Atmospheric River

The wind is howling outside.

I don’t mean metaphorically: the air is moving sideways and upside down and inside out, twisting its way so noisily through the cracks in this over-100-year-old house I wonder if I will get to see Oz.

Freaky Friday indeed.

Last year in November we had a series of “atmospheric rivers” which resulted in Vancouver being cut off from the outside world as all the highways were closed by landslides and washouts. I was actually stuck outside of Vancouver for awhile, leading a 5-day tour that turned into a 13-day adventure, but that’s a story for another day.

Tonight, they’re calling for another atmospheric river. Yesterday was the first snow and today is the first atmospheric river of the season. Who says you can’t have new beginnings this late in the year?

I imagine the meteorologists have contests for naming new weather systems or perhaps they’re simply re-branding old ones to make them more appealing to younger audiences. Heat Dome. Polar Vortex. Weather Bomb. Snownado. Atmospheric River.

Atmospheric river sounds like the sky is water, which is basically true. Here’s how NOAA defines atmospheric rivers:

Atmospheric rivers are relatively long, narrow regions in the atmosphere – like rivers in the sky – that transport most of the water vapor outside of the tropics. These columns of vapor move with the weather, carrying an amount of water vapor roughly equivalent to the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River. When the atmospheric rivers make landfall, they often release this water vapor in the form of rain or snow.

-National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi… dumped on top of us.

I’m trying to imagine a situation in which an atmospheric river would be appealing. Perhaps if you could surf it, or kayak it, or float along it on a giant inflatable pegasus.

All I know is I’m glad I’m safely at home tonight staying warm by the fireplace and not behind the wheel of a tour bus. Stay safe everyone!

Header photo: Emiliano Arano / Pexels

Day 4 success! Click the pepper to visit my Nano Poblano team.

4 thoughts on “Atmospheric River

  1. Brrr…I could feel the cold reading this post! I never knew about atmospheric rivers, so this was interesting to learn. I live in the southeastern part of the U.S., so we get to deal with hurricanes. Fun!

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