Sea surface temperatures in the vicinity of Hurricane Joaquin are currently the warmest ever recorded. Hurricanes are fueled by warm water, contributing to an increase in the frequency of the most intense hurricanes, and an exponential increase in damage. Virtually every measure of hurricane activity in the Atlantic has increased substantially since the 1970s, due to the combination of human-caused climate change and natural variation.
With the drought-causing high-pressure zone dubbed the “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” pushed aside for now, a powerful storm associated with what are called “atmospheric rivers” is currently drenching the California Bay Area. Atmospheric rivers are relatively narrow, long streams of clouds and atmospheric water vapor that are associated with major storms in the Pacific.