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:
Sure, there’s a bit cooler weather heading our way in the next few days, but “May” will reappear after that, and people will be complaining again that they evacuated their domiciles in northern climes or high altitude sites too early when they returned to their winter homes in Arizona. I am hearing a lot of that kind of complaint.
Heat, devoid of thunderstorms, is truly tough to take here in AZ.
Unfortunately the little troughs so well predicted to occur in NOAA spaghetti plots at the end of October did not bring any rain, and this next one, which slipped from late October into the first of November, looks like its going to be dry, too.
October will end with but 0.01 inches of rain here in The Heights. Our average is 1.13 inches (1977-2015). Last year we had over two inches in October AND November, setting the stage for a good spring wildflower display! Below, a reminder:
But, “hey”, looks like southern New Mexicans will get a lot of rain, so let us be happy for them this coming week, and not sad for ourselves when we read about all the rain THEY are getting so close to us. Its only right.
But here’s the killer plot, just out from the NOAA spaghetti factory. I couldn’t believe how bad it was for us. You, too, I am sure will be frustrated and mad when you see it:
In the meantime , we can rejoice at the bountiful October rains they are having in California. Some records will fall. Some stations in the extreme north will approach 30 inches for the month of October by the time the month ends, and many stations south of those, including ones in the Sierra Nevadas will log 10-20 inches for the month.
Outstanding. But, it needs to continue, not dry up….to take a real bite out of drought.
Let’s face it, for most of the people living in Arizona, their best years are in the rear view mirror, as are mine which were probably about 50 years ago… Following that thought, let us not look ahead to further declines, but rather look back at the last water year for Catalina, ending this past September 30th, and see what it says, if anything, about the changing global climate we hear so much about:
Can’t say I see too much going on here in Catalina so far; things seem pretty stable in the precipitation arena for the full water year’s rainfall.
I point out again, with great redundancy since I have pointed this out before, that the Our Garden climate record started just as a monumental change in circulation patterns occurred. Most climate scientists would attribute that to a shift as due to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, discovered by important scientists I know well, like Mike Wallace1, of the University of Washington Huskies Atmospheric Sciences Department where I worked for about 30 years, but in airborne studies of clouds.
The PDO shift, if that’s what done it, was a circulation pattern change that brought astoundingly wet conditions to Catalina and the whole Southwest US, wet conditions unlikely to be seen in our remaining lifetimes, which aren’t that much longer anyway.
You may remember that bristle cone pine tree rings in California, analyzed by Haston and Michaelson in 1994, found only one period in the last 600 years (!) that was as wet as the late 1970s into the 1980s there (certainly spilling into AZ).
Remember how the Great Salt Lake was filling up to record levels back in the 1980s?
And any long term resident here, like the ones that I have spoken to, will tell you about the days of yore when the washes around here were running all year.
Well, that wasn’t the norm. sadly. They were just so lucky to have seen that era.
In weather, what goes around, comes around. Count on it happening again at some point in the future IMO. (Some climate changers might disagree with this assertion.)
How about our summer rainfall, June through September. Well, here’s that graph, updated through this past summer! Hope you like it:
Not much going on here, either.
Yesterday’s clouds–another day, another rainbow, of course.
Sprinkles of rain occurred off and on all day yesterday, but couldn’t muster even one hundredth of an inch of rain! With a few exceptions, the clouds producing the rain weren’t too deep, though still icy ones, and pretty high off the ground, mostly above 8,000 to 9.000 feet above us, which doesn’t help.
First, a rainbow shot:
1Well, actually we said “hi” in the halls once in awhile, I gave a talk in his class once, and, along with a bunch of Atmos Sci faculty, got to watch the 1992 New Year’s Day Rose Bowl mash down of Michigan for the Washington’s 1991 NCAA Division I fubball championship at his house. He also mediated an authorship kerfluffle between Peter Hobbs and me.
