Watch the "Pineapple Express" make its way from Hawaii to the West Coast.

Last week, California saw something it hasn't seen for a shockingly long time: rain. And snow. The precipitation was not enough to end the drought that has, for the past three years, turned the Golden State into a toasty shade of brown ... but it was something.

The injection of moisture came courtesy of the "Pineapple Express," a jet of moist air flowing to California from Hawaii. Such an atmospheric river sent from the tropics is not always something to be celebrated: The system tends to bring heavy rainfall and fierce winds. And this particular Pineapple Express, true to form, brought flooding and wind damage along with it. But it also brought moisture! Some 4 to 8 inches of it! Which, given a drought that some are saying could be California's worst in 500 years, is something.

In the animation above, which accounts for data captured between February 7 and February 9, 2014, you can watch the Pineapple Express come into contact with California. The video features a compilation of visible and infrared images taken from NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental satellite. It presents a sweeping view of the little present Hawaii gave to California last week—a brief "reprieve" from the ongoing dryness. Here's to more such tropical gifts. As Bill Patzert, a climatologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, told PhysOrg: "Our drought recovery in the West depends on the Pineapple connection."

This post originally appeared on The Atlantic.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of Los Angeles in 1962
    Transportation

    Mapping the Effects of the Great 1960s ‘Freeway Revolts’

    Urbanites who battled the construction of the Interstate Highway System in the 1960s saved some neighborhoods—but many highways did transform cities.

  2. A man and a woman shop at a modern kiosk by a beach in a vintage photo.
    Design

    Why Everyday Architecture Deserves Respect

    The places where we enact our daily lives are not grand design statements, yet they have an underrated charm and even nobility.

  3. a photo of a small fleet of electric Chevrolet Bolts cars.
    Transportation

    Should Electric Vehicle Drivers Pay Per Mile?

    Since EV drivers zip past gas taxes, they don’t contribute to the federal fund for road maintenance. A new working paper tries to determine whether plug-ins should pay up.

  4. Transportation

    Why Public Transportation Works Better Outside the U.S.

    The widespread failure of American mass transit is usually blamed on cheap gas and suburban sprawl. But the full story of why other countries succeed is more complicated.

  5. A photo of anti-gentrification graffiti in Washington, D.C.
    Equity

    The Hidden Winners in Neighborhood Gentrification

    A new study claims the effects of neighborhood change on original lower-income residents are largely positive, despite fears of spiking rents and displacement.

×