A dramatic new satellite image shows this “atmospheric river” as it extends from Hawaii to the US West Coast.

They may float up in the sky, but atmospheric rivers are aptly named.

Extending for hundreds of miles, these narrow columns of water vapour can channel more water than flows through the mouth of the Mississippi.

When atmospheric rivers make landfall, they often release their soggy cargo in the form of rain or snow.

Sometimes called the “Pineapple Express,” these enormous plumes originate in the tropics and follow a path towards large landmasses.

Since early October, and after nearly five years of drought, California has faced an onslaught of atmospheric rivers.

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