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Governor Newsom Signs Assemblymember Ward’s Bill to Expand Atmospheric River Research Program

For immediate release:

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Atmospheric rivers and 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 Chris Ward introduced AB 30 to broaden the atmospheric river program administered through the Department of Water Resources to connect reservoir and flood control operations with best practices in prediction modeling to optimize water management, increase storage, and reduce flood risk. Governor Newsom recently signed the bill into law and it will go into effect on January 1, 2024. 

“I am pleased the governor signed this legislation into law so California can be better prepared for the future,” 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.”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, about 30 to 50 percent of annual precipitation in the west coast states occurs in just a few atmospheric river events. 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. Scientists use satellite, radar, aircraft and other tools to better understand atmospheric rivers and their importance to both weather and climate.

“Climate change is throwing more extremes in weather at us in California,” said Dr. Marty Ralph, Director of the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes. “One of the things we can do is try to adapt to it, and there’s a lot of interest in adaptation strategies. Better atmospheric river forecasts help forecast informed reservoir operations (FIRO) be viable, allowing reservoir operators to use existing infrastructure to manage the extremes more effectively."