(KTXL) — Since late December, California has been hit with several atmospheric rivers that have brought copious amounts of rain and snow to the state, increasing the state’s snowpack and at the same time causing potentially hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage due to flooding, rockslides and mudslides.
A spokesperson from the National Weather Service told FOX40 News that, since December, California has been hit by 14 atmospheric rivers, with a chunk of these in a series starting at the end of December and continuing to mid-January.
While there were winter storms in February, California did not see any new atmospheric rivers until it was hit by two in March.
The NWS spokesperson also said that, while 14 atmospheric rivers have made direct hits to California, two of them were relatively weak.
The weather service also said that it has observed 29 atmospheric rivers hitting the state since the water year began in October 2022, but the majority of these were smaller and weaker.
Atmospheric rivers are large bodies of moisture that form over the oceans, carrying enormous amounts of water that are dropped when the storm system hits land.
The continuous atmospheric rivers have brought higher-than-average amounts of rain to most of the state, resulting in high water levels in lakes, rivers and other waterways, and up to several dozen feet of snow in the mountainous regions.
While greatly improving the state’s snowpack and eradicating signs of a drought, the atmospheric rivers have also resulted in damage to homes and infrastructure and have been implicated in several deaths across the state.
While the state attempts to recover from the flooding and downed trees, more atmospheric rivers are expected to hit the state in the second half of March.
The rain and snow are normally a welcome sight in the drought-hit state, but back-to-back atmospheric rivers can be as troublesome as they are beneficial, since the water from a first storm does not have time to move or soak into the ground before a new storm drops more.