Atmospheric river slams into the Pacific Northwest

You may have heard that an atmospheric river slammed into the Pacific Northwest over the weekend, causing widespread flooding. The disaster junkie in me wonders, are we ready in SoCal when one hits us?

The CIMSS Satellite Blog posted an animation of the event by "morphing" data from multiple satellites into a series of global images.

Thumbnail image for MIMIC_TPW_EPAC_latest72hrs_Ending1700_08dec2015.gif

The Remote Sensing Systems' Atmospheric River Watch gave the heads up before the event and I spent the weekend procrastinating by watching the event unfold.

The REMSS dynamic data viewer allows you to easily browse through 12 hours' worth of data from single satellites like this USAF satellite. Download single images like the one below, and you can animate a series of them.


CIMSS, funded by NASA among others, has a sophisticated suite of software to fuse satellite products such as atmospheric water vapor and cloud liquid content to produce total precipitable water (TPW) estimates.

If you would like to make your own animations of weather events, and have little to no experience with meteorological data, you may find the tutorial I put on the NCAR RDA blog helpful.

Let NOAA do the data ingest and regridding (with data from NASA, USAF and NOAA as well as our international partners), NASA handle the data visualization, and NCAR serve you the data. Come April 15, think of us.

Grace Peng works at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder and contributes to LA Observed.

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