Not much going on lately, so will dip into the archives from two days ago. One cloud in particular was so spectacular in its defiance of gravity, rocketing upward the morning of the 4th. So here are shots from that day…
6:46 AM, Aug. 4: The day began with a pretty normal looking patch of Altocumulus perlucidus (honey-comb pattern). No virga, so its likely not too cold. The sounding suggests it was up at 16,000 feet ASL, or 13 kft above Catalina at about 0°C (32 F).
Now, that’s pretty funny. We specialize here in too much said! Its a niche thing. Of course, not enough can be said about our past July. Take a look:
This, of course, was a new July rainfall record for Catalina/Sutherland Heights going back to 1977, anyway. Had to adjust vertical axis of this chart, too. Formerly, it stopped at only FOUR inches! The moon lore was right! It’s interesting how the ancient lore of early peoples that I made up a month ago was more accurate than the Climate Prediction Center’s prediction of an equal chance of above or below normal rain in southern Arizona while something incredible was on the doorstep! Kind of like last winter in the whole West where record amounts of snow and rain piled up over a huge region, and that, too, was also unforeseen “going in.” Think how horrible it would be if those predictions were always right. Sure, billions could be saved by such accurate outlooks, but then the element of surprise would be gone. How bad would that be?
After the paucity of rain in the preceding five months, and with June carrying into around July 10th this year with its blazing heat and no clouds, all that rain that followed with thunderations day after day, the attendant rain-cooled “breezes” to 50 mph on occasions, blowing stuff all around everywhere, were sure welcomed (?). (Another case of innovative punctuation to emphasize a point, whatever it is.)
Let us begin today by examining the greenth of the 2017 summer on our Catalina Mountains so far, thanks to July’s copious rains. Hah! The climate really has changed. Looking into growing bananas now…Now for some cloud photos from yesterday:
Well, the day closed on a disappointing note as Cumulonimbus debris clouds overspread the sky, killing new convection.
The weather way ahead
Looks like below average rain for August. :(, as we say. Hoping for error here. Average August rainfall here in Catalina/Sutherland Heights is 3.16 inches.
Later yesterday morning, some interesting “Altocumulocirrus”, a rare breed indeed, mocking/mimicking Altocumulus.
Maybe Cirrus floccus would come closest to the true name, but to every eye but that of a genuine cloud maven person, it would be deemed just “Altocumulus”. Check these out to see how good you were–and NO correcting your cloud diaries!!!!
The orangy colors denote the strongest winds in “Jetty Jetstream”, and as you know, the colder, low clouds, ones capable of reaching the temperatures where ice forms, are contained within that ring of strongest winds at this level (500 mb). So, while the models I have looked at so far have no rain here, I think there’s a pretty good chance of a rogue shower tomorrow morning anyway. At least there should be some nice Stratocumulus/Cumulus tomorrow and some will have ice in them. As you know, it’ll be awful windy today, too, maybe 40 mph or so in brief gusts here in The Heights of Sutherland.
Also will be looking for some nice lenticulars since “Jetty” will be right over us, but a little toward the warm side where lenticulars mostly occur.
In the meantime, spaghetti suggests a big trough in our area again about nine days from now. The later ACTUAL model outputs don’t show much of anything. What’s up with that? I’m hanging with spaghetti that later model runs will indicate a strong trough, and at LEAST another pulse of cooler air, and another minor chance of rain as we are going to see today and especially tomorrow as when become within the “ring of winds” aloft. Didn’t Johnny Cash sing something about that? Maybe it was Wall of Voodoo…
Below, some spaghetti for you showing a big trough over Arizona and the Great Basin which is not much reflected in the actual models, as noted. But, just watch my friend, how those model outputs will change to reflect a bigger trough about this time!
April’s been kind of a weather dud here in Catalina so far (no rain so far, and the chance on the 20th, mentioned here some weeks ago, has receded to Utah and points north), so lets take a look at how May is shaping up, only two weeks ahead:
I thought you’d be pretty happy when you saw this, as I was.
Its possible there is a photo from Catalina, Arizona! I have not checked yet. Its just been published by the World Meteorological Organization of the United Nations. Still needs a little work, but overall is VERY, very nice. Came out out on March 23rd, so we’re a little behind here as usual. The thing that makes it different from prior and sometimes flawed atlases is that each photo is accompanied by some weather data and in many cases maps, radar or satellite imagery at the time of the photo.
