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Legislation to Expand Atmospheric River Research Program Passes Assembly Committee

For immediate release:

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – California has been pummeled with rain following a series of atmospheric rivers, but their patterns can also help us to better understand climate change and the environmental implications too much or too little water can have on our state. Assemblymember Ward’s AB 30 will broaden the atmospheric river program administered through the Department of Water Resources to link reservoir and flood control operations with best practices in prediction modeling to optimize water management, increase storage, and reduce flood risk. Today, the bill passed out of the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee on a bipartisan vote. 

“Climate change is causing our rainy seasons to be wetter and our dry seasons to be dryer,” said Assemblymember Ward (D-San Diego). “The ability to predict atmospheric rivers –– where and when they will lead to precipitation, as well as how much it will produce — can help water managers and weather forecasters better prepare for the future.”

Atmospheric rivers typically carry an amount of water vapor roughly equivalent to the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A well-known example is the "Pineapple Express," a strong atmospheric river that is capable of bringing moisture from the tropics near Hawaii over to the U.S. West Coast. Thanks to significant state and federal investment, California now has the technology to predict atmospheric rivers a week before they occur, including a 20% improvement in predicting the five-day weather forecast. 

“AB 30 brings together high-tech science and hands-on water industry experience to promote more effective management of California’s water resources,” said Sandra L. Kerl, General Manager of the San Diego County Water Authority. “We are grateful to Assemblymember Ward for his vision and commitment to water stewardship that will help us navigate the wild weather extremes of the changing climate.”