Bomb Cyclones and Atmospheric Rivers Hit California

The Golden State of California is facing serious weather recently with snow, mudslides, and flooding occurring everywhere. The main causes for all of these problems are the Pineapple Express, the atmospheric river, and the bomb cyclone. These have all caused major infrastructural damage to California with many roadways and buildings being destroyed. A reported 20 people have died and an estimated price of $1 billion is set for repairs. But this price will surely rise as it is predicted that more storms are coming toward California in the coming days.

Now, what is the storm and how is it going to affect California?

First, what are bomb cyclones, Pineapple Express, and atmospheric rivers? Well, bomb cyclones are low-pressure storms that intensify over a short amount of time. They are created when Earth’s air surfaces quickly into the atmosphere. Bomb cyclones are also known as bombogenesis. Bombogenesis is simply a meteorologist’s term to describe a storm’s rapid strengthening and pressure drops. Unlike most storms, a bomb cyclone gains its strength from its outer edges rather than the center. Bomb cyclones also help create atmospheric rivers. Atmospheric rivers, also called “rivers in the sky”, are streams in the atmosphere that carry large amounts of water and rain from the tropics to other places. Though these sound relatively harmless, atmospheric rivers can bring harsh winds, flooding, and mudslides to cities below. The atmospheric river is a factor that is important for bomb cyclones and the Pineapple Express. Though a silly name, the Pineapple Express, also called the “Hawaiian Storm” is a version of the atmospheric river. Due to its origin near Hawaii, the storm would flood the islands, often washing away their pineapples, so it was given this name. It follows the same characteristics of an atmospheric river, but it stops in the Western US while the atmospheric river extends further. The express brings snow and rainfall to where it lands.  

Starting around late December, California started to feel the effects of the storm ahead. Starting in the coastline of California, places like Monterrey, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco were hit by heavy rainfall and destruction. People have stocked up on sandbags, food, water, and other essentials to prepare for the storm. Even preparation wasn’t enough, as many have had to evacuate or be rescued from the storm’s wrath. As the storm moved throughout California, more harm was inflicted on the state, infrastructure was damaged due to floods, mudslides, and rockslides. The northern part of California received a heavy snow increase and power outages occurred all over. According to Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, 31 out of 58 counties in California have been labeled as “disaster areas”. Luckily people are now able to go outside, as clean-up and repairs for the storm have started.

California is finally clearing up as the storm has passed and moved on. Only a few days ago President Biden visited the rampaged areas of Santa Cruz. According to The New York Times, the extensive rain and flooding will likely not help California’s ongoing drought problems. For the people in California, they can look forward to a brighter and less wet future as the storm season has come to a close for the Golden State.