Some new expressions to toss around to your fellow cloud-centric folk are things like “Cirrus anthrogenitus”–Cirrus evolved from contrails and “Cumulus flammogenitus”, a Cumulus formed at the top of a fire, something we used to call, “pyrocumulus”, an unofficial term that somehow seems preferable to “flammo”.
However, something that has drawn great attention over the past 20 years or so was not given a name, aircraft-produced ice in Altocumulus and Cirrocumulus clouds, which have been referred to by Heymsfield and colleagues as “hole punch clouds.”1
Ice canals amid Altocumulus are also fairly common. Ironically, a hole punch cloud with ice in the center, and an ice canal in an Altocumulus cloud layer can be readily seen on the new International Cloud Atlas submission site, now closed. They’ve mistakenly, IMO, referred to “ice canal” photos as “distrails” without mentioning the ice canal “cirrus” down the middle. Formerly, distrails were clearings produced by aircraft in thin clouds without any change of phase in the cloud induced by the aircraft, unlike those holes and clearings produced when the ice-phase is triggered by an aircraft passage.
Certainly a “hole punch” cloud is not a distrail, a linear feature, and should have a separate nomenclature.
In keeping with the new terminology regarding “anthro” effects, maybe it should be, since we’re talking about the Cirrus induced by an aircraft, albeit at much lower levels than true Cirrus clouds:
“CIrrus Altocumuloanthroglaciogenitus.” (??)
Here’s a classic one of those that erupted over Catalina, posted here last January:
——————————————- 1It should be pointed out immediately if not sooner that Catalina’s Cloud Maven Person had plenty of time to rectify, or suggest changes to the Atlas as he could have been part of this process, but didn’t really do anything except submit some images for consideration.
In particular, those Altocumulus clouds, “cold” Cirrocumulus (ones that transform to ice immediately), and those “Altocumulocirrus” clouds combining with scenes of “regular” cirriform clouds. Lots of interesting sights to have seen yesterday. All these the result of marginal moisture aloft and strong winds, up around 100 mph at the highest Cirrus levels.
Let us begin as cloud maven folk by examining the late afternoon sounding launched from our Wildcat balloon launching machine at the University of Arizona, courtesy of IPS Meteostar:
The weather way ahead
Still looking for that chance of rain before July…. haha
Troughy conditions will actually recur aloft over us over the next few weeks it seems, which means slight chances of rain, but periodic cold fronts passing by, mostly dry ones. Best chance for rain still seems to be around the 20th, plus or minus a day or two, even though mod outputs have backed off that scene. But, we have our spaghetti that tells us the models will likely bring back that threat around the 20th, even if some individual runs show nothing at all or only close calls. We shall see if this interpretation has any credibility at all, won’t we?
Of note, Cal having big April in rain and snow after the gigantic January and February accumulations! Looks like they’ll continue to get slugged by unusually strong storms, off and on, for another couple of weeks. Water year totals are going to be truly gigantic.
On this station plot map for the Tucson area, generated by the University of Arizona’s Hydro and Atmospheric Sciences Department, now has a point for little Catalina/Sutherland Heights! Check it out. Sample map below. Now you can see how our predicted weather varies with those points around us over the next few days. How great is that?Some rain from our incoming cold front is just about here as a line of showers approaches from the west. Hoping now for a tenth of an inch is all.
Had some nice scenes late of little Altocumulus castellanus shedding light snow showers or “virga.”
The weather ahead and way ahead
March. a lamb upon entry, will roar on the way out. While only a little rain will likely fall today, several more troughs are in the works, during the next ten days and they are looking much more potent than today’s trough and front passage, probably bringing cold enough air that some people will start complaining about how cold it is; probably me. Looks, too, like abnormally cool weather will cruise right in to the first week or two of April. Bye-bye heat!
I thought you’d like to read this (Peru’s Niño), forwarded to me by Niño expert, Nate M. Pretty incredible to read about what is happening down there in the wake of the Big Niño of 2015-16, which really turned out to be more of a couch potato in terms of weather production in the Great SW.
But, all this winter, along the Equator near the coast of South America, there has been something we used to call an “El Niño”, but is downplayed or ignored these days because of a new definition that seemed to explain more weather when it occurred, “Region 3.4” a large zone along the Equator WAY out in the Pacific rather than something near the South American coast (that zone now called, “Regions 1 and 2”), as nicely illustrated by NOAA here.
But what has been the effect of what we might call the “Classic Niño”, a warm strip of water along the South American coast, one that doesn’t extend too far into the Pacific? “Read all about it”, as they used to say. Its pretty remarkable.
