The answer to our drought may come from what we call Atmospheric Rivers, or ARs for short. Seven out of the last 12 droughts ended when these big fire hoses of water in the sky took aim at California.
ARs can carry about the same amount of water as 20 Mississippi Rivers!
And now we just found out ARs also produce another transport of the abundant moisture. It’s called a Sierra Barrier Jet. Researcher, Dr. Marty Ralph, from the University of San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography, says this jet enhances the amount of rain and snow we see in the lower Sierra and Shasta area.
The Sierra Barrier Jet forms when an AR pushes into Northern California from the Pacific. The cold air with this system sinks and forms another transport going north along the base of the Sierra. This bullnoses right into Shasta and dumps larger amounts of precipitation than we might otherwise see.
The bottom line is the Shasta Reservoir becomes the recipient of this bonus moisture.
Eventually, Marty hopes to have better forecasting for water managers when these ARs start to move our way to help us all have the water we want.