Opinion piece, soapbox, etc; stepping away from clouds for a minute

I was disturbed last evening (Dec. 13th) by a piece on the California wildfires, and their cause during the venerable PBS news hour.  As with so many cases when opinions differ, PBS usually interviews those with differing opinions.

Not so last night.

It would seem that issues in climate have been removed from debate and critique except in the more or less underground blog world; bad for the public and bad for science.

Differences of opinion should be addressed head on in the most public of places, not hidden as though they don’t exist!

So I feel those alternative opinions  on the cause and frequency of Cal wildfires omitted in the PBS news hour should be exposed:


These opinions are contained in the Washington Times, a counterpoint newspaper to the liberal-oriented, Washington Post. (We need objective news so BAD!)

Perhaps the PBS producers should listen to the FTC statement on fraud, which reigns in advertisers statements that can mislead consumers.  I post this FTC statement because this is what happened last night on PBS, IMO.  If what they presented last night on wildfires was a “product”, in effect,  one “harming consumers” due to not having proper warnings (balance), you would see the injury lawyers lining up:

“Certain elements undergird all deception cases. First, there must be a representation, omission or practice that is likely to mislead the consumer.”   —FTC Policy Statement on Deception

Yep, that’s what happened in the PBS news hour last night.  Shame on you,  PBS.    You can do better.

Disclaimer 1.  Two of the scientists quoted in the Times article are friends and ones I greatly admire; they are first rate scientists with numerous peer-reviewed publications;  Cliff Mass, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Washington, and Roger Pielke, Sr., emeritus professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University.

Disclaimer 2:  The writer is firmly of the opinion that the world will be warmer in the future.

Disclaimer 3:  I am corrupted in a sense about scientific literature published in polarized domains due to having seen hundreds of pages of peer-reviewed literature describing ersatz cloud seeding results.  I have a fair body of literature published on those, in essence, “corrections.”  The bogus published cloud seeding results led to an erroneous scientific consensus on cloud seeding skill in the 1970s and 1980s.

Why did that happen?

The experimenters responsible for those faulty results knew beforehand what they would find and made sure they found it (sound familiar?), and  due to inadequate and/or “pal” peer-reviews that let faulty literature into peer-reviewed publications (also sounds familiar).

The End

(Thanks to Mark Albright, I guess,  to alerting me to that Washington Times article; I lost sleep over that and whether the Geminid meteor shower, peaking last night,  would destroy the space station, killing all on board.)

Altocumulus in transition; water to ice

I was thinking how great yesterday was for you.  Started out with a spectacular sunrise (lasted just a couple of minutes), and then you could watch for pretty much the WHOLE day, orographically-formed Altocumulus opacus and castellanus transition to ice crystal clouds (in this case, Altostratus with virga and some mammatus) right before your eyes!


7:16 AM. Flecks of Altocumulus clouds below Altostratus.

After sunrise….this odd scene below of an extended Altocu lenticular cloud:

7:33 AM.
12:24 PM. Altocumulus opacius shedding ice as they moved westward across Oro Valley.
3:01 PM. Altocumulus castellanus forming just upwind of the Catalinas, moving toward the west (to the left in this photo). No ice is falling out yet, though tiny ice crystals are likely starting to form.
3:01 PM. Looking farther downstream from the prior photo. Some ice is beginning to show up and fall out (center and left side of photo).
3:02 PM. Looking still farther downwind, those Altocumulus clouds are mostly glaciated, that is, mostly consist of ice. This transition has taken about 10 minutes of travel downwind. The sounding near this time, indicated that tops a little downwind of the U of AZ campus release site, were about -27°C (-17°F). However, tops were likely rising some small amount in this region downwind of the Catalinas, and so were almost surely, even a little colder than that.
4:33 PM. Nice example of what some of the Altocumulus castellanus looked like yesterday. That tallest turret will fall back. Its partner is just to the right, one that was previously as high, but fell back, its load of ice crystals drifing down. Some of the ice in the taller one is still being held up there until it, too, collapses. A error in aircraft sampling can occur if you don’t realize that tops have collapsed from lower temperatures, such as when collecting ice concentrations in the collapses one. You could easily assign a cloud top temperature that was too high; would not reflect the temperature at which they really formed.

