“Frog strangler”, folk expression from the South for extra heavy rains, btw, which is what we had, except we have toads, not frogs.
Here’s what I think happened to produce 3.36 inches on Sutherland Heights. The winds were from the east at cloud levels. Cumulus spawned off the Catalinas/Mt Lemmon area, but the wind shear brought the tops over Sutherland Heights about the time they got cold enough to form ice, yesterday around -5° to -10°C (higher than the usual temps for ice formation because the cloud bases were so warm. I know what you’re thinking, “huh?” Take my word for it, that’s the way it works; the warmer the bottom of a cloud, the higher the temperature at which ice forms in it. Of course, over the oceans cloud base temperature doesn’t make that much difference… I better quit here on that.
Where was I? Oh… So, leaning out from the mountains is where they began to dump their loads beginning in mid-morning, when updrafts were likely modest. The first one missed Sutherland Heights altogether (except for a sprinkle, but drenched Oracle Road and the Basha’s area. And, likely because it didn’t rain on the east side of the Catalinas until later, those monster turrets kept spawning upwind of us.
The second in this series was a stronger turret, one that could stand more upright against the wind shear and dropped its load on Sutherland Heights. Indicative of stronger updrafts in that one was the onset of thunder, first aloft, then in ensuing turrets shooting upward, increasing cloud-to-ground strokes until it was unsafe to go outside without the thought of being fried.
And of course, the rainrates picked up, and stayed that way as new turrets launched off the same zone of the Catalina Mountains through mid-afternoon. That in itself was remarkable, and if you looked around, you could see that it wasn’t raining all that much either to the north or south of Catalina, and that the rainshafts faded as they trekked across Oro Valley.
The net result, an incredulous 3.36 inches here (3.37 inches in NWS-style gauge here), bound to raise eyebrows concerning possible rain gauge fraud; nothing like it anywhere in the local area! The ALERT gauge on the Golder Ranch Bridge only had 1.46 inches and Samaniego Peak, 1.93 inches! There will be very few days in our lifetimes like yesterday. Go to rainlog.org to see how amazing our local amount was in comparison to other gauges, once again raising the specter of fraud due to an outlandish amount1.
And, again, it was closer to what a REAL monsoon day in India, say, at Cherrapunji, where passing heavy rains are accompanied by the occasional thunderclap. So, in a sense, yesterday you were climatically transported to a land faraway, where tree roots are so big they make bridges out of them…
Some photos of this event, well, too many, really, after all, too many cloud photos is our niche!:
The End, of a very hurriedly thrown together piece. Got actual work that must be completed soon, something if you read it, it would be so boring you’d want to shoot yourself before you finished it! Sciency stuff. Oh, well, nose to grindstone now.