Move Over Atmospheric River and Make Way for the Fujiwhara Effect
The term “atmospheric river” has become old hat for Californians, who’ve experienced 12 of them through winter and the start of spring.
However, other perhaps unfamiliar meteorological descriptions are being introduced to Golden State residents amid the unrelenting rain and snow.
Tuesday produced what is known as the “Fujiwhara effect” in the Bay Area. That occurred when a system developed two “eyes” of low pressure producing a double-barrel blow to San Francisco and Santa Cruz.
Historic photos: The eye of the storm is right over the city of San Francisco! #CAwx
Simply incredible. pic.twitter.com/cS4sZTZcIE
— Nahel Belgherze (@WxNB_) March 21, 2023
Here is a description of the Fujiwhara effect courtesy of the National Weather Service:
“When two hurricanes spinning in the same direction pass close enough to each other, they begin an intense dance around their common center. If one hurricane is a lot stronger than the other, the smaller one will orbit it and eventually come crashing into its vortex to be absorbed. Two storms closer in strength can gravitate towards each other until they reach a common point and merge, or merely spin each other around for a while before shooting off on their own paths. In rare occasions, the effect is additive when the hurricanes come together, resulting in one larger storm instead of two smaller ones.”
Fine, fine… I’ll tweet a radar loop of the impressive land-falling, double barrelled, fujiwhara-ing cyclone. #CAwx pic.twitter.com/B3UM9P5BDV
— Neil Lareau (@nplareau) March 21, 2023
Tuesday’s storm blasted the Bay Area with powerful gusts and downpours, pounded Sacramento with intense hail, and triggered a rare tornado warning on the Southern California coast.
The damaging winds, rain, and snow, were blamed for two deaths and forecasters said additional flooding will continue in parts of the state, including the San Joaquin Valley.
Some 121,000 customers were without electricity early Wednesday throughout the state, according to PowerOutage.us.
This is a pretty significant tornado by CA standards since it hit a populated area, clearly caused damage, and may have caused injuries. (It’s very hard to assess tornado strength from footage like this, but at the very least it appears stronger than a marginal/EF-0 event). #CAwx https://t.co/Minrv5t54Q
— Daniel Swain (@Weather_West) March 22, 2023
The Valley Forecast
A Winter Storm Warning will remain in effect through 11 p.m. Wednesday, the National Weather Service in Hanford said.
Releases from #FriantDam increased to 8,800 cfs this morning to make room for incoming flows into Millerton Reservoir. Heed caution along the San Joaquin River. pic.twitter.com/cfF00mMZjJ
— Bureau of Reclamation – California-Great Basin (@ReclamationCGB) March 22, 2023
The Valley forecast calls for scattered showers continuing overnight, especially in the Sierra Nevada and foothills.
NWS says that the rain should clear out of the Valley on Thursday but to expect cooler-than-normal temperatures and mountain showers through the weekend.
Another low-pressure system could bring the return of rain by next Tuesday.
Tulare County Deals With Flooding
More than 60 sheriff’s deputies and police officers from Tulare County and neighboring agencies are helping residents deal with flooding and evacuations.
The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post that personnel are focused on keeping residents in Allensworth and Alpaugh, in particular, out of harm’s way.
Although several roads throughout the county have sinkholes, mudslides, washouts, and flooding, the areas along Highway 43 are the worst, the sheriff’s office said. Making the situation even more dangerous: People are ignoring road closures and becoming stranded.
Related Story: Woodlake Braces for More Flooding as Residents Demand Answers
Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort Will Be Open Through July
The Mammoth Mountain resort in the eastern Sierra Nevada announced that it will remain open for skiing and snowboarding at least through the end of July.
With a season-to-date snowfall of 634 inches at the main lodge, it was likely just one storm away from breaking the all-time record of 668 inches set in the 2010-2011 season.
(Associated Press contributed to this article.)