As a part of an organization that studies disaster response and how to make it better, I believe that atmospheric rivers can cause some of the most disastrous flooding events imaginable. Couple that with record snowfall and a spring thaw, and the events that follow will be epic.
So, What is an atmospheric river?
Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow bands of moisture in the atmosphere that can transport vast amounts of water vapor. These rivers are most common during the winter months and can bring heavy rainfall to areas that are not accustomed to such precipitation. When an atmospheric river encounters a mountain range, the moisture is lifted, and the resulting orographic precipitation can lead to significant flooding.
Atmospheric rivers can be responsible for some of the most destructive flooding events in history. The 2017 Oroville Dam crisis in California, which forced the evacuation of over 180,000 people, was caused by an atmospheric river. The 2018 Kauai floods in Hawaii, which resulted in over $100 million in damages, were also caused by an atmospheric river.
The impacts of atmospheric rivers can be severe and long-lasting. In addition to causing flash floods and landslides, atmospheric rivers can lead to water contamination, damage to infrastructure, and disruption of transportation and commerce. They can also cause significant economic losses, as businesses are forced to shut down, and communities struggle to rebuild.
Here in 2023, this looks to be even more significant and the damage, well, we just do not know what it will be yet.
Emergency Managers are well aware of the threat they face. They have to get thier populations ready. Then, it is up to those people to take action, one of those actions will be to download the D911 Disaster App
To mitigate the impacts of atmospheric rivers, it is essential to improve forecasting and warning systems. Our experts do the best they can with what we have in place, even so, the pursuit of better should never stop. This includes improving weather models to predict the timing and location of atmospheric rivers, as well as developing more sophisticated flood mapping and monitoring tools. It is also important to have emergency response plans in place that can be activated quickly in the event of a flooding event. This is something we individuals will benefit from making a priority of our lives.
Overall, atmospheric rivers can cause disastrous flooding, and it is crucial to understand their nature and potential impacts. By improving forecasting and warning systems and having emergency response plans in place, we can help to mitigate the impact of these extreme weather events and protect our communities from harm.