The winter front, which is called the “atmospheric river,” stretches 3,000 km across the Pacific Ocean and moves toward the northwestern United States. This phenomenon is rated Category 5, the highest.
The Pacific Northwest is known for rain, but not that much. In a few days, Seattle and other cities in the area could get about 25 percent of their annual rainfall. “This river could make the start of Seattle’s rainy season the strongest on record. The previous wettest period from Jan. 1 to 15 was recorded in January 1956,” said CNN meteorologist Pedram Jawaheri. According to the Weather Prediction Center, parts of western Washington could see 300 percent of normal precipitation.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, atmospheric rivers are long, narrow areas in the atmosphere similar to rivers in the sky that carry water vapor. The new atmospheric phenomenon is classified as a Category 5 by the Center for Weather and Water Extremes of the West. This means that the potential for flooding is enormous, with about 15 million people at risk.