An atmospheric river is set to bring torrential rains and strong winds along the West Coast this week, affecting millions of Americans. The weather system, known as a "Pineapple Express" because it originates near Hawaii, extends 3,000 miles. It is expected to push south from British Columbia, Canada, to Northern California today, reaching Southern California tomorrow before making its way to Arizona into the weekend.
A Pineapple Express can bring up to 5 inches of rain in a single day to California, and some coastal areas are forecast to see over 8 inches of rain throughout the week. Higher elevations, including the Sierra Nevada, could see 1-3 feet of snow. A second atmospheric river storm could follow, arriving in California by sometime Sunday, coinciding with the Grammy Awards weekend, and lasting into early next week.
Officials have reassured the public that there is no indication of a megaflood, the last occurrence of which was in 1861, lasting 45 days and forming a lake in the Central Valley.