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Pineapple Express Storms Could Ease California Drought

** RCB ** / Flickr

** RCB ** / Flickr

With a weak, if any, El Niño in the forecast, the California drought is expected to continue into 2015. But the state could benefit from Pineapple Express storms from the eastern Pacific. Forecasters also call them "atmospheric rivers."

The latest analysis from federal forecasters shows a weak, if any, El Niño this fall and winter. The California drought is now expected to continue into a fourth year in 2015. 

“California winters are made or broken by atmospheric rivers or Pineapple Expresses,” said Michelle Mead, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Sacramento. 

She said those weather systems aren’t able to be forecast months in advance.   

“We can't look 2-3 months in the future, the Pineapple Express events are forecast seven-to-10 days out,” said Mead. “And those are the events that we'll be definitely be tracking and letting folks know of when we start seeing those as we get into our wet season." 

Mead said the wet season in California is late-October through April. She said the downside of the eastern Pacific storm systems is they also cause flooding. 

"Even though we're in a drought, and, if we are lucky enough to get one of those atmospheric rivers, we can see flash flooding come pretty quickly, or urban flooding where the streets and underpasses are filling up with water," said Mead.



In Sacramento, the 2013-14 water year ending June 30th was the 11th driest with 10.35 inches of rain and the 1975-76 drought year was the driest at 7.25 inches.

 environmentclimate changedrought 2014El Nino

Ed Joyce

Former All Things Considered Anchor & Reporter

Ed Joyce is a former reporter and All Things Considered news anchor at Capital Public Radio. Ed is a veteran journalist with experience in a variety of news positions across all media platforms, including radio, television, web and print.   Read Full Bio