nights of late could easily be described by the above quotation as storm after storm reached the California coastline. The explanation for and term given to the current weather pattern is an “atmospheric river.” Most of the major precipitation fell to the north of us, primarily in San Luis Obispo County. Concurrently the Sierras were blanketed by heavy snowfall. As of yesterday (Wednesday) in La Crescenta, at 1722 feet, the season rain total was 10.98 inches. Remember, the rain season begins July 1.
For most of us, the term “atmospheric river” is a new one, seemingly coming from out of the blue. I questioned it myself. Could it be the same thing and what we referred to, in past years, as the “pineapple express?” Maybe pineapple express is no longer considered politically correct! My curiosity led me on …
These were the findings: “Atmospheric river” is a common phrase used for decades in the world of meteorology. Most often it is used in explanation of West Coast weather conditions.
Our coastline is the recipient of low pressure systems which transport – like a river – massive plumes of water vapor and moisture. During the winter months they join up with cold Alaskan lows and ride into the state via the upper atmospheric jetstream. It seems a pineapple express is a type of atmospheric river, named so because the water-rich mass originates in Hawaii and takes direct aim at California.
As often happens, I veered off track slightly. Back to “dark … night.” Living in La Crescenta means, for the most part, having dark skies at night. For many of us, including the local wildlife, we like it just fine. Night is a time to sleep, look out at the stars or look for food. Scientific studies conclude animals (including humans) need dark. Many in our community do not want to be “left in the dark.” Personally, give me a dark night. Add a side of stormy weather, as well.
Another, but colder, rainstorm is expected today. Clear mild weather returns for the weekend and into next week. Looking ahead, late next week’s forecast includes a substantial rain- producing storm.
Don’t even bother to put your umbrella away!
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.