Photos from NASA’s Earth Observatory show the aftereffects of massive amounts of rain on California’s hydrologic system.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says strong atmospheric rivers can transport 7.5 to 15 times the average water flow at the mouth of the Mississippi River. These flowing columns of condensed water vapor produce “significant levels of rain and snow,” and can account for 30-50% of the Pacific Coast’s rain and snow.
Atmospheric rivers are usually 250-375 miles wide.
Satellite photos published by NASA show how rain caused by California’s most recent atmospheric river is carrying sediment through waterways and dumping it into the Pacific Ocean.
The brown Pacific water indicates sediment-rich areas; teal-ish Pacific water indicates the sediment mixing with the ocean’s saltwater.