New satellite animation shows 'Pineapple Express' bringing rains to California

Feb 11, 2014

A new animation made at NASA using imagery from NOAA's GOES-West satellite showed the "Pineapple Express" bringing much needed rain and snow to California from Feb. 7 to 9.

A "Pineapple Express" is a low-level jet of moist air flowing from Hawaii to California, delivering a generous supply of precipitation. In this case, much-needed rain falls in central California, which was suffering from a severe drought.

"For Californians, a Pineapple Express can be both a blessing and a curse," said Bill Patzert, climatologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "These narrow, moisture-rich 'atmospheric rivers' burst out of the tropics near Hawaii, rushing northeast, taking aim on the U.S. West Coast. This year, on our knees because of a multi-year drought, some areas in central and northern California were pounded by fierce winds and 4 inches to 8 inches of rain by this classic Pineapple Express. Although this event definitely put a dent in the drought, there was also plenty of flooding and wind damage."

Visible and infrared images taken from NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental, or GOES-West, satellite from Feb. 7 through 9, 2014, were animated by the NASA GOES Project at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., to create a 30-second movie. The movie shows a stream of clouds associated with the Pineapple Express flowing into California.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Imagery from NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental, or GOES-West, satellite from Feb. 7 through 9, 2014 show a stream of clouds associated with a low-level jet of moist air flowing from Hawaii to California, delivering a generous supply of precipitation. Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project, Dennis Chesters

GOES satellites provide the kind of continuous monitoring necessary for intensive data analysis. Geostationary describes an orbit in which a satellite is always in the same position with respect to the rotating Earth. This allows GOES to hover continuously over one position on Earth's surface, appearing stationary. As a result, GOES provide a constant vigil for the atmospheric "triggers" for severe weather conditions such as tornadoes, flash floods, hail storms and hurricanes.

"These events can produce up to 50 percent of California's annual ," Patzert said. "The amount of water they can dump on California can be 10 times the flow of the Mississippi River. Our drought recovery in the West depends on the Pineapple connection."

Explore further: California drought

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

California drought

Feb 10, 2014

California is supposed to be the Golden State. Make that golden brown. The entire west coast of the United States is changing color as the deepest drought in more than a century unfolds. According to the US Dept. of Agriculture ...

Study finds climate link to atmospheric-river storms

Nov 11, 2013

(Phys.org) —A new NASA-led study of atmospheric-river storms from the Pacific Ocean may help scientists better predict major winter snowfalls that hit West Coast mountains and lead to heavy spring runoff ...

Recommended for you

Six Nepalese dead, six missing in Everest avalanche

2 hours ago

At least six Nepalese climbing guides have been killed and six others are missing after an avalanche struck Mount Everest early Friday in one of the deadliest accidents on the world's highest peak, officials ...

Clean air: Fewer sources for self-cleaning

16 hours ago

Up to now, HONO, also known as nitrous acid, was considered one of the most important sources of hydroxyl radicals (OH), which are regarded as the detergent of the atmosphere, allowing the air to clean itself. ...

There's something ancient in the icebox

16 hours ago

Glaciers are commonly thought to work like a belt sander. As they move over the land they scrape off everything—vegetation, soil, and even the top layer of bedrock. So scientists were greatly surprised ...

Image: Grand Canyon geology lessons on view

23 hours ago

The Grand Canyon in northern Arizona is a favorite for astronauts shooting photos from the International Space Station, as well as one of the best-known tourist attractions in the world. The steep walls of ...

First radar vision for Copernicus

23 hours ago

Launched on 3 April, ESA's Sentinel-1A satellite has already delivered its first radar images of Earth. They offer a tantalising glimpse of the kind of operational imagery that this new mission will provide ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

There's something ancient in the icebox

Glaciers are commonly thought to work like a belt sander. As they move over the land they scrape off everything—vegetation, soil, and even the top layer of bedrock. So scientists were greatly surprised ...

Six Nepalese dead, six missing in Everest avalanche

At least six Nepalese climbing guides have been killed and six others are missing after an avalanche struck Mount Everest early Friday in one of the deadliest accidents on the world's highest peak, officials ...

Clean air: Fewer sources for self-cleaning

Up to now, HONO, also known as nitrous acid, was considered one of the most important sources of hydroxyl radicals (OH), which are regarded as the detergent of the atmosphere, allowing the air to clean itself. ...

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...