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

Dave's Commentary

Dave Ross

Tacoma police, South King County...
MyNorthwest Staff

South King County mayors demand action from state to end rash of violence

Multiple mayors in South King County are banding together to combat a violent trend after seven people were shot in four days. 
1 day ago
KIRO Radio staff

Mayfield: Focusing less on money and more on giving

What if we focused on giving more every day? And what if -- beyond money -- we gave more love, wisdom, and leadership?
1 day ago
KIRO Radio staff

Mayfield: How scared of the omicron variant should we actually be?

The omicron variant is stranding travelers and rattling markets. It just sounds scary, but what if we're getting ahead of ourselves?
2 days ago
Wuhan, COVID, market...
MyNorthwest Staff

UW Medicine’s head of Virology: Live market ‘more likely the start’ of COVID

Scientists have been trying to trace the actual origins of the virus that causes COVID, to find if it came from a market, a lab, or somewhere else.
3 days ago
MyNorthwest Staff

Study determines the ideal time to sleep based on biological clock

Is there a specific time when you should be going to sleep? Mercer Island MD Dr. Gordon Gohen explains the results of a study from the United Kingdom.
4 days ago
downtown seattle...
Dave Ross

Ross: Seattle’s next mayor promises a drier downtown experience

Yes, people want to be safe downtown, but they would also like to be able to go from store to store in November and December without getting soaked.
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
What happened to Seattle’s ‘Pineapple Express?’ Enter, the ‘atmospheric river’