A 142-year climatology of Northern California landslides and atmospheric rivers

TitleA 142-year climatology of Northern California landslides and atmospheric rivers
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsCordeira JM, Stock J., Dettinger MD, Young A.M, Kalansky J.F, Ralph FM
Date Published2019/08
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0003-0007
Accession NumberWOS:000482995800011
Keywordsdebris flows; events; impacts; Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences; precipitation; west-coast; wildfire

We compare a novel dataset of San Francisco Bay Area landslides from 1871 to 2012 to corresponding atmospheric conditions commonly associated with Pacific winter storms and landfalling atmospheric rivers (ARs). Landslides in the San Francisco Bay Area occur primarily during winter months, coinciding with enhanced integrated water vapor transport (IVT) magnitudes >= 250 kg m(-1) s(-1) at the coast 76% of the time and with landfalling ARs over the near-offshore northeast Pacific 82% of the time. Results illustrate that days, or the first in a series of days, with a landslide (i.e., landslide onset days) typically occur in association with NOAA Twentieth Century Reanalysis-derived IVT magnitudes >= 250 kg m(-1) s(-1) that persist for similar to 20 h and temporal maxima in precipitation rates. Composite analyses of sea level pressure, integrated water vapor, and IVT during 3-month periods during September-May on landslide onset days further illustrate that these events coincide with regions of low pressure to the northwest of California and high pressure to the south, synoptic-scale flow conditions associated with strong onshore flow, and water vapor transports in the form of landfalling ARs.

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