Its not a McDonald’s product, but rather a reference to yesterday’s rain total here in the Sutherland Heights, but maybe there will be some extra blog “drive bys” of people looking to order a small meal…
Yesterday’s 0.26 inches was only the second day in 39 years that measurable rain has fallen on June 10th (normally reported the following day, today, at 7 AM 1 novella-sized ). Rain mainly fell in Sutherland Heights and to the north in this first episode, and later to the southwest through west of us as a big cell came in after 4 PM from the south sporting a huge anvil.
Measurable rain of at least a mm (0.04 inches), enough to trip the ALERT gauge bucket, did not even fall on the CDO Bridge at Lago, while 1.02 inches fell 1.5 mi west of Charouleau Gap (Cherry Spring ALERT gauge) yesterday. Nice.
Continuing with interesting information….
The day of this blog was Saturday, June 11th.
In the past 39 Junes, it has not rained in Catalina on this day. Check it out with this updated rain occurrences chart with generalities on it, ones that don’t always apply:
Yesterday’s clouds (which is now a few days ago, June 10th actually)
1Mr. Cloud Maven Person was so excited he forgot that the rain that fell on June 10th will be reported on June 11th. By convention, the 0.26 inches which fell on the 10th, will be reported as though it had fallen on the 11th. That’s because it will be the 24 h total ENDING at 7 AM local standard time, the time when most obs are recorded these days.
Yep. It used to be the most stations, except those having recording gauges as here, as here, which can partition the rain by the exact 24 h it fell in, reported their precip in the late afternoon, 4-6 PM local standard time. The shift requested shift for cooperative observers like me occurred in I don’t when, maybe 20 years ago.
This shift had an important impact on climate since reading your thermometer, say, at 5 PM in a heat wave, might mean the highest temperature for the following 24 h was almost the same temperature as you had on your prior observational day even if a cold front came through a few hours later on that day and the high temperature on the following day was cold as heck, the high temperature actually 30 degrees lower. But the thermometer you reset at 5 PM the prior day will be immersed in those higher temperatures right after you made that ob. So, when a crazy thing could happen. The actual high temperature the following day could be 52 F, but the reset thermometer might have 81 F as the high for the whole 24 h following the official ob time. Got it? It is confusing, and something that causes headaches in climate studies.
Now, it is thought that the shift to 7 AM obs could lead to a slight amount of cooling since that same effect could happen during a cold spell. The low temperature of a cold, cold morning might carry over as the coldest temperature for the next 24 h day even if that next day was far warmer. Glad I’m not too interested in temperature, but rather clouds! Temperature is too hard, as Homer Simpson might say.
As you can deduce or not, the problem is that cooperative observers only read their instruments once a day as a rule, and the high and low temperatures for a day are averaged to get the average temperature for the whole day. Its the best we can do since cooperative observers for the National Weather Service are unpaid volunteers, which is redundant.
However, the cooperative observer network for climate data in the US is in collapse these days; not enough money to keep it up and so if you were to check the government publication, “Climatological Data”, mostly comprised of cooperative observations with a sprinkling of official National Weather Service ones, you would find lots and lots of missing reports. No one seems to care a lot about climate obs these days, though there is a mighty interest in climate models!
Well, we’ve gotten off into quite an informative harangue here…..
2.83 inches of rain fell in October in Sutherland Heights, Catalina, Arizona, a little more than twice normal for here (based on Our Garden’s record dating back to 1977). Our Garden is located off Columbus and Stallion here in Catalina, some 2 mi and a bit lower than this site.
The greatest Oct rain at Our Garden or here?
The year was 1983, of course, with 5.61 inches, for perspective. Nearly all of that fell in the first four days!
Will November continue the above normal rainfall here?
1Wanted to be particularly decisive today. As a matter of fact, women love decisive men, FYI, to spice up the blog with some life knowledge outside of clouds and weather, besides this being a cheap trick to attract more readers of gender.
