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5,000-mile-long ‘atmospheric river’ stretched across Pacific

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A fascinating weather pattern is in place in the Northern Hemisphere this week. It’s a river in the sky that spans the full width of the Pacific Ocean from Asia to North America. The phenomenon is remarkably obvious — a plume of clouds with a few areas of low pressure embedded, transported at shocking speeds across the planet’s largest ocean via the jet stream.

Over the coming days, this so-called ‘atmospheric river’ will unload tremendous amounts of rain and snow over the Pacific Northwest, reports Washington Post.

The series of storms will spray out the equivalent of 10 to 15 inches of rain at high elevations and up to several inches near the coast.

“Talk about an atmospheric river!! Wow!” exclaimed the National Weather Service office in a tweet.

F. Martin Ralph, an expert on atmospheric rivers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, said the length of the cloud complex is unusual but not without precedent. He pointed to a similar cloud complex and atmospheric river set up over the Pacific in October 2009, aimed at central California, which dumped up to 15 inches of rain.