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Atmospheric rivers are sinews of moisture from the tropics. The one pictured here appeared over the Northern Pacific on Jan. 3. NOAA hide caption

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NOAA

New Research Shows How 'Atmospheric Rivers' Wreak Havoc Around The Globe

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Vineyards remain flooded in the Russian River Valley in Forestville, Calif., on Monday. A massive storm system stretching from California into Nevada saw rivers overflowing their banks, flooded vineyards and forced people to evacuate their homes after warnings that hillsides previously parched by wildfires could give way to mudslides. Eric Risberg/AP hide caption

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Eric Risberg/AP

A man covers himself with a plastic sheet as a shield as he walks to a safer place near Gopalpur in eastern India Saturday. Hundreds of thousands of people living along India's eastern coastline took shelter from the massive powerful cyclone Phailin. Biswaranjan Rout/AP hide caption

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Biswaranjan Rout/AP

A GOES satellite handout photo provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Tropical Storm Karen churning in the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday afternoon. Karen, the second named storm to hit the U.S. this hurricane season, has weakened into a tropical depression. NOAA/Getty Images hide caption

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NOAA/Getty Images

The National Hurricane Center's tracking system placed Tropical Storm Andrea on Florida's Gulf coast, level with Gainesville, Thursday afternoon. The storm is expected to spread rain and strong winds along the Southeastern coast tonight and Friday. National Hurricane Center hide caption

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National Hurricane Center