Huh? New thought. Advice columns have millions of readers! A cloud blog like this one, 2. Wonder if I could do advice, to help people live better? Oh, here’s one that’s just come in:
“Dear CMP: I want to cut my long hair because I LOVE the convenience of having short hair, but my boyfriend won’t let me. What should I do? Gale.
Dear Gale. Your boyfriend is right. No woman should have short hair. Best of luck, CMP.”
Gosh, that was pretty easy… I think I could do it!
COntinuing WEATHER discussion….
Sure, we got us Big Niño now, but they don’t have much effect in November unless some TS2 comes up from Mexico way. Niñoes effect more of the later winter and spring, as a rule.
1addendumLong period of “troughiness” is still in the works for the first half of November, but the amplitudes of the troughs will not be great enough to give us much in precip. Remember, gotta have the jet stream in the middle levels (i.e., at 500 millybars pressure, 18 kft or so) over us or south of us this time of the year to get precip. About 95% of our rain in the cool half of the year has to meet that criteria. Therefore, it takes high amplitude trough with the jet stream in the middle levels of the atmo curling around us to bring us rain.
Now wind, we’ll have lots of that from time to time as those troughs go by.
2 “TS”–not in the colloquial sense of the expression, but rather in the tropical sense. Well, I guess if it was a HUGE TS that came up, the colloquial sense might be OK…
OOPS. I was listening to a Southwest CLIMAS podcast, originating at the U of AZ, and realized I missed in the above graph what can only be termed an “ineffectual Niño” that which occurred in 1986-88 and did not produce a precipitation “signal” here. How lame was that?
So, while we are excited about the prospects of extra rain this winter due to the current, supersized El Niño, like all things weather, some doubt must be in place.
Rather than hiding the omission of the “ineffectual El Niño” period, I am inserting the corrected water year history plot here with slightly revised annotation so you can compare them both.
These data are mostly from Our Garden, 1977-78 through 2011-12, located at Columbus and Stallion. The data after that are from Sutherland Heights, Catalina, some 2 mi or so to the SE of that site, and about 300 feet higher in elevation. So there is a bit of what we would call a “heterogeneity” in the data.
The downward trend is misleading, since the Our Garden record began with extremely wet water years, due to a combination of a shift in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation that occurred in 1977-78 (a shift that squelched the then record West Coast drought) and a Niño or two.
That kind of downward trend shown for Catalina in cool season precip does not show up in the Statewide averages for the whole year, anyway, shown below.
Those annual data show the usual oscillations between drier and wetter epochs in Arizona. In the plot below, you can see that had the Catalina record started in 1950 or so, there would likely be little in the way of a trend since so many of those years were drier than average. You can also see the effect of the PDO change in the late 1970s where year after year was above for the State of Arizona as a whole.
The weather ahead
Rain, tropical skywater, still appears headed our way around the 4-6th of October.
Might was well, since no rain will fall here through the end of September (ugh). Here it is:
But lets look at a wider set of data to see what’s going on with the whole State of Arizona precip, through 2014, anyway. The plot below is the ANNUAL statewide average, January through December, the worst possible way to display 12 mos. of precip data. This is because it slices the cool season (October through May) in half, and whole cool seasons in particular can be impacted La Niñas and El Niños that usually only last one cool season. So those kinds of effects are muted in the presentation of annual averages in the plot below (from NOAA NCDC). Sure wish they would issue water year averages (October through September) or even the West Coast, July through June annual average; both of the latter two methods capture El Niños and La Niñas well.
These shots below from hikes/horsey rides on Friday and yesterday, FYI. Seemed a little greener than usual for this time of year probably due to those September and early October rains. I think you should hike or ride a horse/bike out there in the Catalina Mountains before the rains hit. Yeah, that’s right; its gonna rain in November1.
1Assertion subject to error. But check THIS out, from last evening’s run at 11 PM AST which I just now saw at 7:46 AM: