California is experiencing heavy rainfall from an atmospheric phenomenon known as the “Pineapple Express.” This weather pattern is causing floods in the state.

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In the initial week of February, California experienced two consecutive storms that brought heavy rainfall due to the presence of the “pineapple express” atmospheric river.

Atmospheric rivers are long narrow channels of very moist air that flow through the atmosphere, transporting impressive amounts of water vapour that eventually fall as heavy rain or snow. The pineapple express is a famous recurring atmospheric river that forms near the Hawaiian Islands and flows north-east to the Pacific coast of North America.

Following the initial storm on January 31st and February 1st, a second storm arrived between February 4th and 6th. Both brought continuous heavy rainfall to many parts of California and deposited snow on the mountains.

The region from Santa Barbara to San Diego experienced significant impact, with numerous locations breaking records for precipitation for the specific date or month. By February 7th, Downtown Los Angeles had accumulated 10.57 inches of rain, nearly triple the average for February and 74% of the usual annual rainfall.

A state of emergency was announced in multiple counties due to extensive flash flooding. In the mountainous regions of Los Angeles and San Francisco, mudslides caused destruction of buildings and vehicles, while coastal cliffs collapsed in Santa Barbara county and a portion of a major road was washed away in the Mojave desert. Additionally, high winds were reported, with gusts exceeding 100mph in certain mountainous and coastal regions.

A state of emergency was declared in Nova Scotia due to a powerful storm that brought over a foot of snow to the province between Friday and Monday. Cape Breton Island was hit the hardest, with the town of Sydney receiving 40.6 inches at its airport and almost 60 inches reported in nearby areas.

This week, the Copernicus Climate Change Service of the EU stated that the average air temperature of Earth for the period between February 2023 and January 2024 was 1.52C higher than pre-industrial levels. This marks the first instance of global warming surpassing the 1.5C limit for a full year.

In 2015, global leaders made a commitment to restrict temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. This promise pertains to long-term effects, therefore exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius in a single 12-month period does not indicate failure, but it does increase the risk of failure.

The average temperature of the Earth’s sea surface has reached a new record high of 21.05C on Saturday, surpassing the previous record of 21.02C in August 2023.


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