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San Diego Water Managers Seek Better Rain Forecast Information

Rain water runs down a street during a storm in San Diego, Dec. 4, 2019.
Matthew Bowler
Rain water runs down a street during a storm in San Diego, Dec. 4, 2019.

San Diego water managers are working with local researchers to understand how atmospheric rivers bring water to the region.

The moisture-laden storm systems bring rain to Southern California, but too much rain can be damaging.

San Diego Water Managers Seek Better Rain Forecast Information
Listen to this story by Erik Anderson.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers are working to better understand atmospheric rivers, or ARs, so they can predict when and where the weather systems will hit.

“We’re in a climate where the annual precipitation can vary a lot from year to year,” said Marty Ralph, the director of the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes

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Ralph points out that ARs are key rainmakers for both Northern and Southern California.

“About 40 to 60% of California’s water supply comes from a few ARs each year,” Ralph said.

Knowing when and where a storm will hit is valuable information for the San Diego County Water Authority.

The authority can use the information to release reservoir water ahead of a storm if it will bring significant rainfall.

“If we have more refined data on how to anticipate atmospheric rivers,” said Goldy Herbon, a senior water resource manager at the San Diego County Water Authority. “We will be better able to operate our reservoirs to maximize the water supply in our water supply territory.”

Water managers in Orange County are already using the information to help time the release of stored water that can recharge groundwater supplies and create room to capture rainwater.

VIDEO: San Diego Water Managers Seek Better Rain Forecast Information