Atmospheric Rivers behind deadly storms all around the globe
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Atmospheric Rivers behind deadly storms all around the globe

You will be astonished to know but yes, rivers exist in up in the sky, and they are the prime reason behind the majority of the extreme rainfall and snowfall in the western USA. Also known as “Atmospheric-river,” it is a very thin region of water vapors that flow along with the storms from tropics to the western USA.

Atmospheric rivers can create havoc and have potential to disrupt entire city. However, it can be a blessing in some cases — a similar thing happened when heavy rainfall ended the extreme drought in California this winter.

Duane Waliser, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, along with his team has studied storms around the globe for over two decades and found that atmospheric rivers are not only associated with the western USA, but they are responsible for 30 and even up to 50 percent of all extreme storms around the globe.

According to researchers from the NOAA, these atmospheric rivers can cause mudslides, damage roads, disrupt travel and can cause catastrophic damage to the region, but they have proven to be beneficial on many occasions.

“Not only atmospheric rivers come with this potential for flooding hazards, they also come with potential for high impact winds and extremes that can produce hazardous conditions,” said Waliser.

These extremely wet winds are known as “Pineapple Express” in Hawaii, and they can hold up to 15 times the water discharged by the Mississipi River from its mouth.

Atmospheric rivers move twice faster than the average storm, and this winter has witnessed most active atmospheric rivers in the Western America. Study authors have identified ten different such rivers. Northern California sees five to seven atmospheric rivers each season; however, researchers have warned that the count may increase this season.

The study appeared in the journal Nature Geoscience.