Earth Scientists Will Study Extremes First Hand Next Week

November 29, 2012

I’ll be heading to San Francisco this weekend to once again attend the American Geophysical Union conference, where I’ve been asked to present (!?) on “Effective Use of Social Media in Communicating Climate Science”.

But the biggest story will be the unfolding extreme weather event that will give all attendees a reminder that, for climate change, we all have a front row seat.

Sac Bee:

The change comes Wednesday afternoon with what will amount to a “warmup” storm that should deliver 0.5 of an inch to about 1 inch to much of Northern California.

That system, Van Cleave said, should be brief, giving way on Thursday to a brief short drying on Thursday.

By late Thursday, that “atmospheric river” will be headed straight for the capital area and will bring strong southerly winds, he said.

The term of art – atmospheric river – tells the story: Van Cleave describes it as a “garden hose … focused right in our area.”

Meteorologist Paul Douglas has more:

I’m seeing some signs of a potentially historic storm for portions of the western USA between Friday and Wednesday of next week as a series of very moist storms push inland from the Pacific. I expect some flash flooding (and river flooding) for the San Francisco Bay Area, but the most severe flooding (and mountain snows) will take place from Marin county into the mountains of northern California and the Coastal/Cascade range of Oregon.

The ECMWF model, which seems to be doing the best job overall in this new weather-on-steroids environment, prints out some 16-20″ rainfall amounts over northern California and southern/western Oregon by Sunday; two surges: one Friday, a second front pushing in Sunday. WSI’s high-res RPM model confirms this as well, which increases my confidence level. The ECMWF model prints out 4-5” for San Francisco, but 8-10” for Marin county, just north of SFO.

Weather Underground:

Also, Flood Watches are posted for some rivers in Northern California. One of these rivers is the Navarro River, which currently has a stage of 2.9 feet. Here is what is impressive. The flood stage for the Navarro River at Navarro is 23.0 feet. That means that it is currently 20 FEET below flood stage, yet the NWS has determined that it is prudent to issue a Flood Watch for the river. Further, flood stage may be reached by Friday morning and the river could hit 26 feet by midday Friday. So between Thursday morning and Friday afternoon, the river is expected to rise as much as 23 feet. That is a tremendous amount of water.

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5 Responses to “Earth Scientists Will Study Extremes First Hand Next Week”

  1. rayduray Says:

    Years ago I was an avid whitewater kayak nut and I got a rare chance to boat on the headwaters of the Navarro River, a run called Rancheria Creek.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navarro_River

    Very similarly to the setup for this weekend we had several days of noachian downpour in the region and we put on the creek on the first dry day after the storm passed. This time of year, much of the California boating scene is in hiatus with the Sierra foothills being too cold to be much fun. So a pretty large percentage of Bay Area paddlers were on Rancheria Creek this day.

    As we were floating down we encountered some signs that the river had already come down some from the full flood. But turning one bend we all three in my party had to do a double take. We saw logs weighting up to 800 pounds or so about 50 feet above our heads stuck in the branched of overhanging trees. At first we thought “omigod, the river was that high?” without thinking how it could be. As we came around a second bend we discovered how. Half a mountainside had slide down into the river and formed a temporary dam which had apparently only given way hours before our passage. Other boaters and rafters were opting to get out of their craft, wisely considering that the river below that point was probably full of snags and sleepers ready to trap the unwary. Seeing them slog through the mud up to the middle of their thighs convinced my party to remain afloat, alert and ready to skirt any danger. Obviously we survived. But I’ll never forget the sight of that raw remaining hillside about 1,500 feet long and 300 feet high which had simply sluffed off enough mud and debris to back up the river to an elevation of 50 feet. Must have been a hell of surge when that gave way in the middle of the night. Would have made riding the Amazon tidal bore seem like a snore.

  2. rayduray Says:

    Here’s a nifty way to keep an eye on river flooding in California as the storms roll through. Things are already starting to pick up:

    http://www.dreamflows.com/flows.php?page=prod&zone=canv&form=norm&mark=All#California_North_Coast


  3. [...] of Southern Oregon.  In fact it was a swipe from the massive storm that was featured in a recent Climate Crocks article, from which one can [...]

  4. otter17 Says:

    What an honor to present at the AGU!


  5. [...] new and challenging ways.  I’m referring to the massive storm that was featured in a recent Climate Crocks article that delivered over a foot of rainfall in recent days.  Here in Southern Oregon we received over [...]


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