California has been pummeled by several atmospheric river events over the past two to three weeks. Atmospheric rivers are concentrated streams of water vapor originating over the Hawaiian tropics, ranging about 100 to 250 miles in width and follow a tight path toward Western North America. These narrow rivers of moisture-laden air flow make landfall five to six times a year in California, in a normal winter season
Although potent atmospheric rivers can cause extreme rainfall with catastrophic flooding and mudslides, many are weak and provide beneficial rain to California every winter. On average, about 30 percent to 50 percent of annual precipitation on North America’s West Coast comes from a handful of atmospheric river events, according to the National Weather Service.
Some areas of California have received 400 percent-600 percent above historical rainfall amounts, causing widespread flooding. As of January 12, it is estimated that upwards of 20,000 acres of plantable vegetable ground have been flooded in the Salinas Valley, and more rain is on the way. Monterey County Records show the Salinas Valley has roughly 450,000 plantable vegetable acres.
Salinas Valley accounts for roughly 80 percent of the nation’s vegetable production from April to early July. Cultivation/planting cannot take place under the current wet and flooded field conditions. Delayed plantings and crops lost to flooding will ultimately lead to product shortages and high markets in the spring (April – May).
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