More “pretties” below; yesterday’s sunset:

The afternoon sounding from the U of AZ campus.

The End

Intriguing jet stream pattern arises in computer models

First, your sunset for last evening:

5:38 PM. Altostratus with nearly straight lines of lower hanging virga in the distance. One cannot help but wonder if the passage of an aircraft enhanced the ice falling out and that’s why they are so linear.  There were quite a few aircraft-induced lines of ice yesterday, but all developed in cold Altocumulus clouds.  There’s one over there to the north….
5:33 PM. Lppking over there to the N and you can see a rivulet of ice falling below that patch of Altocumulus. one of many yesterday, though this is the prettiest one.  You can also see that there is something “wrong” here.  The trails below appearing to be slanting toward the west and the flow was from the east.  This indicates that the flow was stronger at lower elevations, an oddity.

Brain’s been pretty empty lately, not much to say except “same old same old”, as here.

But then some wild computer forecasts came out last evening that were worth mentioning in light of the fires that have plagued southern California.


Because they suggest that a belt of tropical flow will break through under the gigantic ridge that has blocked storms from the entire West Coast over the past weeks.

Sometimes, as most weathermen know, such persistent ridges get too big for their britches, that is, over-extend to the north, and then fracture, letting through moist tropical air from  lower latitudes of the Pacific ram into the West Coast.  Often the very greatest rains in California are associated with such patterns, as you could guess since there is so much water with those lower latitude-originated jet streams that strike the coastal mountains head on.  Here’s  the concern, this output valid for Christmas Day:

This from last night’s 5 PM GFS global model run, valid for 5 PM AST Christmas Day. What is shown is that the tropical input is about to combine with a trough over the Bay Area. When this happens both are energized.

Rain is forecast to have fallen in southern Arizona before this point, however;   our measly 0.01 inches so far here in Sutherland Heights so far  in December will likely be added to along with a switch to uncomfortably cold weather.

Of course, we look for support in these longer range forecasts by having some spaghetti–that is, take a look at what we call “spaghetti”, those crazy plots in which the model starting conditions are tweaked that bit to see how the model runs change.  Here are some plots, also from last night’s model.

As you can see in this first plot for the evening of December 22nd AST,  the clustering of blue and red lines off the West Coast, that our blocking ridge (composed of a deep mass of warmer air)  is extruding all the way almost to where Santa Claus lives, yes, that far to the north.  In fact,  so far that it will be unsustainable  over that distance fromt the deep tropics to almost the North Pole.  At this point,  cold air is pouring  down the east side of that ridge and into the Pac NW and eventually down toward us.  Does that extremely cold air make it here?  Not sure yet, but its something to watch out for before that ridge fractures and allows warmer, moist Pacific air to reach us.  So much uncertainty, so much fun!  I am really pumped up about all this uncertainty!

Valid at 5 PM December 22nd. This is really strong support for a major trough in the SW, and likely rain in southern AZ, Sutherland Heights around this time.

Below is the spaghetti dish for the “breakthrough” flow situation shown in the prog output valid for Christmas Day with some annotation on it.

Looking at the above, I think we can count on a breakthrough flow pattern from the Pac.  Where it barges into the West Coast will be subject to question over the next week or so.  That really can’t be determined right now.

I am sure those in southern Cal  hope, if there is a breakthrough from the Pac,  it comes in farther north than shown in the model run here today!  Patterns like the one shown in that  run  can routinely produce 10 inches in a day once they get going  should something burst through at low latitudes.

The brighter side would be that the chances of a significant rain here droughty southern AZ would at last  increase.

The End

Icy clouds blot afternoon sun in Catalina for seventh day in a row! How weird is that?

Well, on some days, there were Altocumulus clouds, too, helping to blot the sun.  Altocumulus clouds are mostly or all liquid clouds, if you care, which I doubt.  But then you are here, wasting time on this web site about clouds, so maybe you do care!

But, to conitnue the title’s theme, what a remarkable streak here in the “Atacama Desert” of Arizona where it has been said that it has never rained.  It certainly hasn’t rained here in recent memory.  And, will we have a truly dismal wildflower display?  Could be,  due to the absence of fall rains that are so important in producing  good displays.

