NASA eyes Pineapple Express soaking California

February 23, 2017, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
IMERG rainfall estimates for the period from Feb. 15 at 00:30 UTC (Feb. 14 at 7:30 p.m. EST) to Feb. 23 at 23:00 UTC (6 p.m. EST). The initial surge was responsible for bringing part of the rainfall (up to about 2 to 3 inches) was seen over the coastal regions southwestern Oregon and northern California. Credit: NASA/JAXA, Hal Pierce

NASA has estimated rainfall from the Pineapple Express over the coastal regions southwestern Oregon and northern California from the series of storms in February, 2017.

The West Coast is once again feeling the effects of the "Pineapple Express." Back in early January one of these "atmospheric river" events, which taps into tropical moisture from as far away as the Hawaiian Islands, brought from Washington state and Oregon all the way down to southern California. This second time around, many of those same areas were hit again. The current rains are a result of three separate surges of moisture impacting the West Coast. The first such surge in this current event began impacting the Pacific coastal regions of Washington, Oregon, and northern California on February 15.

The Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM (the Global Precipitation Measurement mission) or IMERG is used to estimate precipitation from a combination of passive microwave sensors, including GPM's microwave imager (GMI) and geostationary satellite infrared data. GPM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA.

At NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland data from IMERG was used to create images and animations showing the rainfall. One image showed accumulated IMERG rainfall estimates for the period from Feb. 15 at 00:30 UTC (Feb. 14 at 7:30 p.m. EST) to Feb. 23 at 23:00 UTC (6 p.m. EST). The initial surge was responsible for bringing part of the rainfall (up to about 2 to 3 inches) was seen over the southwestern Oregon and northern California.

This visualization combines precipitation data from the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission's Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals (IMERG) and water vapor data from the Goddard Earth Observing System Model (GEOS). These datasets show the extreme rainfall that occurred in California during the first three weeks of February 2017 and the atmospheric rivers that transported the rain to the area. Credit: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

The next surge of moisture began to arrive on Feb. 17 and brought moderate to somewhat heavy rain initially to parts of the northern Sacramento Valley and along and inward from the coast from about Big Sur southward to Los Angeles. It delivered even heavier rainfall farther southward along the coast into Baja California where up to 7 to 10 inches is estimated to have fallen (shown in purple and pink). This surge was also responsible for bringing moderate to heavy rains (about 2 to 4 inches, shown in yellow and red) to parts of Arizona.

The analysis showed rain rates derived from both the GMI and dual-frequency precipitation radar or DPR, that were overlaid on enhanced visible and infrared data from NOAA's GOES-West satellite to create a full picture. The image was taken on Feb. 17 at 21:03 UTC (4:03 p.m. EST) and showed a long plume of mostly moderate rain (green areas) streaming northward into the coast around Los Angeles in association with this second surge. GPM's DPR can also provide details on storm structure. This third image shows precipitation top heights corresponding to the previous image. The storms tops are all relatively shallow (generally below 7 km, shown in blue) with the highest only reaching just over 8 km (shown in lighter blue). The bulk of the rain accumulation is due to the steady, non-stop nature of this relatively shallow, moderate rain and the effects of orographic enhancement and not to intense thunderstorm activity.

The final and most recent surge of moisture began making its way ashore in and around central California closer to the San Francisco Bay area on Feb. 20, bringing rain to the Bay Area as well as farther north along the coast and enhancing the rainfall totals over the Sacramento Valley and coastal northern California and southwest Oregon.

IMERG analyzed rainfall from the Feb. 17 event that brought moderate to somewhat heavy rain initially to parts of the northern Sacramento Valley and along and inward from the coast from about Big Sur southward to Los Angeles. Baja California received 7 to 10 inches (purple and pink). About 2 to 4 inches fell (yellow and red) in parts of Arizona. Credit: NASA/JAXA, Hal Pierce

Explore further: NASA sees Pineapple Express deliver heavy rains, flooding to California

Related Stories

Satellite views storm system affecting Southern California

February 18, 2017

Satellite imagery captured the beginning of a chain of Eastern Pacific Ocean storms forecast to affect the U.S. West Coast. A close-up satellite view show from Feb. 17 shows a large storm system affecting southern California, ...

NASA observes extreme rainfall over Southern California

January 26, 2017

NASA calculated California's rainfall over seven days using a constellation of satellites and created a map to provide the visual extent of the large rainfall totals. It is sunny in southern California today but recent unusually ...

NASA sees storms affecting the western US

January 9, 2017

Extreme rain events have been affecting California and snow has blanketed the Pacific Northwest. NASA/NOAA's GOES Project created a satellite animation showing the storms affecting the region from January 6 through 9, 2017, ...

Recommended for you

Galactic center visualization delivers star power

March 21, 2019

Want to take a trip to the center of the Milky Way? Check out a new immersive, ultra-high-definition visualization. This 360-movie offers an unparalleled opportunity to look around the center of the galaxy, from the vantage ...

Ultra-sharp images make old stars look absolutely marvelous

March 21, 2019

Using high-resolution adaptive optics imaging from the Gemini Observatory, astronomers have uncovered one of the oldest star clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy. The remarkably sharp image looks back into the early history of ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.