'Atmospheric river' will deluge Washington state, Oregon

PHOTO: Dark, threatening clouds loom over downtown just prior to a heavy rainstorm in Portland, Ore., Oct. 11, 2017.PlayDon Ryan/AP
WATCH California anticipates much-needed rain this week after catastrophic wildfires

A 5,000-mile conveyor belt of moisture called an atmospheric river has developed in the air over the Pacific Ocean, spanning from Asia to North America.

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Over the next several days, storms will move along this belt, bringing more than a foot of rain to parts of western Washington and northern Oregon and several feet of snow to the Cascade mountains. Gusty winds with these storms could reach 50 to 60 mph.

PHOTO: A so-called Atmospheric River could dump rain on parts of Oregon and Washington state this week.ABC News
A so-called Atmospheric River could dump rain on parts of Oregon and Washington state this week.

PHOTO: Western Storm - through Friday.ABC News
Western Storm - through Friday.

The National Weather Service has issued flood watches and high wind warnings for Washington state and Oregon.

An atmospheric river is a narrow but a long plume of moisture in the atmosphere, hundreds of miles wide and several thousand miles long. Atmospheric rivers transport up to half the West Coast’s precipitation each year during the rainy season, from October to April.

A single atmospheric river can carry more water than the earth's largest river, the Amazon.

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