And while there has been a pattern change, as there always is sooner or later, the conditions for rain just will not develop.  We are now in a “warm in the West, cold in the East” pattern of jet stream flow, that the atmosphere seems to like; gets stuck in it for days to weeks at a time.  A big ridge of high pressure will be deflecting the jet stream into Alaska and to where its toasty warm in “Utqiaġvik” (formerly Barrow; new name not pronounceable by non-native peoples–haha, just kidding, but what does that dot mean  above the letter “g”?!) with lots of precip for them.  Then that jet shoots down into the Rockies and upper Mid-West bringing masses of Arctic air and snow (the formerly warm air gets modified like mad when sitting on snow and ice–yes, there is still some ice and snow in Arctic regions, contrary to some popular beliefs).  But, what about in 50 years?  That  is the question…

No rain shows up for southern Arizona for two more weeks in the models.  Oh, me.

The only thing that will be fun in the next two weeks is looking at the hourly reports for Mount Washington, New Hampshire over the next two weeks, and see how cold and windy it gets.  Do you know that once (1989) it was -44°C (-47°F) at Mt. Washington with winds of, oh, I dunno, 100 mph or so?   Wind chill probably was around -500°F…..  The craziest thing about that long ago ob was that they were reporting “icing”, liquid cloud drops hitting and freezing.  But, how could they be liquid at -44°C?

Well, its been reported, strangely believe it, as we like to say here,  that liquid drops have survived to between -40°F and -50°C by motorcycle-riding, atmospheric scientist, Kenneth Sassen, when he was at the University of Utah.  Utah is located north of Arizona.  Ken, if I may,  thought it was due to sulfur in the droplets associated with volcanic aerosols, so it wasn’t “real” water, but rather the kind of water geoengineers want to inject to cool old mom earth.  Maybe, if true, that icing report  at Mt. Washington wasn’t “real” water, either, but polluted water from cities and factories to the NW where the wind came from….

BTW, when you get bored some more with our own weather, the obs for KMWN can be found here.  You’ll be glad you’re in Arizona when you look at them. Well, you’ll be glad you’re anywhere but THERE!  Maybe some geoengineers should spend some time up there instead of proposing crackpotty schemes that would change our sky color.  I demand, as persons of the 1960s would, of course,  that the people of earth be allowed to vote on such schemes BEFORE they are implemented!

Oh, yeah, about clouds…..after all, this is supposed to be,  “cloud-maven” country…

3:36 PM yesterday.  Once again, Altostratus translucidus (too gray to be Cirrus) has blotted the sun.   The bottom of this layer was about 20,000 feet above Catalina, according to the balloon sounding yesterday afternoon.
5:36 PM. Sunset was painterly, not bad.

The End,  for now.  Have some other chores to plug away on.


Pattern change in the works! Rain to fall in December!

Spaghetti.  See spaghetti run.  “Run, spaghetti, run!”1

FINALLY, after almost a calendar year of dryness and warmth, a pattern change is definitely in the works that will bring rain and snow to Arizona, beginning in early December!

Here’s what we got now:

. Big hump o’ warm air over us for a few days. Red and blue lines represent jet stream positions, pretty much the outer (southern, red) and inner locations (blue, cold side of the jet.)

But, not so long from now, that big ol’ storm blocking hump of warm air over us melts away, and the jet stream begins barging into southern Cal and the Southwest, and with that, STORMS!  Yay! Did you hear that desert?

But here’s what we got in early December, throwing in a little chaos. Looks pretty good, doesn’t it? Temperatures near normal or below, rain in the region at times. Note how red lines now dip down into Bajaland.  Excellent depiction.



1Cribbed from the Hawaiian Pups, “Baby Judy.” not the baby reader, Dick and Jane at all…

Alien hovercraft or possibly an Altocumulus lenticular cloud excites Catalina residents

I first noticed the craft as I was driving up Golder Ranch Drive. At first I thought it was just an Altocumulus lenticularis…  Really didn’t think that much about it.  We seem them over there all the time.

But it was unusually smooth, I thought, and had a slightly humped up portion on the top I could see after I zoomed in on it.   Could it be a cloaked alien space vehicle? Time would tell.

