A River Runs above Us – Hakai Magazine

Atmospheric rivers occur all over the world in this global view from February, 2017. Illustration courtesy of NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio - Lead Animator: Horace Mitchell (NASA/GSFC), VIRRS Suomi NPP natural color image courtesy of NASA/Earth Observatory/Jesse Allen)

In mid-November 2021, a great storm begins brewing in the central Pacific Ocean north of Hawai‘i. Especially warm water, heated by the sun, steams off the sea surface and funnels into the sky.

A tendril of this floating moisture sweeps eastward across the ocean. It rides the winds for a day until it reaches the coasts of British Columbia and Washington State. There, the storm hits air turbulence, which pushes it into position—straight over British Columbia’s Fraser River valley….