A stragne and wonderful day

Many strange1  and wonderful sights were seen yesterday; I could feel the excitement out there as one cloud  microstructural mystery after another regaled our Catalina skies.

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7:24 AM. Here, a tiny highlighted flake of Altocumulus floating above a mass of light snow/ice crystals, maybe straight below it. This is one the classic mysteries we deal with in “cloud microstructure”;  the oddity of nature preferring to generate a droplet before an ice crystal at least to somewhere in the -30°s C. Liquid clouds often are at the top of Altostratus and Nimbostratus (rainy or snowy days) providing the tops aren’t too much colder than -30° C. How strange is it to have liquid water at the lowest temperatures in a cloud system, with all the ice and snow underneath, as shown in this photo (though here they are no longer connected).
7:24 AM/ I think there is itty bitty droplet cloud at the very top bright dot there.
7:24 AM/ I think there is itty bitty droplet cloud at the very top bright dot there.  A droplet cloud was likely much broader to have produced all the ice we see below that bright dot of liquid cloud.
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7:26 AM. Looking afar, to the SW, there’s what appears to be an Altocumulus (droplet cloud) with a few ice crystals underneat it, especially to the right.

How cold are these clouds?  Lets look at the TUS sounding, launched at about 3:30 AM yesterday morning.

The TUS rawinsonde balloon data for yesterday morning before dawn.
The TUS rawinsonde balloon data for yesterday morning before dawn.  That Altocumulus layer, and the other clouds above were likely at the pinched point above, topping out at -27°C and up around 23,000 feet above sea level (400 millibars), pretty darn cold.  But, as you saw in the 3rd photo, not a lot of ice is being generated at this temperature by that patch of Altocumulus clouds to the SW.  Not sure why, but its pretty remarkable and that is likely due to small droplet sizes AND a lack of ice nuclei, most of which are known to originate with soil particles  When you see these rare occurrences of all or mostly droplet clouds at low temperatures (<-20° C in particular, get ready to see hole punch and ice canals produced by aircraft, a kind of inadvertent cloud seeding.

That bank of Altocumulus was racing at more than 50 mph toward Catalina, and so it got here in a hurry.    And, as it got closer, it was also getting more into some airways at that height, possibly descents into PHX since the height of those clouds was below normal jet cruising levels at 23,000 feet Above Sea Level.

7:55 AM. This is one of the strangest sights I have ever seen. Why? On the left side of this photo, the clouds are completely glaciated, composed of ice, while along a line to the right, there's no sign of ice in Altocumulus clouds that appear to be at the same height (namely, temperature). I have no explanation for this scene, except those involving a lot hand-waving, so we'll just let go.
7:55 AM. This is one of the strangest sights I have ever seen. Why? On the left side of this photo, the clouds are completely glaciated, composed of ice, while along a line to the right, there’s no sign of ice in Altocumulus clouds that appear to be at the same height (namely, temperature). I have no explanation for this scene, except those involving a lot hand-waving, so we’ll just let go, except that we speculate that the Ac layer was a little lower (warmer)?  Could have been.

Now for the aircraft effects.  Hardly a few minutes go by before aircraft began marking up this cold Altocumulus layer.  Notice that it doesn’t seem to be producing much or any ice on its own, making aircraft inadvertent seeding lines and holes where tremendous numbers of ice crystals are generated immediately present.   Here’s the first of many:

8:16 AM. An icy canal due to the passage of an aircraft rips through this pristine layer of Altocumulus whose temperature was around -25° C.
8:16 AM. An icy canal due to the passage of an aircraft rips through this pristine layer of Altocumulus whose temperature was around -25° C.  The view is looking S toward Tucson, but is unlikely to have been an aircraft landing there because this layer was above 20,000 feet Above Sea Level.  An aircraft lanidng at TUS would be much lower, this close.  The passage of the aircraft was likely 10 or more minutes before this photo.
8:19 AM. The ice canal is broadening due to turbulence, and ice is not plainly evident to all Cloud Maven Juniors or we will have to go over discerning ice from droplet clouds at the next club meeting.
8:19 AM. The ice canal is broadening due to turbulence, and ice is not plainly evident to all Cloud Maven Juniors or we will have to go over discerning ice from droplet clouds at the next club meeting.
8:20 AM. A view of the northwest end of this aircraft-produced ice canal. Several others became apparent, too.
8:20 AM. A view of the northwest end of this aircraft-produced ice canal. Several others became apparent, too.

Heading for Catalina, this:

9:11 AM. Heading for Catalina, a whole mess of aircraft induced ice in that poor Altocumulus layer. The hole punch was likely due to an aircraft climbing out of or descending into TUS. The age of a hole that large, with ice below it like this would be something of the order of at least half an hour to an hour old. Just behind the hole is a new contrail in the Ac clouds,
9:11 AM. Heading for Catalina, a whole mess of aircraft induced ice in that poor Altocumulus layer. The hole punch was likely due to an aircraft climbing out of or descending into TUS. The age of a hole that large, with ice below it like this would be something of the order of at least half an hour to an hour old. Just behind the hole is a new contrail in the Ac clouds,
9:23 AM. Hole punch area and ice canal arrive over Catalina! Losing control here, taking photo and photo, now looking for stragne optics, usually observed with aircraft produced ice particles because they are so numerous, compete for the available moisture and therefore remain tiny and perfect, prisms, plates, short column ice crystals, ones that can do a lot of optical stuff.
9:23 AM. Hole punch area and ice canal arrive over Catalina! Losing control here, taking photo and photo, now looking for stragne optics, usually observed with aircraft produced ice particles because they are so numerous, compete for the available moisture and therefore remain tiny and perfect, prisms, plates, short column ice crystals, ones that can do a lot of optical stuff.

Here’s the south end of that ice canal:

9:24 AM.
9:24 AM.  Also note iconic horse wind vane, and real wind vane atop a personal weather station.  Doesn’t everyone have a “PWS”?

Looking straight up at the icy heart of a hole punch region caused by an aircraft.  I am sure you have never done this before!  This is gonna be a great blog with all these new things for you!

9:27 AM. Look at the detail in the ice, those fine, fine strands! Amazing. The thickest strand might be due to the higher liquiid water in the heart of one of those little Altocumulus cloudlets. ???
9:27 AM. Look at the detail in the ice, those fine, fine strands! Amazing. The thickest strand might be due to the higher liquiid water in the heart of one of those little Altocumulus cloudlets. ???  Look how much wind shear there is, those little itty bitty ice crystals falling so far behind the parent cloud, the streamers flattening out because the poor little guys, already undersized to begin with, are getting smaller and smaller, the fall velocity getting less and less until the strands are almost horizontal.
9:27 AM. Looking at this gorgeously uniform layer of Altocumulus perlucidus 9honeycomb of elements) translucidus (no shadows).
9:27 AM. Looking at this gorgeously uniform layer of Altocumulus perlucidus 9honeycomb of elements) translucidus (no shadows).  To me this is a phenomenal scene, though maybe to u, not so much, which is understandable.
9:30 AM. The expected intense optical phenomena began to occur in these aircraft contrail remains.
9:30 AM. The expected intense optical phenomena began to occur in these aircraft contrail remains.  Here a parhelia, or sundog.  More fireworks in a bit.
9:30 AM. While the parhelia was in its full display, very intense, this was the ice canal passing overhead. Look at the regular spacing of these strands of ice, Might be due to the spacing of the cloudlets in the Altocumulus layer, the spaces between them not producing much ice, or, as we know, contrails tend to clump behind the aircraft likely due to wingtip vortices interacting and combining masses of exhaust water and crud.
9:30 AM. While the parhelia was in its full display, very intense, this was the ice canal passing overhead. Look at the regular spacing of these strands of ice, Might be due to the spacing of the cloudlets in the Altocumulus layer, the spaces between them not producing much ice, or, as we know, contrails tend to clump behind the aircraft likely due to wingtip vortices interacting and combining masses of exhaust water and crud.   This is now about an hour and fifteen minutes old, since we saw it way out to the west at 8:16 AM shortly after it formed.
9:37 AM. Here's what a new aircraft contrail in these clouds looks like, this one about 60 s old looks like
9:37 AM. Here’s what a new aircraft contrail in these clouds looks like, this one about 60 s old looks like.  Note all the irregularity in the contrail from the get-go.

