It’s Finally Raining in California. Here’s What the Storm Looks Like From Space.

The storm could bring the most rain Southern California has seen in almost two years.

National Journal
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Marina Koren
Feb. 28, 2014, 11:40 a.m.

Cali­for­nia is look­ing bet­ter than it did a month ago, at least from space.

It’s fi­nally rain­ing, bring­ing some des­per­ately needed re­lief to the parched state, which is in the midst of per­haps the worst drought it has ex­per­i­enced in 500 years.

The storm sys­tem in this photo, head­ing to­ward Cali­for­nia from the Pa­cific Ocean, was spot­ted by the Na­tion­al Ocean­ic and At­mo­spher­ic Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s Geo­sta­tion­ary Satel­lite sys­tem on Fri­day. At its cen­ter is a tight swirl, with sweep­ing bands of clouds and showers ex­tend­ing from North­ern to South­ern Cali­for­nia.

In Janu­ary, satel­lite pho­tos showed a bone-dry land­scape with between 4 per­cent and 22 per­cent of its typ­ic­al snow ac­cu­mu­la­tion for that month.

(NASA/NOAA) National Journal

Fri­day’s heavy rain is ex­pec­ted to con­tin­ue un­til Sat­urday, even­tu­ally turn­ing in­to snow as it moves in­to the Mid­w­est. The storm could bring the most rain South­ern Cali­for­nia has re­ceived in al­most two years, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tion­al Weath­er Ser­vice.

“Cali­for­ni­ans haven’t seen rain and wind this power­ful in three years,” Bill Patzert, cli­ma­to­lo­gist at NASA’s Jet Propul­sion Labor­at­ory in Cali­for­nia, said Fri­day.

Back in Decem­ber, Gov. Jerry Brown de­clared a state of emer­gency, ur­ging cit­izens to con­serve as much wa­ter as they can.

Last month, Cali­for­nia’s State Wa­ter Pro­ject, an agency that re­dis­trib­utes wa­ter from the snowy moun­tains in the north to the drier south, an­nounced it could not de­liv­er wa­ter to many com­munit­ies in the com­ing months. Some rur­al areas may run out of wa­ter en­tirely in the next four months if con­di­tions don’t im­prove. Across the state, elec­tric bill­boards that usu­ally flash traffic no­tices dis­play mes­sages like “Ser­i­ous drought. Help save wa­ter.”

Of course, de­liv­er­ance comes with a price. The de­luge puts Cali­for­nia’s foot­hill com­munit­ies at risk from mud and rock slides. The state has already is­sued man­dat­ory evac­u­ation for 1,000 homes in sub­urb­an foot­hills east of Los Angeles. Strong winds also mean coastal com­munit­ies will be battered with high tides, and a flood watch has been pos­ted for Los Angeles County.

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