Southern California has been bathing in a long overdue, above-average wet season. The current buzzwords are “atmospheric river.” Some of us remember when it was popular to call this phenomenon “the pineapple express” in the last century.
Rain or other forms of precipitation occur when a cold layer of air meets a warmer, moist layer of air and there is enough turbulence between the two to keep them from passing like ships in the night. A good dousing requires a confluence of all three elements.
For the last seven years, most of the cold impulses out of the Gulf of Alaska have met moisture-starved layers as frontal systems that have reached Southern California have traveled over land and produced little or no rain. This year, the subtropical jet has been fetching moisture over the ocean and there has been a vigorous mixing of the layers—especially when the lower layer is uplifted by mountainous terrain.
In a single 24-hour period this February, Big Bear Lake received 8.25 inches of precipitation as melted snow! That is a lot of juice. Our season total here in Fernwood now stands at 23.37 inches of rain. That is considerably more than all the surrounding areas. Woodland Hills has had 16.29 inches of rain; Santa Monica Pier has had 14.98 inches; and the Los Angeles Civic Center has received 15.68 inches. Most stations have already exceeded their averages for the entire season as we approach the halfway mark of the season that runs from October 1 to September 30.