As the south end of the original ice canal began to enter the refraction zone for simple ice crystals around the sun, usually at the 22° degree halo position, things began to light up with a particularly bright upper tangent arc (more often observed on a halo) or colorful (in this case) partial  “reverse halo”.   The colors (iridescence)  due to the refracting of light within very small ice crystals.   Normally iridescence is seen near the sun in Cirrocumulus clouds or the then edges of other droplet clouds.   Very exciting.

9:44 AM. Halo curving in the wrong direction, away from the sun!
9:44 AM. A partiHalo curving in the wrong direction, away from the sun!
9:44 AM. Taking up you up thousands and thousands of feet via a zoomed view.
9:44 AM. Taking up you up thousands and thousands of feet via a zoomed view.   Pretty cool, eh?  Notice how much its moved in just seconds,  You really have to let your coffee get cold if you’re a photographer and you want to get the best shots of this kind of phenomenon.  You really can’t do anything but keep watching every second!
9:44 AM, again. All these changes took place within the minute between 9:44 and 9:45 AM!
9:44 AM, again. All these changes took place within the minute between 9:44 and 9:45 AM!  Here, the next grouping of ice strands is being lit up.
9:48 AM. Just a pretty scene. Altocumulus perlucidus translucidus, pocked with aircraft contrails, if you look real close.
9:48 AM. Just a pretty scene. Altocumulus perlucidus translucidus, pocked with aircraft contrails, if you look real close.  Make me move:  $1 billion dollars…
9:54 AM. Its not even 10 AM and now this comes along, this fabulously complex zone of CIrrocumulus (at the same level of the Ac clouds) at the tail of the Altocumulus. You can see the much higher Cirrus going crossways, lower center. See TUS sounding for height of Ci.
9:54 AM. Its not even 10 AM and now this comes along, this fabulously complex zone of CIrrocumulus (at the same level of the Ac clouds) at the tail of the Altocumulus. You can see the much higher Cirrus going crossways, lower center. See TUS sounding for height of Ci.

Then this strange sight:

12:29 PM. A row of Altocumulus or Cirrocumulus, each formed by a little upward bump in the atmosphere of a layer just a hair below saturation. Just rising a few hundred feet or so causes these cloudlets to form. Why aren't they everywhere? Might be drier. Bumps like this are always present in the atmosphere, especially if there are mountains upwind.
12:29 PM. A row of Altocumulus or Cirrocumulus, each formed by a little upward bump in the atmosphere of a layer just a hair below saturation. Just rising a few hundred feet or so causes these cloudlets to form. Why aren’t they everywhere? Might be drier. Bumps like this are always present in the atmosphere, especially if there are mountains upwind.  Not taken while driving, of course, ; just looks like it thanks to photoshop.

The day closed out with a lower layer of Altocumulus moving in, this layer, according to the TUS sounding, at “only’ -17° C, and little ice detected.  Below, at 2:09 PM:

2:09 PM. Altocumulus perlucidus translucidus. A natural conversion to ice is occurring on the right side of the photo.
2:09 PM. Altocumulus perlucidus translucidus. A natural conversion to ice is occurring on the right side of the photo.
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4:42 PM. So pretty these Altocu.

 

4:41 PM. A strand of finely patterned Cirrocumulus shot out of the SW as the sun declined.
4:41 PM. A strand of finely patterned Cirrocumulus shot out of the SW as the sun declined.
The Tucson afternoon rawinsonde . launched around 3:30 PM.
The Tucson afternoon rawinsonde . launched around 3:30 PM.  The Cirrocu in the above photo was likely also at the Cirrus level indicated above.

U of AZ mod thinks so light rain will develop around here in the mid-later afternoon.

The End

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1“stragne” above, originally an inadvertent typo, but left in place as another cheap trick to get draw the curiosity of readers who might wonder what stragne is.

A day with rare and regular clouds

Yesterday, whilst disappointingly dry, no rain fell here overnight was a day of rare cloud sightings, most of it involving the rarely seen, “Cumulo-cirrus1“, a cloud fakery situation where extremely cold (less that -40°Ç, -40° F)and clouds at Cirrus levels appear to be ordinary little Cumulus fractus clouds. I hope you weren’t fooled by those impersonators. You’d be pretty embarrassed at the next meeting when we go over yesterday…  Yesterday was, in essence, a test for you, and I hope you passed.

Along with the rare “Cumulo-cirrus” sightings, there were intricate patterns in Cirrocumulus clouds that may have caught you’re eye. However, with the wind aloft being so strong (around 90-100 mph at 18,000 feet) you didn’t have a lot of time to enjoy them.

Yesterday’s clouds

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10:01 AM.  These were the first “Cumulus” pretenders I saw yesterday, though I suppose the discerning eye might have called them “Altocumulus” as well.   When they first formed they look hard and rounded like they might have had cloud droplets.  But then within seconds, that brighter look caused by high concentrations of droplets or tiny ice crystals (sometimes called “germs” because they have no particular shape when just formed) fades as the concentrations decline rapidly due to evaporation and mixing with the dry environmental air around them.   Eventually, they become transparent.  Also notice that you don’t see trails come down out of them.  This is likely because the concentrations are so high that competition for moisture keeps all of the ice crystals so small they can’t really fall out.
10:01 AM. Zooming in.
10:01 AM. Zooming in.  The brighter ones have just formed.  The faded ones are the older ones heading for extinction.  Many more shots of “Cumulo-cirrus” to follow.  Got kind of carried away, as usual.
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10:18 AM. Another moist layer shot in, first showing up as Cirrocumulus, though this cloud was in the middle levels, not at Cirrus heights. The fine granulation makes it look higher than it really is. This was probably around 12, 000 feet above the ground, if that. One giveaway was the rapid movement of the cloud itself, and compared to the cirriform clouds above it. If they are near the same levels, they won’t move much at all relative to one another. Anyway, these patterns changed by the SECOND! It was amazing how quickly they devolved into something completely different.
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10:27 AM. A wid angle view of another incoming group of “Cumulo-cirrus.” The thinnest clouds are the ghostly remains of those clouds. The more compact and brighter ones are the youngest ones.
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10:27 AM. A closeup of a just formed globule. Everything around it was onece like that but now has the visual attributes of regular Cirrus.
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10:42 AM. One of the strangest cloud sights ever seen by yours truly, CMP. Here a layer of Cirrocumulus (note fine patterns lower center) passes rapidly underneath those globules of fake Cumulus clouds full of ice.

Explanatory figure below:

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11:22 AM.  Another patch of fake Cumulus fractus at Cirrus levels comes by.  Note the true Cirrus in the background, and was higher than the fake Cu fra.
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11:36 AM. Was beside myself seeing this! Just incredible!
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11:38 AM. Just two minutes later! Look what has happened to that puff ball of ice. The turbulence up there must have been tremendous.
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11:57 AM. Some real fakery here. Ordinary people would have said, “Oh, those are just little Cumulus fractus over our Catalinas.” But not you. You would have chided them in friendly, gentle way, telling them they were WAY too high for Cumulus clouds and are mainly composed of ice, not possible for low Cumulus fractus clouds.   You could have also pointed out that the cloud in the upper part of this photos were way below those Cumulus fakeries, and that they about to obscure them as this encroaching  layer slid underneath them.  Also, try not to be condescending, act superior like you know so much even though you do.  You might lose your friend if you do that.
11:53 AM. Another zoomed view of one of those icy puff balls, not long after it formed.
11:53 AM. Another zoomed view of one of those icy puff balls, not long after it formed.
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4:01 PM. Altocumulus opacus underneath a Cirrostratus layer. A great sunset was in the works with that opening to the southwest. Also notice, no ice or virga evident. Guess that the temperature at the tops of this layer, likely only a couple of hundred meters thick, is warmer than -10° C.
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5:31 PM. Altocumulus opacus at sunset. The height of this layer was about 8,000 feet above Catalina by the TUS sounding, top temperature about -5° C. “No virga, no cry,” as Bob Marley said.

The End

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1Though it fits, I made this cloud name up.  Probably would be Cirrus floccus, maybe Cirrus castellanus in the humped up cases.

Storm disappoints with only 0.10 inches in Catalina

Oh, well.  Was expecting at least 0.25 inches a few days ago, and thought maybe a heavy shower last night might pull that expectation out of the trash bucket.  Monthly total now up to 0.70 inches (updated after reading NWS-style and CoCo gauges here), still significantly below average (0.96 inches). Not much else elsewhere, either.  Double dang.

Mostly Cumulus humilis and flat Stratocumulus yesterday.   Was looking for ice as the temperatures aloft cooled during the afternoon and evening, and only as the sun went down was a slight bit of virga visible to the west.  That Stratocu deck over us was deepening upward, and began reaching the magic point where ice begins to form, probably around or a little below -10° C (14 °F)  in clouds such as yesterday’s.  Let’s look at a sounding from the U of AZ (as displayed by IPS MeteoStar) and see what it says about those evening clouds and see if the above is just a bunch of hooey (I haven’t seen it yet, either):

The TUS sounding launched about 3:30 PM from the University of AZ campus. Suggests the cloudy air on that side of the mountains was indeed reaching to -10° C and likely a hair lower in the slightly higher cloud tops. Our tops especially a bit later and being a little northwest of there, were surely a bit colder.
The TUS sounding launched about 3:30 PM from the University of AZ campus. Suggests the cloudy air on that side of the mountains was indeed reaching to -10° C and likely a hair lower in the slightly higher cloud tops. Our tops especially a bit later and being a little northwest of there, were surely a bit colder.

Yesterday’s clouds

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9:31 AM. Nice scruff of maybe Stratocumulus lenticularis topped Ms Lemmon, and indication of the lower level moistening that took place overnight with a dry front going by, with another one on the doorstep.  Gee, camera lens is dirty.
2:45 PM. Not much going on, just a few Cu hum, "two riders were approaching and the (cold) wind began to howl." Bob Dylan, from "All Along the Watchtower" by Jimmi Hendrix.
2:45 PM. Not much going on, just a few Cu hum, “two riders were approaching and the (cold) wind began to howl.” Bob Dylan, in “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimmi Hendrix.   Nobel Laureate Bob wrote a LOT of songs about weather!
The Mighty Fraidy Cat Zeus, waiting for the weather to change, the clouds to fill in. Today's blog is particularly boring so thought I would spice it up with a horse that saw a tire up against a horse fence, twirled around and at a full sprint, as though being chased by a Tyrannosaurus rex, plowed into a clump of tall cat claw acacias and mesquite bushes. CMP came off in the midst of them, racking up a broken rib, and a lot of scratches, and with all that blood on his long sleeved shirt, walking Zeus back, also racked up quite a few "man points" by passersby. Well, there was one passerby who didn't seem to notice as they drove by and I had to scream, "I'm OK! Its nothing, really!"
2:47 PM.   The Mighty Fraidy Cat Zeus, waiting for the weather to change, the Cumulus clouds to fill in. Today’s blog is particularly boring so thought I would spice it up with a [icture of a large (16.2 hands) horse that saw a tire leaning up against a horse fence, twirled around and at a full sprint, as though being chased by a Tyrannosaurus rex, plowed into a clump of tall cat claw acacias and mesquite bushes.   The first second of that bolt was really exciting and fun, the second second, not so much.  CMP  was knocked off in the midst of them, racking up a broken rib, and a lot of scratches that bled profusely.  However,  with all that blood on his long sleeved shirt as he walked the mighty Zeus back to his corral, also chalked up quite a few “man points” when passersby saw him, I am sure.    Well, there was one passerby who didn’t seem to notice as he drove by and I had to scream, “I’m OK! Its nothing, really!”
2:48 PM. Nice lighting. I don't know how many hundreds of these shots I have posted here. I just never get tired of sunlight and shadows on our mountains!
2:48 PM. Nice lighting. I don’t know how many hundreds of these shots I have posted here. I just never get tired of sunlight and shadows on our mountains!  Clouds still not doing anything, but its only been a minute since the last report.
3:11 PM. Now we're talking! Those Cumulus clouds are beginning to expand, fill in, transitioning to a Stratocumulus broken to overcast sky, a Stratocast, as expected as the next front and trough approached. This was exciting.
3:11 PM. Now we’re talking! Those Cumulus clouds are beginning to expand, fill in, transitioning to a Stratocumulus broken to overcast sky, a Stratocast (nomenclature unrelated to Fender guitars), as expected as the next front and trough approached. This was exciting.  But when will the ice form in them  to give us the first virga and precip?
3:53 PM. Looking SW over the Oro Valley. This is really looking good. In situations like this, the clouds are forming as they travel upslope toward the Catalinas, and while they're not preciping now, its fairly common in the situation we had yesterday for them to start preciping as the tops get chillier and chillier, often with the clearing remaining in place to the SW. That's what I thought might happen. Things were changing fast at this time.
3:53 PM. Looking SW over the Oro Valley. This is really looking good. In situations like this, the clouds are forming as they travel upslope toward the Catalinas, and while they’re not preciping now, its fairly common in the situation we had yesterday for them to start preciping as the tops get chillier and chillier, often with the clearing remaining in place to the SW. That’s what I thought might happen. Things were changing fast at this time.
5:15 PM. Virga and light precip were occurring on the horizon NW-NE, and these heavier Stratocu began to virga a few minutes after this. The anticipation? A nice period of light to moderate rain during the early nighttime hours as this deepening and filling in continued. That didn't really happen. The clouds began to rain lightly here, but it didn't measure. It was a another band coming through before midnight that produced the 0.08 inches.
5:15 PM. Virga and light precip were occurring on the horizon NW-NE, and these heavier Stratocu began to virga a few minutes after this. The anticipation? A nice period of light to moderate rain during the early nighttime hours as this deepening and filling in continued.
That didn’t really happen. The clouds began to rain lightly here, but it didn’t measure. It was a another band coming through before midnight that produced the 0.08 inches.
5:24 PM. I know a lot of you like to see pictures of the sun, so I thought I would post one today.
5:24 PM. I know a lot of you like to see pictures of the sun, so I thought I would post one today.  Looks pretty round, a little bigger than usual.  Don’t see any sunspots (defects) on it.  That’s probably good.
5:30 PM. Just after sundown the virga began to emit from this layer just beyond the Tortolitas. Really thought this would lead to a generous rain with continued deepening. Guess that didn't happen.
5:30 PM. Just after sundown the virga began to emit from this layer just beyond the Tortolitas. Really thought this would lead to a generous rain with continued deepening. Guess that didn’t happen.  Probably only the best virga detectors among you saw this little curtains starting to descend from this cloud deck.  I’ve added arrows to where those two patches of virga are.

Still looks like a chance for some light showers before the month closes out, but will be hard to get enough to bring the total to an above average value.  Dang.

Will update my reader on December’s early cold outlook as new information that agrees with my assessment comes in.  Right now, that information is not available.

The End

Snowbirds to be upset by snow and cold in early December

Wasn’t going to blather about clouds and weather for a few days since there wasn’t any, just sit around and wait for those end of November storms to get  here, then regale you with cloudy pictures.

