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ncdc.january.2005

ncdc.january.2005 - NCDC Climate of 2004 California Storms...

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NCDC: Climate of 2004: California Storms of January 2005 NCDC / Climate Monitoring / Climate of 2005 / California Storms / Search / Help Climate of 2004 Summary of the Storms in California and the West from December 2004-January 2005 National Climatic Data Center, Last updated - 21 January 2005 January 2005 Storms Overview / Storm Meteorology and Background / Records and Totals / Impacts of Storm Overview A series of storms in late December 2004 through mid-January 2005 affected areas from coastal California all the way to the east coast, with the major impacts from the Front Range westward. The damage in parts of the Southwest will run into the tens of millions of dollars. More than 20 people were killed in the combination of rain and snow that impacted an enormous region with record precipitation amounts. Moisture-laden storm systems began moving off the Pacific Ocean affecting southern California from December 27th through January 13th. The rain and snow triggered flooding and mudslides and disrupted travel for much of the region. Below is a synopsis of the conditions that produced this historic precipitation event, as well as some lists of rain and snow records and a preliminary description of the major impacts . Meteorology Larger image As can be seen in the animated image to the left, a spinning low pressure system moved onshore from the eastern Pacific on January 7th to impact California and finally as far as the east coast later the same week. This was the second consecutive week of major storms for California. The consistent track of these storms can be blamed on a feature of the climate system colloquially known as the 'Pineapple Express'. This refers to a sub-tropical jet stream that brings moisture-laden air directly from the tropics, over the Hawaiian Islands and onto the west coast of the U.S. The moisture brought by the Pacific jet is also further squeezed out against the high topography of coastal California, in this case producing rain amounts of 5-10 inches over a large area of the state in just a few days. In the Sierra Nevada mountains the moisture was delivered as snow with over 10 feet falling across the Lake Tahoe region between December 27th and January 3rd. Nevada, Arizona and Utah also received heavy snowfall from the storms.
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