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Pineapple Express

 

Image: NOAA

There are rivers in the sky called atmospheric rivers.

What causes an atmospheric river? Why is this band of moisture confined to a narrow strip, sometimes only a few hundred miles across? How does California’s topography influence an atmospheric river and contribute to rainfall and snowfall in the state?

 

Image: GOES-West, NASA

Look for the narrow band of clouds originating naer Hawaii (center left). Those clouds, filled with tropical moisture, travel to the coast of California as an atmospheric river. This weather phenomenon is nicknamed the Pineapple Express and is a contributor to the California water cycle. Occasionally, an atmospheric river reaches San Diego.

Resources

NOAA: What are atmospheric rivers?

NOAA: Atmospheric river portal

YouTube: GOES-West Satellite Sees Pineapple Express

NGSS & Grade

MS-ESS2, ESS2.C: The Roles of Water in Earth's Surface Processes

MS-ESS2, ESS2.D: Weather and Climate

Grade: 
6-8 MS
Discipline: 
Earth and Space Science