A day of cloud magnificence and error

Morning thunder, evening thunder; 0.84 inches of rain, 1-2 inches in the mountains, with some of the most dramatic skies and shocking cloud changes ever seen (by me).  “But,  hey, enough of ‘me’, lets get on with the ‘shockumentary'”,  as Rob Reiner might say.

Scene 1: Its morning.  A horsey ride has been planned with an important, published friend.   You’re thinking, “It will be good to be seen with someone important.”  No one’s paying attention to weather.  The weather is cloudy, quite nice really, but nothing threatening can be seen.

6:48 AM.  Nothing to worry about really.  Just a patch of Altocumulus castellanus.  Quite pretty.
6:48 AM. Nothing to worry about really. Just a patch of Altocumulus castellanus. Quite pretty.

Scene 2. Heading out.

7:20 AM.  Heading out.  Wonder what that is coming 'round the mountain.  Probably nothing, though it is kind of dark.  Cloud bases are lower, too.
7:20 AM.  Wonder what that is coming ’round the mountain. Probably nothing, though it is kind of dark over there. Cloud bases are lower, too. Desert’s turning a nice green now after the recent rains.  Too bad there isn’t more rain ahead.

Scene 3.  On the trails.

7:33 AM.  Been on the trails for more than 12 minutes...  Cloud bases lower still, but, its probably just harmless, non-precipitating Stratocumulus.   Nothing to be too concerned about, though the amount of water in the air must be prodigious today.
7:33 AM. Been on the trails for quite awhile, maybe more than 12 minutes… Cloud bases lower still, but, its probably just harmless, non-precipitating Stratocumulus.  Nothing to be too concerned about, though the amount of water in the air must be prodigious today.

Scene 4.  Ooops

7:43 AM.  Huh.  Rain and thunder approaching rapidly.  Note horse's rear pointing in the direction of the storm (lower center right).  As a horseman, you would know that this is a classic sign that a storm is approaching from that direction, though you can see it coming as well,
7:43 AM. Rain and thunder approached rapidly.  Note horse’s rear pointing in the direction of the storm (lower center right). As a horseman, you would know that horses often point there rear ends at storms, hard to say why,  but its a  classic sign that a storm is approaching from that direction, though you can see it yourself as well.  Actually, we were fleeing like mad, embarrassed galore that cloud maven person did not look at radar that morning to see what was over the hill.

Scene 5.  Dramatic skies and a few close strikes.

7:47 AM.  Just about back, but LTG strikes getting closer faster.
7:47 AM. Just about back, but LTG strikes getting closer faster.

The storm passed dropping 0.22 inches.  And, compounding error, as we know, when potent upper air disturbances bring morning thunder and rain, its pretty much always the case that the rest of the day will be dry as a subsiding couplet of air follows a rising one, the the strongly rising couplet of air that forced our morning clouds and storm.

So, was kind of looking ahead to a disappointing rest of the day , but was thankful for the unusual morning storm.

1:49 PM.  As expected, a large clearing occurred, followed by the development of a few harmless Cumulus over the Catalinas.
1:49 PM. As expected, a large clearing occurred following the morning rain, and a few harmless Cumulus developed over the Catalinas.
5:49 PM.  A thunderstorm passes NE of Catalina, but like the day before, will likely only bring on a mighty wind, though a rain-cooled one.  That will be nice.
5:49 PM. A thunderstorm passes NE of Catalina, but like the day before, will likely only bring on “a mighty wind”, to quote Rob Reiner again, though a rain-cooled one. That will be nice.
DSC_9473
5:59 PM.   Quite “histrionic”, but certainly won’t get here…..
DSC_9486
6:07 PM. Nice Cumulus congestus in foreground; giant anvil in back from the storm to the N-NE.
DSC_9490
6:10 PM. Nice scruff of Stratocumulus/Cumulus mediocris rides above the NE winds that blew out of the storm to the north. Certainly, these clouds won’t do anything. Bases disorganized, nothing congealing.
DSC_9497
6:17 PM. Huh. Bases looking a little better, especially back there over the mountains. Still, seems VERY unlikely anything will happen. Its late in the day, temperature falling…..
DSC_9498
6:31 PM. The larger base has crept closer to Catalina. But, as you can plainly see, its not doing anything, and hasn’t over the past 20 min or so, so you can pretty well forget that it will do anything. A few minutes later, thunder began to erupt from it. I could NOT believe it, as you were thinking as well.  No sign of an anvil, ice, or shaft!  Forecast of no rain going bad….very bad.
DSC_9505
6:34 PM. There it is, on the right, the emergence of the shaft from one of the smallest thundering clouds this writer has ever seen. Within a couple of minutes, Oro Valley below was not visible!
6:40 PM. Looking at Oro Valley!
6:41 PM.  Looking toward Catalina.  The visible sun shows that the intense rainshaft and cloud cover was quite narrow and limited.
6:41 PM. Looking toward Catalina, lower portion.  Its gone.   The visible sun shows that the intense rainshaft and cloud cover were quite narrow and limited.
6:54 PM.  Backside of first dump shown above.  Magnificent!
6:54 PM. Backside of first dump shown above. Magnificent!

But it wasn’t over by a long ways was it?

6:53 PM.  A new, much larger, firmer base has formed in the same spot as the previous storm.  And you KNOW its going to dump on us!
6:53 PM. A new, much larger, firmer base has formed in the same spot as the previous storm. And you KNOW its going to dump on us!
7:01 PM.  What a blast!  This one brought pea-sized hail.
7:01 PM. What a blast! This one brought pea-sized hail to the Sutherland Heights neighborhood.
7:02 PM.  Perhaps the shot of the day of the first evening blast as it moved off past Saddlebrook.
7:02 PM. Perhaps the shot of the day of the first evening blast as it moved over and past Saddlebrook.

 

The End, finally!

6 thoughts on “A day of cloud magnificence and error”

  1. Always fun to relive a day full of surprises by checking in with CM. Great photos and fun stuff as usual. Russ

    1. Wow, Russ, I did not see your comment until now! My apologies. Thanks for taking the time to comment; in spite of my lethargy, it IS really appreciated.
      Have been a little inactive this summer due to family health problems….

      art

  2. Great shots! Not sure how stumbled across this site (oh thats right, by googling ‘cloud glaciation’ images..) but great shots. If you are ever in Baltimore, I’ll let you shoot from my roof. its from the highest point in the city and I can see all around

    1. Thanks, Thommie, for taking the time to comment! Much appreciated. It sounds like you have a fantastic place to take cloud photos from…. Perhaps you should start a cloud blog, too!

      Thanks again,

      art

  3. Art–
    What a fabulous sequence of photographs and detailed notes! I’m quite happy you did NOT look at the radar–otherwise you might have stayed inside and missed all the cloud drama. Thanks for being “out there!”

Comments are closed.