But when I went to the NOAA spaghetti factory just now, I was blown away, beside myself, when I saw those outputs.  Being one of the meteorological sophisticates, I suspect you’ve already trampled these maps.  But, at the risk of being redundant again and again, here are a couple of jaw droppers from last night’s global data with errors input into the computer model at the beginning of the run to see how much the upper level forecasts change.  There are always errors in measurements, they’re not perfect, and so by deliberately putting errors in models, we can see that range of differences in the outcomes.  At first, there are virtually no differences because the errors are tiny.  But over time their effect grows.

In these plots below, when the two colors of crazy lines cluster (red, representing the warmer side of the jet stream,  and blue, the colder side) , it means the errors had little effect, and the forecast of a general pattern on the jet stream is one you can have great confidence in.

Below, a forecast via the “errorful ensembles” to be alliterative there for a second,  in which the confidence can be quite high showing that a gigantic cold trough will sit atop most of the western US in the coming 9-12 days.  Really, these are incredible:

Valid at 5 PM AST December 2nd. A massive pile of cold air is bound to be planted on top of the West with low temperatures and freezing levels by this time. Should make quite the news stories I would think when this comes around.
Valid at 5 PM AST December 2nd. A massive pile of cold air is bound to be planted on top of the West with low temperatures and freezing levels by this time. Should make quite the news stories I would think when this comes around.
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Here’s 24 h later, at 5 PM AST, December 3rd. Look at how far the cluster of red lines is to our south, WAY down in southern Baja. Wow. The clusteriing of blue lines in the West and in Arizona suggests a very cold early December is in the bag for us. These maps also show that the SE part of the US will be nice and toasty in comparison.

So, how will it play out?

Well, we already have rather quickly passing cold troughs with their cold fronts ahead in late November,  one that passes late on the 27th  likely to boost our Sutherland Heights precip totals to our average value or above.

Then,  the cold pattern gets amplified by this gargantuan  trough that sets up a few days after those first couple of cold shots, setting the stage for cold and colder blasts.  So the beginning of our cold weather and snowbirds muttering that they came to Arizona too soon,  is just a few days ahead (followed by a “sucker hole” of brief temperature recovery and a few sunny days.   (Well, I might be complaining, too, since cloud maven person, the writer,  moved to Arizona from Seattle to be warm all day,  every day.  haha, sort of.)

On the other hand, there’ll be some great cloud shots in spite of the cold, and you and I, the rest of the cloud people,  will both manage, warmed by the euphoria of being alive with such gorgeous scenes and exciting, changeable weather.

BTW, will close this shot-from-the-hip blog with a forecast of snow in Catalinaland in early December.  That’s right, CMP is expecting measurable snow right here in Catalina.

Remember our slogan, “Right or wrong, you heard it here first!”

“Alive and local”,  CMP

The End

 

 

 

November thunderama

Doesn’t happen every November, thunder, but it sure pounded away at times yesterday.   Seemed louder than usual thunder a few times even with the lightning over there by the Tortolita Mountains. Of course, that’s where the heaviest rain fell as several T-storms tracked along a similar path over there just a little to the W through N of us, Bio2, in one of the heavier cloberations receiving 1.17 inches.

Here, in The Heights, we received a disappointing, but nevertheless welcomed final total of 0.24 inches.  This brings our total here in Sutherland Heights for November up to 0.60 inches.  Average is 0.96 inches1.  Here, the regional totals as the storm was coming to an end:

"Us" is here in the Sutherland Heights; "Them" is Bio2. Wanted to reflect the general world situation now days by using an oft used cliché.
“Us” is here in the Sutherland Heights; “Them” is Bio2. Wanted to reflect the general world situation now days by using oft used cliché terms.

As is proper, let us begin examining the nubilations of our storm by looking at those clouds that preceded the actual rain day yesterday.

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7:02 AM. This pretty sunrise over the Catalina features a couple of flakes of Altocumulus clouds, and a vast layer of Altostratus.
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7:04 AM. Yes, the sun is coming up, though really its the earth rotating toward the sun. The sun does not go around the earth every day; it only SEEMS that way. We’re looking at the same two cloud generas, btw. Nice rays produced by pretty regular humps in clouds over the horizon, a little row of Altocumulus castellanus might cause these rays/shadows.
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7:05 AM. This was pretty interesting, to use “pretty” again. This would be an Altostratus mammatus. Men often find this formation especially interesting and pretty. Here you can also see how a cloud protuberance can produce a shadow. But why is there only one feature like this? Typically mammatus are like upside down Cumulus turrets representing  downward moving cloudy, in this case, air filled with ice crystals).   Adjacent to this feature, the ice crystals and snowflakes are just settling out.   As the moving downward air in mammatus features slows, these breast-like globules open up and you’ll have ordinary virga. The ice crystals are typically rather small and not rimed (that is, have not collided with cloud droplets) or they would fall out and not be constrained to this pretty,  rounded shape.
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7:07 AM. The underside of the Altostratus is lit up, showing the detailed areas of virga. Altostratus, by definition, is a precipitating cloud. Its just that the bases are too high for the precip (snow) to get to the ground, though sprinkles could occur in the thicker, deeper versions. When and if it starts to rain steadily, the cloud is better termed a “Nimbostratus,”
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11:20 AM. The Altostratus deck departed with its pretty mammatus and virga, leaving great examples of Altocumulus opacus clouds most of the morning and into the early afternoon.
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3:24 PM. An example of Altostratus translucidues doesn’t get better than this.  Hope you captured it.  The As  (abbrev. for “Altostratus”) cloud over took over by mid-afternoon as the moist layer deepened again following the Altocu. Tops of this all ice Altostratus layer, in spite of being able to make out  (“discern,” not “make out” in the social sense of the phrase–still thinking about that mammatus formation) the sun’s position, are usually around Cirrus levels, the top of the troposphere.  The TUS sounding suggested “bases” (actually where the ice crystals are evaporating rather than droplets that comprise the bases of Cumulus, Altocumulus or other droplet clouds) at 14,000 feet ASL, and tops around 34,000 feet ASL  Subtract about 3 kft to get heights above the ground here in Catalina.

 

Moving ahead to yesterday…..

7:13 AM. With an approaching upper level trough and big low center in the Great Basin, the winds had become gusty, and the clouds had lowered to Stratocumulus status, topping the Catalinas. I thought the lighting was really pretty here, and that shaft out there shows that turrets are climbing shooting up well beyond the general tops of the shallow Stratocu. Pretty exciting since it meant that the tops of other Stratocu might bunch into other Cumulonimbus clouds, which is what that shaft tells you.
7:13 AM. With an approaching upper level trough and big low center in the Great Basin, the winds had become gusty, and the clouds had lowered to Stratocumulus status, topping the Catalinas. I thought the lighting was really pretty here, and that shaft out there shows that turrets are climbing shooting up well beyond the general tops of the shallow Stratocu. Pretty exciting since it meant that the tops of other Stratocu might bunch into other Cumulonimbus clouds, which is what that shaft tells you.
8:18 AM. A line of Cumulonimbus quickly erupted and it looked like it was about to crash into the Oro Valley Catalina area, but instead stayed to the west over the Tortolitas.
8:18 AM. A line of Cumulonimbus quickly erupted and it looked like it was about to crash into the Oro Valley Catalina area, but instead stayed to the west over the Tortolitas.  Thunder heard!
8:19 AM. Looking WNW toward the Tortolitas.
8:19 AM. Looking WNW toward the Tortolitas.
9:27 AM. After some light showers passed along the Catalinas, this pretty scene. Note the glistening rocks that added such pretty highlights.
9:27 AM. As some light showers passed along the Catalinas, this pretty scene the sun broke through.  Note the glistening rocks that added such pretty highlights.
9:28 AM. Pretty nice over toward the Gap, too! I will never get tired of these scenes!
9:28 AM. Pretty nice over toward the Gap, too! I will never get tired of these scenes!
11:12 AM. Disappointingly, in view of all the rain predicted here (0.575 inches) that first line of Cumulonimbus clouds stayed stayed west of Catalina.
11:12 AM. Disappointingly, in view of all the rain predicted here (0.575 inches) that first line of Cumulonimbus clouds stayed stayed west of Catalina.  But, that line of Cumulus or Stratocumulus clouds on the horizon is full of stormy portent, that a windshift line might be about to strike and generate another line of Cumulonimbus clouds.  Any solid line of clouds like that, kind of by itself, suggests a windshift; it more than just a fair weather “cloud street.”
11:11 AM. Zooming in on that line of clouds. Its fun to zoom, since you are in a way, flying toward what you're looking at, getting so much closer!
11:11 AM. Zooming in on that line of clouds. Its fun to zoom, since you are in a way, flying toward what you’re looking at, getting so much closer! I wish that line of clouds was here already!

 

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11:27 AM. Yep, there it goes, fattening upward into Cumulus congestus and to the N, Cumulonimbus clouds! This one will surely blast across Catalina as the upper trough and associated cold front approach; heck, maybe that’s the cold front windshift line and temprature drop right there!
11:27 AM. Yep, there it goes, fattening upward into Cumulus congestus and to the N, Cumulonimbus clouds! This one will surely blast across Catalina as the upper trough and associated cold front approach; heck, maybe that's the cold front windshift line and temprature drop right there!
11:27 AM. Yep, there it goes, fattening upward into Cumulus congestus and to the N, Cumulonimbus clouds! This one will surely blast across Catalina as the upper trough and associated cold front approach; heck, maybe that’s the cold front windshift line and temprature drop right there! Repeated for emphasis.
11:29 AM. A Cumulonimbus cloud is a bit farther north in this line.
11:29 AM. A Cumulonimbus cloud is a bit farther north in this line.  This HAS to be the windshift and cold front!
11:46 AM. Was inside for a few minutes (18) and that cloud line just exploded over there. Here looking again toward the Tortolitas. But surely they will wall out and crash the sunny party in Oro Valley (I was thinking).
11:46 AM. Was inside for a few minutes (18) and that cloud line just exploded over there. Here looking again toward the Tortolitas. But surely they will wall out and crash the sunny party in Oro Valley (I was thinking).
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11:52 AM. Well, these followup Cumulonimbus clouds aren’t looking so great, no evidence of strong turreting, weak and leaning, wispy, frail, “indolent”, cloud “couch potatoes.” Hope fading for a big shafting here in The Heights
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12:12 PM. The cloud line, as expected is progressing across Oro Valley, but shafting is meager. Its real windy, though, adding some drama. Gusts to 40 mph! Note however the weak shafting, as evidenced by a slope across the whole thing; no heavy, large particles falling out of this guy as we see in those vertical summer shafts. Indicates that the tops are getting very high, producing lots of condensate. So even here, with a nice dramatic scene, you’re thinking (to put words in your brain) that its going to be a disappointment in rain production, and you might be missed altogether!
12:24 PM. It was pretty much all over 12 min later, that is, the chances for a real shafting. A well formed Cumulus congestus base formed just upwind of Catalina, but as so many do, slipped a little east before reaching Cumulonimbus stage and unloaded on the Catalina foothills NE of Catalina. Sometime, when clouds like this are overhead and show no precip, it just can dump out of the black. But, it didn't happen yesterday.
12:24 PM. It was pretty much all over 12 min later, that is, the chances for a real shafting. A well formed Cumulus congestus base formed just upwind of Catalina, but as so many do, slipped a little east before reaching Cumulonimbus stage and unloaded on the Catalina foothills NE of Catalina. Sometime, when clouds like this are overhead and show no precip, it just can dump out of the black. But, it didn’t happen yesterday.  By now, the wind had shifted, the temperature was falling, and soon, the light to briefly moderate rain fell as the cold front went by.
DSC_9428
1:14 PM. By this time, you could pick up a couple of nice photos of just Stratocumulus clouds following the passage of the front. Here we see some indications of mammatus formations (upper center, right) in a droplet cloud, an extremely rare event since droplets evaporate so much faster in downward moving air that the pouches represent. One can surmise that those pouches may have contained higher amounts of liquid water, and the downdrafts were very slight.  OK, so we’re kind of fixated on mammatus today….  No apologies; I’m just a man.

The great thing about yesterday was that because the upper trough lagged so much behind the cold front, you could be sure it wasn’t over, that is, the rain chances.  In fact, as the wind turns aloft from a southerly or southwesterly direction to a more westerly one, we here in Catalina have a better chance of having the clouds pile up over us, even if they’re not full fledged Cumulonimbus clouds, they can still reach depths where they precipitate while upwind, they don’t because they may not be deep enough.   The Catalina Mountains provides the lift that helps do this, and we saw that happen later in the afternoon and evening when it began to rain again long after the cold front and it so-so rain band went by.

3:06 PM. Starting to look more favorable for rain and the clouds began to cluster after the boring spell of Stratocumulus except for the brief display of pretty mammatus.
3:06 PM. Starting to look more favorable for rain and the clouds began to cluster after the boring spell of Stratocumulus except for the brief display of pretty mammatus.  The air aloft was getting a little colder, too, helping the Cumulus clouds deepen upward in spite of cool temperatures following the front.  This view is looking upwind to pal Mark Albright’s house there in Continental Ranch, Marana.  Mark is a fellow U of WA research meteorologist, though he hasn’t thrown in the towel yet, is still working.
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3:34 PM. Even as the clouds filled in and the light showers began, some pretty highlights were observed where the sun peaked through holes in the overcast. Here, Eagle Crest to the north of The Heights is spotlighted. If you are a resident of Eagle Crest and you would like a copy of this photo entitled, “Spotlight on Eagle Crest”, you can get one today for $1200, If you call now, you can get two for $2400.
5:25 PM. FInally, as the light rain fell, adding a few more hundredths to our total, sunset occurred! You can see it WAS raining by the drop on the camera lens, I didn't just say it was raining because I wanted it to. Note the lack of shafts. This tells you the tops of the clouds are pretty uniform, not protruding much above us. The rain was "pretty" steady, another indication that the clouds are relatively uniform in the horizontal.
5:25 PM. FInally, as the light rain fell, adding a few more hundredths to our total, sunset occurred! You can see it WAS raining by the drop on the camera lens, I didn’t just say it was raining because I wanted it to. Note the lack of shafts. This tells you the tops of the clouds are pretty uniform, not protruding much above us. The rain was “pretty” steady, another indication that the clouds are relatively uniform in the horizontal.

The End, FINALLY!

—————–

1If we don’t get more rain by the end of November, I will delete the sentence of a week or so ago stating that November would have above average rainfall.  No use having people see that.

Rain, inches of it, still foretold for Catalina Mountains; and, an inch or more for Catalina itself!

In case you don’t believe me, here’s the model crunch from our very own Banner University of Arizona Weather Department (aka, Hydromet and Atmos Sci Dept).  You can watch the storm play out hour by hour here.

The large totals of rainfall expected by mid-day this Monday, November 21st. This output based on the global data from 5 PM AST last evening.
The large totals of rainfall expected by mid-day this Monday, November 21st. This output based on the global data from 5 PM AST last evening.  As you can see, I hope, Ms. Lemmon is supposed to get over 3 inches!  Wow.  How great would that be? I put some writing on this image to help you understand where you are.

However, as you can see, to throw cold water on such a great prediction, we are in the HEART of a rather narrow band of heavy precip, which raises the uncertaintly level a lot on just how much rain will actually fall.    Somewhere, these days, there is a Gaussian like distribution of the rainfall at point locations so you can see just what the model spread is in the rain predictions, but I haven’t located it and am too lazy to look right now.  If I come up with that, will post it.

So, just as good as that, I will say that measurable rain will fall in Catalina between Sunday evening and mid-day Monday that the least likely amount is 0.15 inches (10% chance of less), which would be a real poop, and the most, 1.00 inches (10% chance of more, a luxuriant rain, washing so much dust off stuff).

