Guan, Bin, Waliser, Duane E., Ralph, F. Martin, Fetzer, Eric J., Neiman, Paul J.

Geophysical Research Letters

Published date March 28, 2016

Hydrometeorological characteristics of rain‐on‐snow events associated with atmospheric rivers

In California, atmospheric rivers tend to be the warmest winter storms we get. We wanted to understand what the connection was between these storms and rain-on-snow events.

Bin Guan, study lead author affiliated with the Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering, a collaboration between NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and UCLA

  • States that rain-on-snow (ROS) events during ARs present enhanced flood risks due to the combined effects of rainfall and snowmelt
  • Identifies ROS occurrences and their connection with ARs during the 1998–2014 winters, focusing on California's Sierra Nevada
  • Finds that in California's Sierra Nevada, atmospheric river storms are two-and-a-half times more likely than other types of winter storms to result in destructive “rain-on-snow” (ROS) events, where rain falls on existing snowpack, causing it to melt