And here’s what the SST field looks like. Its boiling down there off South America! (Speaking figuratively, of course):
Peru’s Niño can be thought of as a “classic Niño”, the ones written about in the decades before about 1990 or so when the definition of what constituted a NIño (or Niña) was expanded and delineated more sharply among several definitions that were floating around. We ended up focusing on a region WAY out in the Pacific Ocean called, “Region 3.4” that SEEMED to explain more over the prior years.
What’s so interesting about this is that the “Classic Niño” has been underway pretty much all this winter, and we’ve had, especially in California, a classic Niño response; that is, abnormally heavy precip farther down the West Coast that no one anticipated.
Well, the correlations with Cal precip and “classic Niño” occurrences will take a huge jump upward after THIS winter!
End of Statement (hand-waving) on Niñoes.
Local weather statement: for immediate release
Cooler, fluctuating weather foretold here for that latter part of March, I don’t know how many weeks ago, is on the doorstep after the long, anomalously hot dry spell. Poor wildflowers have been suffering, too, fading, looking a little stunted after a great beginning, one rivaling the great displays of 2010.
All of the local weatherfolk are on top of this now, and so no point recasting that stuff. HECK, you can go to Weather Underground1 and get as “good as can be” forecast for Catalina (Sutherland Heights) out to ten days! And, there’s nothing worse for a weather forecaster with forecasting in his blood, than to be excited about an “incoming” and when you mention it to a neighbor he replies, “Yeah, I heard about that already. Supposed to get a quarter of an inch.” There is no air whatsoever in the “balloon” after that. So, if you have a weather-centric friend who says something about the upcoming weather, pretend that you haven’t heard about it yet, “DON’T say something as hurtful, as “Yeah, I heard about that already.”
So, here, we go the long route because most weatherfolk are afraid to go too far into the future because its often WRONG. Our models tend to lie a lot after about even a week, so only the brave go out even ten days!
However, here, we go out as much as two weeks and more because its not a truly professional site but rather want to get something out there earlier than other people, sometimes called a “scoop” in the news and weather business. That’s why our motto here is, “Right or wrong, you heard it here first!” Furthermore, if a longer range forecast posted here is WRONG, you won’t hear about it anymore!
Cloud maven person will say this about the first incoming of several fronts: comes in early Thursday morning, its strong! Rainfall potential: 10% chance of less than 0.12 inches, 10% chance of more than 0.75 inches. Best of those is the average, or about 0.4350 inches in this one. It has great POTENTIAL to be a soaker, but mods have been all over the place; hence, the large range of potential amounts. At least some measurable rain seems to be in the bag, a paper one please, because plastic is insidious. Note, CMP’s forecast is more generous than that found in WU’s latest forecast for Catalinaland.
The weather WAY ahead, unprofessionally so
Let us look beyond the professional forecasting limits to April:
We know we got several storms/fronts zipping across AZ as March goes out like a lion, but what about April?
Looks like that pattern will continue into April with temperatures below normal for the first part. The end of the unprofessional forecasting portion of this blog, though we do have our NOAA spaghetti to hang our umbrella on…. Check it out for about two weeks ahead.
Some clouds recent clouds, including a couple from yesterday
———————– 1Although “Weather Underground” might sound like an org has a radical origin, maybe something left over from the late 1960s, this particular one was NOT formed by 60s “weatherman” terrorists like Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn (the link is for those of you who may have set trash cans on fire, as happened at San Jose State to protest the Vietnam War, to look back at those days in horror or nostalgia; take your pick) , but rather by genuine weather geeks (haha, I count myself among them, those that can’t get enough of weather, there can never be too much, like the guys mentioned in this “Cloud City” article.)
Doesn’t look promising for much rain here in Catalina in March, however. No rain in sight through the next 10 days at least.
Let’s check our 7 inches with what’s happening upwind, say, in CALIFORNIA, and see if there’s been any drought relief there, through February, via the CNRFC:
As you are likely to know from many media stories last year, Cal was in a drought siege of five straight years, with but got a little relief last year in the northern part thanks to help from the giant Niño, one of the strongest ever.
Alas, it was one that failed to deliver as the big rain producer for the south half of Cal and the SW in general as was expected.
In case you’ve forgotten how bad things were in Cal, let us look back at what was being said, those horrific appearing drought maps, and also how hopeful were were at the time that the Big Niño would take a bit bite out of drought. This is a really good article:
Then, when the Big Niño faded away like maple syrup on a stack of buckwheat pancakes last spring and summer, we were surely doomed for more dry years. And, for a time, the dreaded cold tongue of water in the eastern equatorial region, the so-called, La Niña, started to develop, which would be no help at all for a good rain season like a Big Niño is, usually.
