My Car Quest

February 23, 2024

An Atmospheric River Runs Through It

by Mike Gulett –

Bad weather keeps us from driving our classic cars and just normal winter weather does the same thing in many parts of the world.

The atmospheric river we are experiencing in California is not like the snow and ice or tornados and hurricanes seen in other places but the heavy rain, wind, floods and down trees do make for lousy driving conditions for new cars let alone classics. And the high water can be dangerous for anyone trying to drive through.

A car evacuates Paso Hondo Road as the Carmel River flood waters rise in Carmel Valley. (David Royal — Monterey Herald Correspondent)

A car evacuates Paso Hondo Road as the Carmel River flood waters rise in Carmel Valley. (David Royal — Monterey Herald Correspondent)

In California we have either drought or floods but rarely anything in between it seems. And the wild fires we experience several times a year create barren land that become the sites of floods when it rains because there is no vegetation to hold the soil in place.

A car crushed by a falling tree at Junipero and Seventh in downtown Carmel. Photo by Peter Hemming.

A car crushed by a falling tree at Junipero and Seventh in downtown Carmel. Photo by Peter Hemming.

I have lived in California for most of my life and never really thought much about an atmospheric river, also known as a Pineapple Express, because they come from Hawaii (pineapples are grown in Hawaii thus the name). I never thought much about an atmospheric river until this year because now they are impacting my daily life unlike before.

A neighbor's tree limb down in Carmel-Rebecca Fuller

My neighbor’s tree limb down in Carmel-photo by Rebecca Fuller

We hope for rain to get us out of the drought we have been in for years but now the ground is saturated so when more water comes down it runs off and creates flooding. We would like the rain to be spaced out more but that is not the nature of the weather here in California – we get rain in the winter but almost no rain in the summer. This is why Monterey Car Week is in August and not January.

So, we have to take what we can get and when it rains we must learn to live with it. Our classic cars should definitely be kept in the garage during an atmospheric river.

As Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say,

It just goes to show you, it’s always something — if it’s not one thing, it’s another.

Atmospheric River - NASA

Atmospheric River – NASA

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Atmospheric River - NASA

A cyclone fed by an atmospheric river off the U.S. West Coast pictured by a weather satellite (credit: CIRA)

An Atmospheric River Runs Through It
Article Name
An Atmospheric River Runs Through It
In California we hope for rain to get us out of the drought we have been in for years but now the ground is saturated so when more water comes down it runs off and creates flooding. The classic cars should definitely be kept in the garage.


  1. Rob Krantz says

    Stay safe and dry Mike!

  2. Where are the reservoirs? I see tons of water flowing down the L.A. “river” to the sea.

    We live in a desert and we’ve been experiencing drought forever.

    Voters approved a bond for reservoirs in 2014, they got right on that, didn’t they? The Sites reservoir project has finally received funding from different sources but still has several hurdles to go through before construction begins, if ever.

    Another company, In and Out Hamburger, announced it was leaving California as have scores of other huge companies and people. With the mass exodus of companies and people leaving mismanaged California, there might eventually be enough water for the dwindling population.

    We don’t have a water shortage problem we have a water management problem.

    To quote Ronald Reagan “The top 9 most terrifying words in the English Language are: I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

    • Rob Krantz says

      100% agree. Lived in CA for 50 years. The last reservoir built in N. Cal was Folsom reservoir near Sacramento. California has a serious lack of water storage, and considering the massive increase in population in the past decades, there isn’t enough water for all of the people, considering the arid climate of California. California has been mismanaged by liberal politicians for decades, particularly the current resident of the governors office. We now live in Arizona, which is managed a bit better, but it’s starting to go down the same road as California

      • The last large Kalifornia reservoir built was New Melones near Sonora . Kalifornia voters passes a water proposition 6-8 years ago that included eleven projects that would help with water storage, but the Kalifornia water resources board turned down all eleven projects. After a number of lawsuits one of the larger progects, the Sites Reservoir is back on the table. This project was purposed back in the fifties. Located near Chico KA in Colusa county the Sites project would allow the state to use excess water off the Sacramento River in heavy rain years (like this year) to fill the .Reservoir. This project would be full of water if the Kalifornia water resources hadn’t stopped it. I escaped Kalifornia and now live in the state of Idaho. No disaster of the week , droughts, floods, fires, taxes and a balanced budget. BTW if you look at the Colorado river/ Lake Mead water issues the biggest user of water on the Colorado river is Southern KA! Kalifornia sucks in many ways.

    • Bruce,

      No need to panic about In & Our Burger – they are not leaving California but opening an office and some stores in Tennessee. We’ll do just fine sharing the love.

  3. wallace wyss says

    As far as car collectors, do you have a plan for moving any of your collector cars to higher ground? That always puzzled me, when towns are flooded–they know in advance it’s going to be a big storm yet lit their cars sit where it will be flooded. Wouldn’t it be prudent to move your most precious car to a rented garage up a few hundred feet from your present garage’s altitude? I see where horses are moved from barns when there’s a fire, so why not move collector cars–sort of n emergency rescue (insurance might cover it?) I myself drove my gullwing out of a burning building. I had just left it for service, looked back, saw the building on fire and ran back and rescued it. Of course if your car has the engine out or is otherwise non functional you got a problem A good reason to keep your car in running condition as much as possible, always aimed out the door and with keys in the ignition

  4. Wes Stewart says

    I realize many of you guys are in CA, but please don’t move to AZ. I’m now surrounded by transplanted Californians. They bring their politics and driving habits with them. I like cars and I like going fast but these people are fools. A few days ago I was in the slow lane on I-10 approaching an off ramp. An idiot came across three lanes and crossed in front of me, driving through the gore and showering my GTI with rocks. Fortunately for him I pay attention and have brakes. I wish I’d been in my 4×4 PU; he would still be tumbling down the freeway.

    Then there are my neighbors. I’m a few hundred feet from Saguaro NP, but surrounded by Californians. The CA transplant across the private road from me owns two parcels, one abutting the park. This is gorgeous Sonoran Desert. He has bladed off a swath of vegetation and paved and rip rapped what was a wide, shallow sandy wash and turned it into a potential torrent, which will cross the road and erode my land.

    Despite owning 12 acres, he built a two-story garage, as close to my property line as possible, that obscures my view of the tallest peak in the Tucson Mountains. And to make sure is was doubly annoying, he put banks of windows in that reflect both the rising and setting sun into my kitchen window.

    In-N-Out Burger is the only good thing to come out of CA in years.

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