A lenticular expands and contracts while hovering over the same spot. This can go on for hours!  But, as you will see, over the next 20 minutes, this cloud, or “craft” did not change in any way, clearly evidence of a cloaked space vehicle!  Way too smooth to be a real cloud!

Since it didn’t seem to be doing anything, maybe just spying on me and us as do virtually all institutional entities these days,  I lost interest in it and continued doing yard work….

12:47 PM.
12:48 PM. Zoomed in….
1:00 PM. Seems to be taking an interest in Charlotte’s house next door, kind of floating over it. Hmmmm.
1:01 PM. After I looked away, it seemed to have leapt back over Charouleau Gap!
1:01 PM. As I zoomed out my camera, the object seemed to be getting smaller, perhaps moving away finally! I felt relieved and went back to raking the fall  leaves.  But, we don’t have leaves here, so what was that about?  Had I been infected?  Taken over?

Later, completely different looking clouds came over, Altocumulus tending toward castellanus variety…making the early afternoon smooth-looking cloud more anomalous.

2:42 PM. Bands of Altocumulus clouds worked their way over Catalina and environs, the craft or lenticular cloud long gone.  Or, wait a minute!  Is that it there on the horizon???
2:42 PM, looking farther to the SW. You can see how different these clouds look compared to the “lenticular.”

PS:  It been said that the UFO craze began with an Altocumulus lenticular cloud in the lee of Mt Rainier in the late 1940s.  Why not see if we can start a new craze right here in Catalina?  Been abducted lately?


The End, for now

Cirrus uncinus scenes for a lifetime, well, mine, anyway

I hope you had a chance to venture out late yesterday morning and see some of the most spectacular Cirrus (uncinus) displays with HUGE streamers that you will ever see.

The early Cirrus cloud were nothing very special, not showing clues about what was to happen a few hours later:

7:46 AM. A complex sky with Altocumulus on the right and various species of Cirrus such as Cirrus spissatus, center.

But by mid-morning, racing in from the west, these:

10:58 AM. From the Rillito Bridge at Swan, this amazing scene with Cirrus uncinus and those gigantically long tails of ice!
11:08 AM
11:08 AM. Mimics trees in a way, both reaching upward.
11:14 AM.
11:12 AM. From the Rillito Bridge at Swan again.  Kind of running around like a chicken with its hat off!  The heads of the Ci unc are overhead.
11:11 AM.
11:14 AM. One final shot.


There was an interesting  contrail distraction later that day.  Are these “castellanus” crenelations, or is it perspective?  Those knobs are usually pointed downward due to the action of the wingtip vortices that take them downward behind the plane.  Maybe they’re just sloped down at us, not puffed up.

1:10 PM.


Late in the day some Altocumulus advanced from the west, providing a nice sunset, but a layer once again impacted by aircraft holes.   Can you find them (with their trails of ice slanting downward?)

5:38 PM.

The End

Well, there is still a chance of some rain late in the month, late or after the TG holiday weekend…..  FIngers crossed.   Poor wildflower seeds.

A day dominated by cold Altocumulus punctuated by aircraft-produced hole punches and ice canals

Hope you saw them and recorded them in your cloud and weather diary.  I’m thinking that at the next Cloud Maven Junior meeting we should devote a lot of time to this issue.  It was a rare day yesterday that the WHOLE day had that phenomenon occurring as aircraft penetrated those clouds, usually on ascent or descent.  Sharp descents/ascents produce holes.  See the sequence below if you don’t believe me (ppt from a recent talk):

Aircraft inadvertent cloud seeding for Julie Mc.

Yesterday’s clouds:  lots and lots of  aircraft-produced ice

(btw, see note below about pop-up ads in this blog, ones that started to appear after downloading latest WP software)

6:44 AM. Altocumulus at sunrise. As we say so many times here in old AZzy, “So pretty.”
Also at 6:44 AM. From a smartphone, color not so great, though not bad either.
U of AZ Wildcats balloon sounding, launched at about 3:30 AM yesterday. Those Altcumulus clouds were way up there for Altocu, 22,000 feet above Catalina, 25,000 feet above sea level.because they were so high, were so cold, AND were composed of supercooled liquid water, they ripe for aircraft to create ice going through them, likely on climb out and descent from TUS and perhaps PHX as well, Davis-Monthan.  What was unusual, was that it was happening most all day as the clouds filled in some.  They remained liquid, high, and cold.

