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What happened to Seattle’s ‘Pineapple Express?’ Enter, the ‘atmospheric river’

Nov 11, 2021, 11:55 AM | Updated: 4:25 pm
pineapple express, seattle rain...
Fans watch a Seahawks game in ponchos as rain comes down in Seattle, Washington. (File photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
(File photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Why are we no longer calling these big dumps of rain the “Pineapple Express?” Now, this weather pattern is called an “atmospheric river.”

Colleen O’Brien shared on Seattle’s Morning News that she may have solved the mystery — with the help of KIRO Radio’s overnight anchor and editor Lisa Brooks, who spoke to the National Weather Service in Seattle about the rain arriving Thursday and soaking the Puget Sound region through Friday.

Atmospheric river to bring drenching rain, possible flooding

“Expect basically one to three inches from north, closer to one up in Bellingham and closer to three as you get down toward Olympia and the South Sound,” NWS Meteorologist Matthew Cullen explained.

There’s also a landslide alert in effect, flood watches in effect for both rivers and urban flooding. So this “atmospheric river,” as we’re calling it now, is a big deal.

“We do have a flood watch currently in effect, basically all the way from today into the weekend. And that is because of this very heavy rainfall that’s expected,” Cullen said.

But why, Colleen asks, aren’t we calling it by the arguably more fun name of Pineapple Express?

“I feel like I want to hop onboard the Pineapple Express, but I’m not jumping into an atmospheric river,” she said.

“Atmospheric river is really more appropriate because not every one of these events originates from the tropics near Hawaii,” Cullen told KIRO Radio. “There are other source regions and other areas and mechanisms by which they happen.”

“It’s the preferred scientific term these days, and it’s a much more general term because they don’t have to originate from just near Hawaii,” he added.

Why did people outside of Kitsap County receive a tornado alert Tuesday?

“So it wasn’t because of complaints from pineapple producers?” KIRO Radio host Dave Ross asked.

No, Colleen says, but she still wonders if the change also has to do with a movie titled “Pineapple Express” that’s about a topic that maybe the National Weather Service doesn’t want to associate with in its forecasts…

“I’m wondering if the very official, federal National Weather Service didn’t want their forecast associated with drugs,” she said. “… Just throwing it out there. But yes, now we’re calling it atmospheric river. Pineapple Express is defunct.”

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dave Ross on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

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What happened to Seattle’s ‘Pineapple Express?’ Enter, the ‘atmospheric river’