Ridiculously Resilient Ridge

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The Ridiculously Resilient Ridge, here depicted by cool-season seasonal geopotential height anomalies (November–March) during 2012–2015. Adapted from [1]

The "Ridiculously Resilient Ridge", sometimes shortened to "Triple R" or "RRR", is the nickname given to a persistent anticyclone that occurred over the far northeastern Pacific Ocean, contributing to the 2011–2017 California drought. The "Ridiculously Resilient Ridge" nickname was originally coined in December 2013 by Daniel Swain on the Weather West Blog,[2] but has since been used widely in popular media[3][4][5][6][7][8][9] as well as in peer-reviewed scientific literature.[10][1][11][12][13][14]


The Ridiculously Resilient Ridge was characterized by a broad region of anomalously positive geopotential height on monthly to annual timescales. This persistent high pressure system acted to "block" the prevailing mid-latitude westerlies, shifting the storm track northward and suppressing extratropical cyclone (winter storm) activity along the West Coast of the United States. Such a pattern is similar to—but of greater magnitude and longevity than—atmospheric configurations noted during previous California droughts.[11]


This anomalous atmospheric feature disrupted the North Pacific storm track during the winters of 2012/13, 2013/14, 2014/15, resulting in extremely dry and warm conditions in California and along much of the West Coast.[10] The Ridge comprised the western half of a well-defined atmospheric ridge-trough sequence associated with an unusually amplified "North American winter dipole" pattern, which brought persistent anomalous cold[15] and precipitation to the eastern half of North America in addition to record-breaking warmth and drought conditions in California.

This ridge of high pressure was also associated with a blob of high water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean,[16] which resulted in substantial warming along the western coast of North America as well as adverse ecological impacts.[17][18] However, it is generally thought that "The Blob" of warm ocean water was caused by the persistence of the ridge and subsequent reduction in vertical ocean mixing due to storms,[16] rather than the reverse. On the other hand, recent research suggests that unusual oceanic warmth in the western tropical Pacific Ocean may have played a role in triggering and maintaining the Triple R over successive seasons.[19][12] High amplitude atmospheric ridge patterns similar to the Triple R have occurred more frequently in recent decades[11] and there is evidence that the occurrence of persistent North Pacific geopotential height anomalies[10] and anomalously dry California winters,[20] will increase due to global warming, although uncertainty remains regarding the magnitude of these future changes.[21][22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Swain, Daniel L. (2015). "A tale of two California droughts: Lessons amidst record warmth and dryness in a region of complex physical and human geography". Geophysical Research Letters. 42 (22): 9999–10, 003. doi:10.1002/2015GL066628. ISSN 1944-8007.
  2. ^ "The extraordinary California dry spell continues: 2013 will probably be the driest year on record". Archived from the original on 2014-10-02. Retrieved 2014-09-27.
  3. ^ Radio, Southern California Public (2015-10-12). "'Ridiculously Resilient Ridge' retires, making room for rain". Southern California Public Radio. Archived from the original on 2023-11-02. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  4. ^ Graff, Amy; SFGATE (2017-12-04). "High-pressure ridge settles along West Coast: Is it ever going to rain again?". SFGate. Archived from the original on 2019-11-12. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  5. ^ Samenow, Jason (2018-10-02). "A massive, historic high-pressure zone is bringing freakishly nice weather to Alaska". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on 2019-07-10. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  6. ^ Fountain, Henry (2018-02-13). "A Hot, Dry Winter in California. Could It Be Drought Again?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2019-11-12. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  7. ^ Gokey, Monica; Anchorage, KSKA- (2015-05-20). "'Ridiculously Resilient Ridge' Returns This Winter". Alaska Public Media. Archived from the original on 2019-11-12. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  8. ^ "The RRR 'Ridiculously Resilient Ridge' Returns to California | Weather Extremes". Weather Underground. Archived from the original on 2019-11-12. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  9. ^ "'The Blob' Is Back: Here's What It Could Mean for Lower 48". The Weather Channel. Archived from the original on 2019-11-13. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  10. ^ a b c "The Extraordinary California Drought of 2013/14: Character, Context, and the Role of Climate Change" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-04-17. Retrieved 2015-03-15.
  11. ^ a b c Diffenbaugh, Noah S.; Singh, Deepti; Horton, Daniel E.; Swain, Daniel L. (2016-04-01). "Trends in atmospheric patterns conducive to seasonal precipitation and temperature extremes in California". Science Advances. 2 (4): e1501344. doi:10.1126/sciadv.1501344. ISSN 2375-2548. PMC 4820386. PMID 27051876.
  12. ^ a b Swain, Daniel L.; Singh, Deepti; Horton, Daniel E.; Mankin, Justin S.; Ballard, Tristan C.; Diffenbaugh, Noah S. (2017). "Remote Linkages to Anomalous Winter Atmospheric Ridging Over the Northeastern Pacific". Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. 122 (22): 12, 194–12, 209. doi:10.1002/2017JD026575. ISSN 2169-8996.
  13. ^ Anderson, Bruce T.; Gianotti, Daniel J. S.; Furtado, Jason C.; Lorenzo, Emanuele Di (2016). "A decadal precession of atmospheric pressures over the North Pacific". Geophysical Research Letters. 43 (8): 3921–3927. doi:10.1002/2016GL068206. ISSN 1944-8007.
  14. ^ He, Xiaogang; Wada, Yoshihide; Wanders, Niko; Sheffield, Justin (2017). "Intensification of hydrological drought in California by human water management". Geophysical Research Letters. 44 (4): 1777–1785. doi:10.1002/2016GL071665. hdl:1874/353391. ISSN 1944-8007.
  15. ^ Lipman, Don (2015). "Boston's 2015 Snow Blitz: How Did It Compare?". Weatherwise. 68 (5): 30–36. doi:10.1080/00431672.2015.1067109. S2CID 193635159.
  16. ^ a b Bond, Nicholas A.; Cronin, Meghan F.; Freeland, Howard; Mantua, Nathan (2015). "Causes and impacts of the 2014 warm anomaly in the NE Pacific". Geophysical Research Letters. 42 (9): 3414–3420. doi:10.1002/2015GL063306. ISSN 1944-8007.
  17. ^ Peterson, William T.; Fisher, Jennifer L.; Strub, P. Ted; Du, Xiuning; Risien, Craig; Peterson, Jay; Shaw, C. Tracy (2017). "The pelagic ecosystem in the Northern California Current off Oregon during the 2014–2016 warm anomalies within the context of the past 20 years". Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans. 122 (9): 7267–7290. doi:10.1002/2017JC012952. ISSN 2169-9291. PMC 7668311. PMID 33204583.
  18. ^ Zhu, Zhi; Qu, Pingping; Fu, Feixue; Tennenbaum, Nancy; Tatters, Avery O.; Hutchins, David A. (2017-07-01). "Understanding the blob bloom: Warming increases toxicity and abundance of the harmful bloom diatom Pseudo-nitzschia in California coastal waters". Harmful Algae. 67: 36–43. doi:10.1016/j.hal.2017.06.004. ISSN 1568-9883. PMID 28755719.
  19. ^ Teng, Haiyan; Branstator, Grant (2017). "Causes of Extreme Ridges That Induce California Droughts". Journal of Climate. 30 (4): 1477–1492. doi:10.1175/jcli-d-16-0524.1.
  20. ^ Berg, Neil; Hall, Alex (2015). "Increased Interannual Precipitation Extremes over California under Climate Change". Journal of Climate. 28 (16): 6324–6334. doi:10.1175/jcli-d-14-00624.1.
  21. ^ Seager, Richard; Hoerling, Martin; Schubert, Siegfried; Wang, Hailan; Lyon, Bradfield; Kumar, Arun; Nakamura, Jennifer; Henderson, Naomi (2015). "Causes of the 2011–14 California Drought". Journal of Climate. 28 (18): 6997–7024. doi:10.1175/jcli-d-14-00860.1. S2CID 37382483.
  22. ^ "'Ridiculously Resilient Ridge,' Climate Change and the Future of California's Water". Water Education Foundation. Archived from the original on 2019-11-12. Retrieved 2019-11-12.