Atmospheric Rivers & Auburn Dam

Atmospheric rivers of rain will increase, according to this article from Yale Climate Connections, and if so, California needs more storage capacity, and for our area, that means Auburn Dam; which the Bureau of Reclamation still considers an alternative, according to Wikipedia:

“Since its inception, hundreds of millions of dollars have been poured into the Auburn Dam project, but no further work has been done since the 1980s. However, the Bureau of Reclamation continues to list the Auburn as a considered alternative for the future of its Auburn-Folsom South Unit project. As of now, massive evidence of the dam’s construction still remain in the North Fork American River canyon, specifically the excavations for the abutments and spillway, with the consequences of increased erosion.” (Retrieved March 27, 2019 from

An excerpt from the Yale Climate Connections article.

Imagine a river flowing through the sky – and all of its water dropping down to earth. That’s kind of what happens during many winter storms on the west coast.

A so-called “atmospheric river” is a long, flowing band of water vapor – typically a few hundred miles wide – that contains vast amounts of moisture. When it moves inland over mountains, the moisture rises, causing it to cool and fall to earth as rain or snow.

Duane Waliser of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory says atmospheric rivers are often beneficial, because they provide about half of California’s fresh water supply. But strong atmospheric river systems can also be dangerous – especially when they stall, or produce rain on top of snow.

Waliser: “Virtually all the major floods that occur along the west coast of the U.S. are associated with atmospheric rivers.”

He says as the climate warms, atmospheric rivers are projected to grow wider and longer. Powerful ones are also expected to become more frequent. That could increase water supply in some places …

Waliser: “But on the other hand, atmospheric rivers come with flood potential as well, so they’re sort of a double-edged sword, so to speak.”

Retrieved March 27, 2019 from

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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