Saturday, November 05, 2005

Pineapple Express Coming?

This news from today’s Bee is not the news we wanted to hear so soon after New Orleans, and so soon after being reminded, once again, that Sacramento is the most susceptible city in America to major flooding, all because local public leadership is not reacting responsibly to this well-known fact by developing flood protection.

Warm storms may brew trouble
Conditions ripe for the flood-producing 'Pineapple Express.'
By Matt Weiser -- Bee Staff Writer Published 2:15 am PST Saturday, November 5, 2005

Weather forecasters say this winter will bring an increased likelihood for "Pineapple Express" storms, the pattern that poses the greatest danger to California's flood-control system.

This same pattern existed in January 1997, when a warm stretch of storms brought one of the state's worst floods. Massive river flows caused more than 30 levee breaks in the Central Valley, nine deaths, $2 billion in damages and the biggest evacuation effort in California history.

The Pineapple Express pattern is distinguished by a dramatically curving jet stream that sweeps past Alaska before dipping down to Hawaii and picking up gobs of moisture to hurl at the Golden State. It can bring up to two weeks of back-to-back storms, followed by a long dry period, repeating every 45 to 60 days.

In short, it is California's equivalent of hurricane season.

"In this case, the storm track is such that the possibility of a true Pineapple connection is increased," said Cindy Matthews, National Weather Service hydrologist. "We're more likely to have those setup conditions be in place."

The pattern is two times more likely to occur this year than in an average year, she said. There is no guarantee it will happen, but we could get our first taste very soon.

For the rest of the story: