Atmospheric rivers (ARs) as massive and concentrated water vapour paths can have a critical impact on extreme events in arid and semi-arid areas. This study investigated the effect of ARs on heavy precipitation events during the cold, rainy months (November–April) in Iran for 11 years. The results showed that 107 ARs had an influence on heavy precipitation, which providing partial moisture for Iran's precipitation. On average, 11 heavy precipitation days were linked to the presence of ARs in the six cold months of each year. During the study period, ARs accounted for almost 20–50% of the country's total heavy precipitation monthly. Although most ARs entered the country from the south through coastal areas, the western part of Iran, especially elevated stations along the western slope of the Zagros Mountains, received the highest heavy precipitation. Accordingly, about 66% of ARs directly originated from the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Moreover, December experienced the highest frequency of ARs linked to heavy precipitation during the statistical period.