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
Marina Koren
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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)

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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