What California’s Atmospheric Rivers Mean for Drought, Floods, Fires

Sandbags protect a home from flooding. Photo via @CityofSanDiego Twitter

California has experienced an exceptionally wet winter with 11 atmospheric rivers battering the state since late December. A twelfth such storm is arrived on Tuesday, threatening to cause even more flooding, landslides and road closures.

Atmospheric rivers are vast airborne currents of dense moisture carried aloft for hundreds of miles from the Pacific and funneled over land to fall as bouts of heavy rain and snow. Here’s what such storms mean for the near and long term.