‘Atmospheric river’ likely to drench Phoenix area on Valentine’s Day

Feb 13, 2019, 8:09 AM | Updated: Feb 14, 2019, 7:55 am

(Screenshot/ CityCam)...

(Screenshot/ CityCam)

(Screenshot/ CityCam)

PHOENIX – An “atmospheric river” is fast approaching metro Phoenix and the rain that falls will likely break the hearts of anyone planning on patio dining for Valentine’s Day.

Chances of rain hammering the Valley on Thursday jumped to 100 percent, according to weather experts, after early odds of 80 percent. Up north will be hit even harder.

“There’s a lot of moisture coming up from the Pacific,” Jaret Rogers, National Weather Service Phoenix bureau meteorologist, told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

“We should see quite a bit of rainfall,” he said Wednesday. The Valley could get more than a half-inch and some areas could approach three-quarters of an inch.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric and Administration explained an atmospheric river as:

… relatively long, narrow regions in the atmosphere – like rivers in the sky – that transport most of the water vapor outside of the tropics.

These columns of vapor move with the weather, carrying an amount of water vapor roughly equivalent to the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

When the atmospheric rivers make landfall, they often release this water vapor in the form of rain or snow.”

“We’re forecasting record levels of moisture … in the air,” Rogers said.

A flood watch was scheduled to go into effect at 5 a.m. in Cave Creek and New River and last until late Friday morning.

Brent Fenton with Daisy Mountain Fire Medical advised drivers against attempting to wade through even the shallowest of waters in case of flash floods.

“We always encourage drivers — no matter how little water there is on the road, we recommend they don’t cross,” he told KTAR News.

Fenton said the department’s substations in New River and Black Canyon City also have sandbags available for residents who want to secure their homes.

Temperatures won’t fall much below 60 degrees during the bulk of the storm. Thursday’s high was supposed to be 58 degrees.

Flagstaff was on alert for heavy rain; snow would be a problem above 8,000 feet elevation.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jim Cross contributed to this report.

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‘Atmospheric river’ likely to drench Phoenix area on Valentine’s Day