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atmospheric river

A mid-latitude cyclone is helping to funnel wet air into an atmospheric river, pointed right at the California coast. NOAA/NESDIS/STAR GOES-18 hide caption

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NOAA/NESDIS/STAR GOES-18

An Atmospheric River Runs Through It

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A truck is driven through a flooded intersection of Salinas, Calif., on Tuesday. The first in a week of storms brought gusty winds, rain and snow to California on Tuesday, starting in the north and spreading southward. Nic Coury/AP hide caption

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Nic Coury/AP

What is an atmospheric river, responsible for the heavy rainfall on the West Coast?

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Caltrans maintenance supervisor Matt Martin walks by a landslide covering Highway 70 in the Dixie Fire zone Sunday in Plumas County, Calif. Heavy rains blanketing Northern California created slide and flood hazards in land scorched during last summer's wildfires. Noah Berger/AP hide caption

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Noah Berger/AP