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The Pineapple Express

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Most of the country has enjoyed tranquil weather for Thanksgiving travel. Here in Kentucky, we have seen sunny and seasonably mild days. Some parts of the country even set new record highs. The folks in the Pacific Northwest have not been as lucky as one storm after another has ashore over the last several days. Wind, rain, and mountain snow has been relentless across northern California, Oregon, and Washington. A feature known as an "atmospheric river" is a responsible.

Atmospheric rivers are narrow regions of the atmosphere that transport moisture from the tropics to the northern latitudes. A well-known atmospheric river is the "Pineapple Express." (No, it's not just the name of a James Franco and Seth Rogen flick.) The Pineapple Express creates a highway for moisture to travel from Hawaii to the US and Canada's west coast, creating heavy rain and snow events.

Atmospheric rivers come in all shapes and sizes, and can last varying periods of time. The duration of these events is controlled by the jet stream and the upper-level wind pattern. This week we have seen a large ridge centered over the Southwestern US, which corresponds with the record warmth on Thanksgiving. This set-up has kept the Pineapple Express open, and the rain and wind coming across the Northwest. Once the pattern breaks down or shifts, the atmospheric river will stop flowing. 

We are tracking a shift in the pattern by the middle of this upcoming week. In fact, the storms that came ashore Saturday night, in modified form, will track into the Bluegrass on Thursday. This will bring us our first chance for rain in days. We are not tracking the storm to be nearly as disruptive as it will be for the Pacific Northwest. We'll squeeze out a few showers and a modest drop cool down to start December.

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