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Weather Extra: Categorizing Atmospheric Rivers

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- The term 'atmospheric river' has become recognizable to many in the Bay Area as it was soaked by rainfall over the past few weeks. To help those wanting more on the term, KPIX 5 Meteorologist Darren Peck broke down the phrase and demonstrated how to use it properly.

"An atmospheric river by itself is not a storm but an atmospheric river is a component of a storm, it's a piece of a storm, it's an ingredient that can get pulled into a storm to super charge it with a lot more water vapor," he said.

The term 'atmospheric river' was created at Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego by The Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes. This was the beginning of meteorologists understanding of this part of storms.

Darren said, "They've come up with the terminology. They've come up with the labels and they've come up with a way to forecast them."

Many KPIX watchers are also familiar with the term "Pineapple Express". It was commonly used in the past, before meteorologists began recognizing how widespread they can be across the world. In the last 10 years, more research has been done making the characteristics and differences more prominent.

"The one that we got this week did not come from Hawaii. That one is streaming all the way from across the other side of the pacific," he said. "Almost more in the mid-latitudes. If it had been coming from Hawaii, it would be coming up from much warmer latitudes."

To learn more, watch the video above.

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