UAlbany Meteorologist Available to Discuss California Storms

Newswise — ALBANY, N.Y. – A series of strong storm systems known as “atmospheric rivers” have dumped massive amounts of rain and snow on California since late December, producing deadly flooding, mudslides, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.

California officials reported on Tuesday that the storms have claimed the lives of at least 17 people, which is more than the death toll of wildfires in the region over the past two years combined. More severe weather is expected to hit this weekend.

Ryan Torn, chair and professor at the University at Albany’s Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, is an expert on atmospheric predictability and numerical weather prediction (NWP) models. Currently, he’s leading research in collaboration with the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes that seeks to improve our ability to predict atmospheric rivers along the U.S. West Coast, including where to take additional observations to reduce forecast uncertainty.  

The goal is to develop and test targeted airborne and buoy observations over the Northeast Pacific to improve forecasts of where atmospheric rivers will make landfall, and their potential impacts, with lead times of at least one to five days.

“The recent heavy precipitation has helped alleviate some of the multi-year drought for California, yet the precipitation has come too quickly to avoid some of the hazardous impacts, like river flooding and mudslides,” Torn said. “Thankfully, advancements in past and current research of atmospheric rivers have improved our ability to forecast these events, often several days in advance.”

Torn is available for phone or live/taped interviews. UAlbany also has an on-campus television studio for satellite interviews.

About the University at Albany:

A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master’s, doctoral and graduate certificate programs. As a Carnegie-classified R1 institution, signifying the highest level of doctoral and research activity, UAlbany is a leader among New York colleges and universities in diverse fields like atmospheric and environmental sciences, businesseducation, public health, health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare and sociology, taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.