The Niña faded away, too, to nothing as the winter went on, so we really didn’t have much going on in the tropical Pacific to help us figure out what kind of winter rainfall regime we were going to have om 2016-17. Not having anything going on meant winter rainfall could go either way, a difficult to figure out situation for season forecasters.
In retrospect it is pretty astounding how big a signal must have been out there SOMEWHERE that this winter was going to be one for the history books on the West Coast in general, and in particular, for Californians. Californians saw their drought chewed up and spit out in a single winter, including snow packs so high the height of some mountain peaks have been revised. (I’m kidding.)
No one saw such an astounding winter coming.
This winter sure makes one think of the QBO (Quasi-biennenial Oscillation, one up there in the Stratosphere where there’s almost no air (haha, well, practically none)… Did the QBO have a role in this astounding winter; was there a delay in the effects of the Big Niño even without a bunch of convection in the eastern Pac tropics? Doesn’t seem that could be right…
But, William “Bill” Lau, U of Maryland scientist, reported some statistical evidence of such a lag way back in ’88 due to a QBO connection of some kind and ENSO, no physical cause could be discerned, however, not yet, anyway. Lau, 1988, is reprised below for readers who want to go deep:
In case you don’t believe me that over an inch fell, this digital record from Sutherland Heights with writing on it:
Probably a little more to come, too. Got some blow damage, I’m sure. Will be looking for roof shingles around the yard today.
And, as everyone knows from their favorite TEEVEE weatherperson, “New Storm to Pound SE Arizonans!” Begins Monday night, Tuesday AM. May have snow in it as it ends.
Your know, its no fun telling people what they already know, so lets look ahead beyond the normal forecast period of great accuracy, beyond not seven days, not eight, but beyond TEN days!
First, we set the stage with a ten day look ahead (from last evening) in a NOAA spaghetti factory plot:
This plot indicates that the pattern of a towering, storm-blocking ridge is certain along the West Coast by ten days–will be developing for a day or three before this, That ridge represents an extrusion of warm air aloft over the entire West Coast extending all the way into Alaska. The couple of red lines in and south of AZ are due to the change of a minor, likely dry, cutoff low in our area about this time (plus or minus a day).
In other words, this plot suggests a warmer, dry period develops over AZ, and storms are shunted from the Pacific Ocean, located west of the West Coast, all the way to Anchorage and vicinity, They will be welcoming a warm up in weather up thataway at some point in this pattern.
Is that it, then, for the AZ winter precip? It could happen. Just one more storm after the current one fades away today?
Hint: Sometimes anticyclone ridges like the one in the plot above get too big for their britches, and fall away, or, break off like a balloon from a tether, and a warm blob of air aloft sits at higher latitudes, often floating off to the northwest.
The exciting ramification of this latter scenario is that in the “soft underbelly” of the “blocking anticyclone” (as in American football), the jet stream throws something of a screen pass, goes underneath the belly of the blocking high, and races in toward the West Coast at lower latitudes. Having done so, such a break through pattern (“Break on through to the Other Side”) results in heavy rains in Cal and the Southwest.
Izzat what’s going to happen?
Let us look farther ahead, unprofessionally, really, and see if there is evidence in spaghetti for such a development and you already know that there must be because it would explain why I am writing so much here. Below, the EXCITING spaghetti plot strongly indicating break through flow breaking on through to the other side, i.e., the West Coast, from the lower latitudes of the Pacific:
Well, we’ll see in a coupla weeks if CMP knows what he is talking about.. I think this is going to happen, resembles what’s happening now, and weather patterns like to repeat, more so within the same winter. However, how much precip comes with this pattern will be determined by how much flow breaks on through to the other side….
Let us begin our look at yesterday’s clouds by looking back three days ago before the Big Storm. We had a nice sunrise. Here it is in case you missed it:
Moving forward to only two days ago, the day preceding the nighttime blast: a cold, windy day with low overcast skies all day, shallow, drizzle-producing clouds, something we don’t see a lot of here in Arizona.
By the end of the day, the clouds had lowered again, and we were about to have a very interesting night!
———————- 1Remember how great we hippie relics thought that first Doors album was? Later, the Doors, and that era were to be made fun of by 80s punk and humor group, The Dead Milkman in “Bitchin’ Comaro.” (Its worth a listen.)