The average of those extremes is usually is closer to the actual total, which in this case would be 0.625 (correction! 0.575!  Egad, dividing by 2 is still pretty hard for me) inches at my house.  The idea here is that we meteorologists often know what’s NOT going to happen better than what is,  in the domain of precip forecasts,  and so by starting with extrema, to be erudite there for a second, we can narrow our predictions down, not get too carried away as often happens here.

BTW, if you want really great, professional level forecasting besides that by the TUS NWS , see Bob’s discussions!  He’s always got great stuff.

The first high clouds ought to be arriving later this afternoon.  Have cameras ready.  Should be a nice sunset to go with them since there shouldn’t be a total overcast to the west.

Really looking forward to this rain!

The End

May in November to end; rain dead ahead

Rain?  Cumulative totals predicted here from the University of Arizona Hydro and Weather Dept.  Starts overnight Sunday.  For those too lazy to review the information at the link above, here is a map of the rainfall totals ending at 11 PM, November 21st:

Cum precip through 11-21-2016 11 PM AST

Note that within this swath, Catalina is predicted to get over an inch of rain!  Note that the swath is not very wide.  A wide swath of heavy rain would be one as wide as the State.  So, we have to figure that this is a lucky hit at this time, and count on something less as a virtual certainty since the swath above will move around as new model runs look at it.  Typically, they shift a little east over time in those future model runs.  Hope not.

Have cameras ready for a pretty sunrise.  Lots of high ice clouds up there.

The weather WAY ahead

Spaghetti suggests more rain chances after a several day dry spell following the Monday rains.  Check out the “pretty strong” indications that we are in the trough bowl as the month comes to an end, meaning troughs should be populating Arizona during the last days of November.  In turn, good November rains, and one seems to be in the high confidence pipeline for SE Arizona as a whole, means the spring wildflowers will be given a boost.  I will go on record here as now forecasting, if that’s what this is,  a wetter than normal November rain total1.  Our November average since 1977 is 0.96 inches.

The ensemble or spaghetti plot from the NOAA spaghetti factory from last evening's global data.
The ensemble or spaghetti plot from the NOAA spaghetti factory from last evening’s global data.

The End.

————————-

1This sentence will be deleted in the event of a drier than average November and will, therefore, not be on record.

An interesting day from a cloud modification standpoint, one that doesn’t happen very often

Every once in a great while, we have days where fairly thick clouds do not produce even a sprinkle, even though their tops are a little below  freezing, but not quite cold enough for natural ice to form.  Yesterday was one of those days.

And it was a day you, a cloud maven junior member,  could likely have done something about it:  rented a small plane or helicopter capable of flying up to around 15,000 kft ASL,  taking a bag of commercially available dry ice pellets, then drop them into the fattest, highest Cumulus tops you saw while nipping them in VFR flight mode, and, “violet!”,  ice would have formed along the path of the falling dry ice pellets!

So what were the ingredients that  made yesterday so special for a little renegade cloud seeding?

The clouds that did not rain were pretty thick for ones that didn’t rain naturally, maybe 5,000 to 6,000 thousand feet thick in their maximum “overshooting” tops, and temperatures at top were a little below freezing, but warmer than -10° C.  At lower top temperatures ice would likely have formed naturally.  Here’s the annotated TUS sounding from yesterday afternoon from IPS MeteoStar:

Ann 2016110500Z_SKEWT_KTUS
The 00 Z (5 PM AST) rawinsonde from TUS, typically launched about 3:30 PM AST. The upward pointing arrow shows what the in-cloud temperature would have been like. The lapse rate, from aircraft measurements is virtually never along the “pseudoadiabatic temperature line (one of which is where the horizontal arrow heads are), but somewhere between that and the dry adiabatic temperature lines that show the temperature drop in a rising dry parcel of air (one of which is where the upward pointing arrow begins). Cumulus protrusions carry the boundary layer air from the surface, that air that forms the Cumulus clouds, into the stable,, and warmer overlying air. So, protruding tops sink like a stone; don’t stay long at their lowest temperature, also hurting the chances that ice will form. That’s why you have to do it.

Here’s how it works:  the dry ice pellets, themselves at -72° C, will chill the air it comes in contact with to -40° C, resulting in the formation of jillions of tiny ice crystals in each pellet’s wake, which are then spread over a wider region in the following minutes due to turbulence in the cloud.  In essence, each pellet is creating a tiny,  vertical “contrail” in that cloud, as least in those upper parts of the cloud below freezing.  (Bases yesterday were a little above freezing, around 2° C, while the highest afternoon tops locally appeared to run between -5° and -10° in clouds that were forming in more haze and smoke than usual (wonder if you noticed that?)  Haze and smoke tend to reduce droplet sizes, and in doing that, make it harder to form ice and rain, especially in marginal clouds for that, such as we had yesterday.

What happens next is that the “supercooled” water in the cloud evaporates around those crystals due to the dry ice bombardment, while the crystals take up that evaporated vapor.   When the crystals get large enough, they may collide with some remaining cloud droplets, if there are any around.  Usually all those crystals that have formed will not left too many droplets in their vicinity.

As the crystals grow in size, and because they are in such high concentrations, they will bump into one another and form clusters of ice crystals we call snowflakes.    Cloud Maven Person has, along with Professor Doctor Lawrence F. Radke, the latter the  “Flight Scientist” in those days with the University of Washington Huskies’ Cloud Physics Group1 in the late 1970s,  made snowflakes the size of pie plates (fluffy light ones without a lot of water content) in Cumulus clouds like yesterday’s here.

IMO you would have created not something of much importance, but rather just an annoying sprinkle or very light shower for those out hiking,  horseying around on their horses, biking the trails,  on an otherwise perfect day for outdoor activities.

One of the problems, long known about in such seeding experiments as could have taken place yesterday, is that the cloudy air is moving THROUGH the cloud, exiting at the downwind location.  That is, lower clouds in particular, move SLOWER than the air itself2.

So, you drop some dry ice in a nice turret, the air you dropped it is, along with that turret’s air, will be moving downwind and is going to go out into clear air eventually.    So, if the crystals don’t stay in a turret and upward moving air, but goes out the side of the cloud or into “shelf clouds” like yesterday, those crystals/snowflakes aren’t going to grow much, and will remain “light and fluffy” even though they could be huge because they are like “powder snow” not a lot of water mass in them.   When they melted at cloud base, they might end up being just drizzle-sized drop (less than 500 microns across) or very small raindrops.  So, that’s why you would likely have gotten just a sprinkle or very light rain shower had you done some unlawful, renegade cloud seeding yesterday.  Remember, just like when you hike in the State Land Trust areas, you need a permit to seed legally.

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Yesterday’s clouds

7:02 AM. Tall, but not so tall as to form ice, Cumulus clouds boil up off the Catalinas. Made you think some Cumulonimbus clouds might form later on. They didn't.
7:02 AM. Tall, but not so tall to form ice, Cumulus clouds boil up off the Catalinas. Made you think some Cumulonimbus clouds might form later on. They didn’t.
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10:26 AM. Disorganzied Cumulus still lurking on on the Catalinas, but the main thing here is how much smoke was in the air when you might have been expecting a very clean morning due to the previous evening’s thunderstorms and rains. Very upsetting to this smoky scene.
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10:27 AM. Looking NE at some Cumulus congestus, no ice evident from this view, but I would not rule it out, Forgot to check radar to see if there was an echo with this cloud.
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2:10 PM. By mid-afternoon skies started to look a little threatening with a Cumulus congestus having formed over and extending downwind from the Tortolita Mountains.
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2:14 PM. Looking for ice to appear in the oldest top portions, now evaporating, top of photo. None seen.
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2:39 PM. Someone needs to get up there on top of this Cumulus congestus, drop a little dry ice in it. Nothing came out, though I thought I would feel a drop at any moment! Some sort of birds can be seen, lower right.
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3:19 PM. Looking downwind at part of the base of this Cumulus congestus cloud line that sat over Catalina for awhile. The top has the base, to the left is the “shelf cloud of Stratocumulus spreading out from other tops and drifing downwind. If precip falls out of the shelf cloud, once part of a turret, you can see I hope that it would fall out of a thicker column of dry air.

