BODEGA BAY (KPIX 5) – Researchers are eager to better understand Northern California’s atmospheric river storm, which is bringing flood warnings to the area.

In Bodega Bay, Scripps researchers are launching weather balloons to study this Atmospheric River storm.

The data goes real-time to NOAA.

Every three hours, researchers blow up weather balloons, take them to the launch site at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Lab and send them straight into the storm.

Anna Wilson, field research manager at the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes said, “We’re looking at atmospheric rivers which are the source of half of California’s annual precipitation. It’s really important for the state. We’re sampling this storm which is the most extreme storm we’ve seen this season.”

The weather balloon and the attached GPS radiosonde, which is a battery-powered telemetry instrument, can measure all levels of the atmosphere up to 82,000 feet.

Temperature, pressure, wind and moisture data is provided real-time, every second. These weather observations are sent to the National Weather Service in real-time to help meteorologists track the storm.

This research is also important because it will help forecasters more accurately predict atmospheric river events in the future, including their landfall location, rainfall intensity and duration.

“We stay up all night observing every three hours no matter what time of the day,” Wilson said. “I feel like we just run on adrenaline like ‘what’s our integrative vapor transport going to be next?’ It’s just really exciting to learn more about these events.”

The scientists launch about 80 weather balloons.

Unfortunately, the scientists don’t retrieve them, but they do put their email address on them and encourage the public to get in touch if they find one.

While scientists are enjoying learning about the weather event, the National Weather Service has issued flood warnings for Northern California, leaving residents bracing for the worst.
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