7:23 AM. Wasn’t long before aircraft made their presence known in this cold, cold layer.
6:54 AM. I should point out that a colder topped Altostratus layer was present to the N. Its not represented well in the TUS sounding. That layer was all or mostly all ice (the rosy colored segment of this photo).
7:37 AM. An unperturbed view of Altocumulus perlucidus (“Mackerel sky”). Are there any mackerel left?    Also, from a cloud viewing standpoint, these are much higher than one would guess. The fact that aircraft were making ice in them is a clue that they were higher than we would normally think of a “middle-level” cloud.   I like patterns like this.  I thought you would like to know that about me.
9:03 AM. Slicing and dicing. An aircraft has left a contrail through a Altocumulus line . What’s really unusual here is the ice contrail so far outside the liquid water cloud. It is thought that hole-punch and ice canals are limited to regions where there are liquid droplets, and so this is quite an anomaly, one that suggests the humidity was almost 100% with respect to water outside the cloud boundaries. Also, can you just make out the partial 22° halo, indicating very simple ice crystals like columns and plates?  Streamers of tiny ice crystals are also evident, trailing to the right, below the contrail?  This shows that the wind decreased rapidly with height just below the flight level, but was still from the southwest to west.
9:24 AM. Coming at you, another ice-canal has formed SW-W of Catalina, a favored locale for the formation of these canals on days like this.
9:40 AM. What’s left of it is almost to Catalina.  Note streamers of ice.  Below, a close up of a couple.
9:40 AM. The intensity and narrowness of these streamers point to an artificial origin. So, even if you didn’t see the canal, and here, some of the clouds are reforming at the top of the streamer, you would make a good guess that this was not natural ice.  Sometimes the canals can fill back in if the air is in overall ascent at cloud level.
9:57 AM. Here’s what those contrails in Altocumulus look like as they first appear. Can you spot’em? There are two.
1:45 PM. Another aircraft-produced ice event as the Altocumulus increased and became thicker, making detection of these events less obvious. Sometimes a canal clearing is very muted.
4:12 PM. Aircraft-induced hole punch cloud with ice below the hole. Can you spot it? See close up below.
4:12 PM. Close-up of that hole punch, ice mostly below the Altocumulus layer.
4:35 PM. That hole punch cloud 35 min later. The long trail indicates high humidity well below the Altocumulus layer in which it appeared.
The 3:30 PM balloon sounding from the U of AZ. A study in ambiguity.
The day ended with an unusually bright sun dawg, mock sun, or parhelia. So bright it did, again, suggest a plume of ice from a prior aircraft passage through extra cold Altocu or Cirrocu clouds. But, just wild speculation here.  Hope you don’t mind.
5:41 PM. Nice sunset, but one strongly impacted by clearing from aircraft-produced holes and lines of ice, the ice now mostly gone.

The End


——————About those nuisance ads—————

Note to me and the two other people that drop by my cloud or “clod” blogulations:  The embedded pop-up ads are due to a WP third party plug-in that needs to be repaired.  It will likely happen today.


After consultations about ads…

Oddly,  those pop-ups and blue highlighting and double underlining do not seem to be present outside of my personal view of my own blog, this according to hoster, “godaddy.”  Even using a different browser other than FIrefox does not show them as I have just verified.


Less data; but more filling

A “storm”, one with “rain,” has at last shown up in the numerical prognostics for late on Thanksgiving Weekend.  It appears for the first time on last night’s 11 PM AST model run.  At that time (11 PM AST) we have less global data to work with when the model crunches out its forecast, and so it is generally thought to be less reliable.  But, it has a storm for us….

