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A ‘Pineapple Express’ is heading for the west coast

A month of extreme winter weather is coming to a fitting end: A massive atmospheric river is set to bring torrential rain and flooding to much of the West Coast this week.

This type of system is known as a “Pineapple Express“ because it originates near Hawai’i in the tropical Pacific and delivers a heavy dollop of moisture to the west coast.

On Monday, the system hit the Pacific Northwest region with heavy rain and record-high temperatures.

Severe flooding toppled cars and damaged homes in San Diego last week (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Severe flooding toppled cars and damaged homes in San Diego last week (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Temperatures as high as 63 degrees Fahrenheit (17C) are expected in the Seattle/Tacoma area over the next 48 hours, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Officials issued flood warnings for the region on Monday.

Oregon will also experience heavy rain from Monday through Wednesday, according to the NWS Portland office.

This week’s deluge could cause mudslides in the Pacific Northwest as rain saturates the soil, NWS officials said.

Light rain in the region already caused multiple slides over the weekend. A mudslide in Mason County, Washington blocked a major roadway on Sunday. Meanwhile, another mudslide in Astoria, Oregon blocked a street and impacted seven homes on Saturday, according to local outlet KGW8.

A mudslide blocked a major roadway in Mason County, Washington on Sunday (Washington State Department of Transportation)
A mudslide blocked a major roadway in Mason County, Washington on Sunday (Washington State Department of Transportation)

On Tuesday evening, the Pineapple Express will shift south to California. Bay Area forecasters are predicting up to eight inches of rain in some areas of northern California, as well as flooding throughout the region late Wednesday into Thursday.

“Expect issues if traveling on Wednesday, especially in the North Bay and the coastal ranges,” officials with the NWS for the Bay Area wrote on X.

By Thursday, Los Angeles is expected to receive up to four inches of rain with areas of higher elevation, like the Sierra Nevada mountains, experiencing small amounts of snow.

The Pineapple Express will hit California just over a week after southern parts of the state saw widespread flooding from torrential rain. More than 4 inches fell within 24 hours, leading to dangerous flooding throughout San Diego.

The rainstorm in San Diego last week inundated hundreds of homes and cars (AP)
The rainstorm in San Diego last week inundated hundreds of homes and cars (AP)

Hundreds of San Diego residents required rescue as they became trapped by floodwaters, and the San Diego Fire Department rescued 24 people along the San Diego and Tijuana rivers, the Associated Press reported.

The heavy rain also caused mudslides throughout southern California, leading to concerns of repeats this week as the Pineapple Express hits the region.

Earlier this month, severe winter storms killed at least 89 people across the country as many northern states suffered brutally cold temperatures, heavy snow and ice.

A toppled tree sits on top of a home in Lake Oswego, Oregon (AP)
A toppled tree sits on top of a home in Lake Oswego, Oregon (AP)

In particular, the Pacific Northwest was hit by a devastating ice storm. In Portland, Oregon, where a quarter-inch of ice coated roads, sidewalks and trees, three people died after a powerline fell on top of their vehicle.

The victims included a 21-year-old pregnant woman, her fiteen-year-old brother and her boyfriend. They were attempting to leave the car and get a nine-month-old infant who was with them to safety. However, ice caused all three of them to slip and hit the live wire. The child survived thanks to Majiah Washington, a neighbor who witnessed the incident and ultimately saved the nine-month-old.