MDG_0373

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4:01 PM. The scene before a lot writing appears on this photo.
The same photo with a lot of writing on it.
The same photo with a lot of writing on it.

The weather way ahead

While warm weather returns to AZ over the next week to12 days or so, there is now, and this goes with climo, a big trough that barges into all of the West Coast in two weeks.

When I say climo, I mean that there  is a noticeable tendency for this to happen in mid-November in the longterm upper air records so that in some areas of California, for example, there is a modest increase in the chance of rain in mid-month over other times in the month.  These kinds of things in weather are termed, “singularities” like the supposed, “January thaw” back East.  This mid-November annual trough passage may be related to the increasing speed of the jet stream in the Pacific as winter approaches, something that changes the spacing between the troughs.  Pure speculation.

But in any event, be on the lookout for a major change in weather here between the 17th and 20th of November.  Something like this is starting to show up in the models.

The End

———
1Later renamed the Cloud and Aerosol Research Group.

2Something that was  even noticed in small tradewind Cumulus in the Pacific in the 1950s by Joanne Malkus (later, Joanne Simpson) and her colleagues.

Thunderstorms, rain, hail, pummel Catalina finally!

We’ve waited a LONG time for a rain day.  It was so nice, so photogenic as well.   I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Also, you may have seen the Froude Number1 in action as Cumulus congestus and Cumulonimbus clouds developed and went around the sides of the Catalina Mountains instead of developing over them and dumping big shafts of rain on them.  The heaviest rains yesterday were due to streamers of showers and with an OCNL TSTMS that were north and south of us, Oracleville, Bio2 area, and Marana, Avra Valley where over half an inch was logged in some places.

Still , we managed a third of an inch here in Sutherland Heights,  the first appreciable rain since I don’t know when, though,  I could look it up.    Too long, though, even for Catalina.

Some regional totals, 3 AM to 3 AM:
Precipitation Report for the following time periods ending at: 03:19:00  11/04/16
                    
              Data is preliminary and unedited.
              —- indicates missing data
                          
    Gauge     24         Name                        Location
    ID#      minutes    hour        hours      hours        hours
    —-     —-       —-        —-       —-         —-       —————–            ———————
Catalina Area
    1010            0.08      Golder Ranch       Horseshoe Bend Rd in Saddlebrooke
    1020            0.12      Oracle Ranger Stati          approximately 0.5 mi SW of Oracle
    1040            0.08      Dodge Tank                   Edwin Rd 1.3 mi E of Lago Del Oro Parkway
    1050            0.16      Cherry Spring                approximately 1.5 mi W of Charouleau Gap
    1060            0.16      Pig Spring                   approximately 1.1 mi NE of Charouleau Gap
    1070            0.24      Cargodera Canyon             NE corner of Catalina State Park
    1080           0.20      CDO @ Rancho Solano          Cañada Del Oro Wash NE of Saddlebrooke
    1100           0.16      CDO @ Golder Rd              Cañada Del Oro Wash at Golder Ranch Rd

Santa Catalina Mountains
    1030          0.04      Oracle Ridge                 Oracle Ridge, approximately 1.5 mi N of Rice Peak
    1090          0.16      Mt. Lemmon                   Mount Lemmon
    1110          0.16      CDO @ Coronado Camp          Cañada Del Oro Wash 0.3 mi S of Coronado Camp
    1130         0.28      Samaniego Peak               Samaniego Peak on Samaniego Ridge
    1140         0.08      Dan Saddle                   Dan Saddle on Oracle Ridge
    2150         0.16      White Tail                   Catalina Hwy 0.8 mi W of Palisade Ranger Station
    2280         0.04      Green Mountain               Green Mountain
    2290        0.16      Marshall Gulch               Sabino Creek 0.6 mi SSE of Marshall Gulch

Santa Catalina Foothills
    2090         0.04      TV @ Guest Ranch             Tanque Verde Wash at Tanque Verde Guest Ranch
    2100          0.16      DEQ Swan                     Swan Rd at Calle del Pantera
    2160        0.08      Sabino @ USFS Dam            Sabino Creek at USFS Dam
    2170        0.24      Ventana @ Sunrise            Ventana Canyon Wash at Sunrise Rd
    2190        0.16      Al-Marah                     near El Marah on Bear Canyon Rd
    2200        0.04      AC Wash @ TV Bridge   Agua Caliente Wash at Tanque Verde Rd
    2210        0.00      Catalina Boosters            Houghton Road 0.1 mi S of Catalina Highway
    2220        0.04      Agua Caliente Park           Agua Caliente Park
    2230        0.04      El Camino Rinconado          El Camino Rinconado 0.5 mi N of Reddington Rd
    2240        0.04      Molino Canyon                Mt Lemmon Highway near Mile Post 3
    2390       0.24      Finger Rock @ Skyli          Finger Rock Wash at Sunrise Rd