But, a storm here helps fill dreams of a green desert washed of dust, and stimulates the thought of wildflower seeds springing to life for the spring to come.  So, to HECK with opinions on a 11 PM run having less skill!  Let us dream of rain and poppies!  Here it is below, from IPS Meteostar:

Valid on Saturday, November 25th, at 11 PM AST. As shown, rain would be imminent or underway with this upper level configuration. If it verified, might produce half an inch or so in Catalinaland.  That next trough would tend to follow in its path for a second rain a few days later.  This is so far out from now, we often call these kinds of depictions, “mythical.”  Take under advisement.  Also, this kind of depiction of a deep trough marching across old AZy wasn’t there on the prior run at 5 PM AST.  Going on a  hunch is all , that something will come through then.
From the NOAA spaghetti factory: Not a lot of support, either. Those blue lines (contours of the flow) should be bunched down in the SW if the forecast above, so far out in time, is going to have any reliability at all. It really doesn’t. Going on a hunch based on wishful thinking, like thinking Washington (former company team) was going to defeat Stanford last night….   🙁


Pretty Cirrus lately, often at multiple levels, as here:

12:13 PM yesterday. What’s a cloud-maven site without a cloud, at least one shot?  Can you tell that there are Cirrus clouds at different levels?  Notice crossing patterns, one clue.

The End

Some recent pretty clods

Been busy as a briefly unretired science worker (gave a stressful talk at a university last week) and thought maybe a lot of usual drop ins to this site might not anymore.   So, in the title for today,  am reaching out to a new demographic: persons interested in congealed soil matter.  They might later, after stopping by, discover a new interest; that in clouds, pretty ones.  Most of the cheap tricks I try like this don’t have any effect, though.  Oh, well.

Let us go forward after backing up:

November 3rd

8:01 November 3rd. OK, I’m way behind! Flock of Cirrus uncinus overruns Catalina and environs.
8:02 AM. Looking SW from Catalina. So pretty with the deep blue skies we have at this time of year due to sun’s lower angle in the sky.
9:16 AM. Look how different, even unreal, that flock of Cirrus looked when leaving us. Looking NE toward the Charouleau Gap.

But the Cirrus kept coming and more odd sights were seen:

10:06 AM. Two levels of Cirrus can be seen. This vertical white patch is likely a few thousand feet lower than the crossing faint strands center and right side,  which are likely above 30,000 feet above the ground.  The heavier Cirrus (spissatus) in the distance is also lower than the strands.

Heavier Cirrus, increasing and lowering to Altostratus finished off the day as a heavy shield of middle and upper clouds raced toward southern Arizona from the Pacific:

3:08 PM. Cirrus spissatus here, too splotchy in coverage to be Altostratus. Nice subtle lighting effect on the Catalinas…


“Due to time constraints, we move ahead in the action…”

November 4th

7:27 AM. Classic A row of Altocumulus floccus and castellanus underlie an Altostratus layer.  Where the bases have disappeared, at right, are termed “floccus”, if you care.
8:00 AM. Altostratus, some lower Altocumulus  castellanus with graniteen boulders and a coupla saguaros.
8:59 AM. Bird collective watches in hopes that the darkening, lowering Altostratus layer  (with some Altocumulus) will bring rain. It didn’t. “Dang”, we say here.
4:51 PM. All of the higher layers were gone, leaving only a lowest, but thin scattered to broken Stratocumulus clouds. 🙁  All in all, it was a good day for hiking and other outdoor activities.

Sunday, November 5th:

6:01 AM. Flock of CIrrus uncinus and spissatus again advances on Catalina.
6:21 AM. a closer view. Here they seem to be uncinus with fibratus. Stratocumulus clouds were topping the Catalinas, too, indicating more humidity than we have been seeing most of the past few weeks.
8:38 AM. I thought this was an especially spectacular scene, this lattice of Cirrus racing toward us.  Hope you did, too.

4:26 PM. Perhaps the brightest example of iridescence I have ever seen! Just spectacular for a few seconds in this patch of Cirrocumulus. Iridescence is caused by diffraction around the tiny of droplets, less than 10 microns in diameter, as are present when a cloud just forms.

5:09 PM. Seeing this scene of Altocumulus, you KNEW you were in for a superb sunset.  It didn’t disappoint.
5:39 PM.
5:40 PM. There is no virga here.
5:44 PM. Super!

The weather just ahead

The Wildcat Weather Department model is foretelling perhaps a measurable rain event between this afternoon and tomorrow morning at 7 AM!  Heavier rain is foretold to be south of us, but just a slight error would mean something more substantial.  Hoping for error!  A sky covering Altostratus layer is just about assured with a lowering tendency as the day goes on.  Should see some Altocu , too, a day a lot like last Saturday.

The End