Atmospheric River Meditation in SF

by Joel Pomerantz

December 13th, 2014

Here’s my 7-minute storm video, meditative and exploratory rather than my usual strict documentation.

San Francisco was blasted by a few inches of rain in a single day on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. It was an ‘atmospheric river’ (AR) blasting at the coast like a fire hose. These “rivers” contain as much water as many Mississippis, wafting through the air about a mile above the sea from the equatorial region beyond Hawai’i.

This one first blasted Canada and then Washington, then Oregon, then us (in essEFF), then Southern California.

I’ve been researching the probable AR storm sequence of 1861 & 1862, as readers of this site will know, so I decided to go out and capture some images around town. It won’t appear especially dramatic to people from wetter climates, but the SF infrastructure and history of drought prepares us poorly us for this kind of thing.

My friend John’s offices (Stripe) at Folsom and 18th Street are so flood prone they moved all the furniture upstairs! Last time a storm like this came, it flooded the area four feet deep. But he was spared this time!

Music in this video is Aïya Aïya by Rachid Taha, who (quoting Wikipedia) is an Algerian singer and activist based in France. • Please support him and his brilliant work! •

If you want to help do research on the AR of 1862, please let us know!

3 Comments to “Atmospheric River Meditation in SF”

  1. Danny G says:

    Nice! I dug out my 40-year-old galoshes that day and got a good workout kicking leaves off of drains in my hood.

  2. Mike B says:

    Great video! Here’s a thought about where that water goes once it hits the drain.

    SF doesn’t have a separate storm drain system – it all goes into the sewer plant, unlike most newer towns where there are separate storm and sanitary sewers. They’ve always thought that was bad – the sewage treatment plant has to be able to handle a huge peak flow, and still needs storage for outrageous storm flows. But is it really so bad to have a combined system? Places with separate storm sewers now have many expensive stormwater cleanup requirements (streets are dirty…), but SF really just has to make sure there aren’t any overflows – it all goes through the treatment plant eventually. So is old-bad actually good?

  3. Grace says:

    Love it! Especially the chance to see my neighborhood in the throes of the storm while sitting warm and dry at my desk 🙂

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