Yesterday’s Clouds

6:50 AM. "Shape of things to come."
6:50 AM. “Shape of things to come1.”  “Nothing could change the Cumulus shapes of things to come” yesterday, to paraphrase here, as evident in this Cumulus shedding ice in the downwind decaying end on the left.
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7:35 AM. Look at this little guy, so full of ice. Another harbinger of the ice-filled clouds about to arise, and with ice, precipitation, snow aloft, graupel (tiny soft snowballs), and even some hail (solid ice). You could guess here from how shallow this Cumulus cloud is that the bases must be at near the freezing level, and tops must be at least as cold as -10° to -15° C, cold for such a small cloud. But what would we call such a small cloud? Cumulus congestus praecipitatio or virgae (since the present of ice absolutely means some precip up there, not likely reaching the ground though. Shoot from the hip estimated depth 2 km, or around six thousand feet.
11:37 AM. Sure enough, as it got warmer, Cumulus congestus/small Cumulonimbus clouds arose trailing ice northwestward in huge plumes of ice. Note to airborne researchers: be sure to sample the older parts of the turrets that have trailed downwind and turned completely to ice even though that trailing portion doesn't look much like a Cumulus cloud. It you only sample the newly risen portions, you will cheat the cloud out of how much ice it can produce since it takes a little time for all the ice to form. Lotta early airborne researchers made this error, reporting too little ice, but, of course, if they were in the cloud seeding business, they wouldn't mind at all since they could report that clouds needed more ice, that from their seeding activities!
11:37 AM. Sure enough, as it got warmer, Cumulus congestus/small Cumulonimbus clouds arose trailing ice northwestward in huge plumes of ice. Note to airborne researchers: be sure to sample the older parts of the turrets that have trailed downwind and turned completely to ice even though that trailing portion doesn’t look much like a Cumulus cloud. It you only sample the newly risen portions, you will cheat the cloud out of how much ice it can produce since it takes a little time for all the ice to form. Lotta early airborne researchers made this error, reporting too little ice, but, of course, if they were in the cloud seeding business, they wouldn’t mind at all since they could report that clouds needed more ice, that from their seeding activities!
11:37 AM. Oh, so pretty, those dark blue skies punctuated by a little muffin Cumulus cloud. Aren't you glad you live here?
11:37 AM. Oh, so pretty, those dark blue skies punctuated by a little muffin Cumulus cloud. Aren’t you glad you live here?
1:25 PM. Showers and small Cumulonimbus clouds trail off the Catalinas north of Bio2.
1:25 PM. Showers and weak Cumulonimbus clouds trail off the Catalinas north of Bio2.
1:25 PM. Showers track westward south of Catalina while the clouds over the Catalinas dissipate or remain disorganized while heading toward us.
1:25 PM. In the meantime, stronger Cumulonimbus clouds and showers track westward south of Catalina  toward Avra Valley while the clouds over the Catalinas dissipate or remain disorganized while heading toward us.
2:33 PM. A voluptous Cumulus congestus in the process of transitioning to a Cumulonimbus calvus (ice is visible but top stil pretty firm and round looking), then Cumulonimbus capillatus (fibrous top)
2:33 PM. A voluptous Cumulus congestus in the process of transitioning to a Cumulonimbus calvus (ice is visible but top stil pretty firm and round looking), then Cumulonimbus capillatus (fibrous top)  AN older turret, looking all ice, leans to the left.  Precip was already dropping out the bottom of this fat cloud.  What kind would it be?  Grauple, without doubt since so much supercooled liquid water  would remain in this cloud amid the ice crystals forming inside.  Those ice crystals, nice and pristine when they first form, would have their pretty forms obliterated by droplets that would freeze instantly on them, making them little snowballs, falling faster and faster, collecting more droplets.
2:46 PM. Moving rapidly away from Catalina, of course, that cloud has now become a Cumulonimbus capillatus (hairy, fibrous top a,most completely composed of ice--some liquid)
2:46 PM. Moving rapidly away from Catalina, of course, that cloud has now become a Cumulonimbus capillatus (hairy, fibrous top a,most completely composed of ice–some liquid may still arrive at cloud top in new turrets before quickly converting to ice.)  A portion of a rainbow can be seen at almost ground level.
2:48 PM. In the meantime, pretty strong storms, now having thunder, rage S through W of Catalina.
2:48 PM. In the meantime, pretty strong storms, now having thunder, rage S through W of Catalina.
3:14 PM. While we didn't have any great clouds near us, at least we had some nice lighting (not LTG) on the mountains from time to time.
3:14 PM. While we didn’t have any great clouds near us, at least we had some nice lighting (not LTG) on the mountains from time to time.
3:41 PM. Finally, the dramatic skies were shifting northward and measurable rain was on the doorstep. Looking SW toward Pusch Ridge and the Tucson Mountains.
3:41 PM. Finally, the dramatic skies were shifting northward and measurable rain was on the doorstep. Looking SW toward Pusch Ridge and the Tucson Mountains.
4:43 PM. Took awhile, but a decent Cumulus with a nice base now transitioning into a Cumulonimbus plopped some big drops and hail down. Streak at right is a hail particle with its fall distance in about 1/400 of a second.
4:43 PM. Took awhile, but a decent Cumulus with a nice base now transitioning into a Cumulonimbus plopped some big drops and hail down. Streak at right is a hail particle with its fall distance in about 1/400 of a second.
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4:47 PM. The hail got a little bigger and I took a picture of one of the stones, a little smaller than pea-sized in case you don’t believe me that some hail fell, too. Sometimes I think people don’t believe what I write, especially in footnotes….
5:02 PM. While the sunset was dramatic, it didn't bring the color hoped for, but this line of dark clouds presaged another bit of rain for Catalina.
5:02 PM. While the sunset was dramatic, it didn’t bring the color hoped for, but this line of dark clouds presaged another bit of rain for Catalina.

Except for a morning or afternoon sprinkle, no rain in sight, just a warm up back to above average temperatures.  Dang.

The End

———————-

1The young fluid dynamicist,  Richard Penniman, fascinated by the flow around mountains, and who later became known as the rock and R&B entertainer,  “Little Richard”,  first brought the Froude Number to public attention in his song, “Tutti Froude-e.”  The title, after an early release failed to capture the public’s imagination,  was later revised for greater “accessibility”,  to the song we know today as, “Tutti Frutti.

2Who can forget “Max and the Storm Troopers” and that great song?  I would submit, “everyone.”  Of course, few know that after 1968 they changed their name to “Led Zeppelin.”  And that, my friends, is  “the rest of the story”,  as Paul Harvey might say if he was lying about something anyway.

Colorful evening ends day with a colorful morning; a note on the great Cal rains of October 2016

Not much else to talk about, no rain of course;  what is that?

But with so many colorful scenes yesterday, we can be partially sated by the  lives we lead here sans rain here.  October ended with a puny 0.01 inches in Sutherland Heights.

Now, because I grew up in California and remain a little Cal-centric, this brief diversion from AZ:

But droughty Cal got nailed though, from about San Luis Obispo, so we can be happy about that I guess.  One station, Gasquet RS,  near the Duck border,  got just under 28 inches in October; stations in the Santa Cruz Mountains, way down by Monterrey, got between 14-17 inches!  From the California-Nevada River Forecast Center, this nice map of October rainfall anomalies in that domain.  Red is real dry, and that’s the color we would be in if it was the California-Nevada-Arizona River Forecast Center:

Many departures are far over the map color-coding limit of 350%, but are over 1000% of average!
Many departures are far over the map color-coding limit of 350%, but are over 1000% of average!  Note red below normal swath.  This tells you that the mean area of low pressure at the surface and aloft was just off the West Coast.  Pac NW set maximum October rainfall records, too.

But let us not dwell any more of generous rains that others got, but celebrate the color and clouds of Arizona.   Here are yesterday’s glorious scenes, beginning with a spectacular Altocumulus lenticularis under some Cirrus at dawn:

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6:37 AM.
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6:47 AM. Ac len stack.
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10:51 AM. Tiny patch of Cirrocumulus tried to hide in front of some Cirrus. Hope you weren’t fooled and logged this sighting in your cloud diary. Cloud maven person almost missed it himself.
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12:50 PM. There were lenticulars aplenty yesterday. Here’s another one in a location a little different from normal, beyond the Catalinas. Upwind edge is the smoothest one at right. No ice streamers coming out the downwind end, so must have been pretty “warm”. Lenticulars, due to their tiny droplets and those droplets having short life times, have been known to resist ice formation to temperatures well below -30°C -22° F). Pretty amazing.
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2:42 PM. Kind of clouded up in the afternoon, and with breezes, made it seem like something was up. It was, but far to the NW of us. We have been under a streamer of high to middle clouds originating deep in the Tropics for a couple of days. Here some lower level moisture has crept in on cat’s feet, to be poetic for a second, and has resulted in small Cumulus and Stratocumulus clouds underneath the Cirrus and lenticulars standing around. All in all, though the temperature here reached 87° F, a very pleasant day.

Now, just some nice lighting and color:

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5:32 PM. The almost flourescent plant in the foreground is what is known as a “cholla.” The end elements fall off quite easily and attach to things like your pant leg if you brush by them on a horse, or if back into them while walking and correcting your horse for something when he’s acting a little “wild.”  I can report that when seven or eight of them are stuck to the back of your shirt, its really hard to get that shirt off.  In fact, it just about won’t come off without a major scream.
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5:35 PM. The higher Cirrus are shaded by clouds to the west, but the lower remnants of Stratocumulus/Cumulus and a few Altocumulus are highlighted as though they were meant to be for this photo. So pretty.  Notice, too, how there seems to be more than one layer of Cirrus.
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5:44 PM. Cirrus and Altocumulus, the latter with some turreting making those the species, “castellanus”, if you care.
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5:47 PM. A nice flame-out of Cirrus occurred as those pesky clouds blocking the fading sunlight from striking them opened up below the horizon. A few Altocumulus castellanus can be seen, too, but relegated to shadow status.

In a further celebration of dryness here, let us examine the rainfall cumulative rainfall predictions calculated by the University of Arizona’s Dept Hydro and Atmos Sci computer the period ending at Midnight on November 5th.  Says the coming rain in the State misses us here in SE AZ while falling just about everywhere else, of course.  Dang.  Let’s hope it one of the worst model predictions ever!

This really poor forecast is based on the global data from last evening at 5 PM AST.
This really poor forecast is based on the global data from last evening at 5 PM AST.

 

The End.