Category Archives: Cirrocumulus clouds

More patterns galore, but with natural holes in them that made for an extra fascinating day!

The TUS balloon sounding launched at around 3:30 PM from the Banner University of Arizona
The Banner NWS TUS balloon sounding launched at around 3:30 PM from the Banner University of Arizona.  The temperature of the Cirrocumulus was indicated to be about -36° C, at about 26,000 feet above Catalina (29,000 feet ASL) and yet portions of the Cc had liquid droplets.  The higher vellums of Cirrostratus or Cirrus were located.

Photos of yesterday’s patterns

I could literally hear the cameras clicking all over Catalina and Oro Valley as these patterns showed up, moving in from the southwest as the increasing numbers of cloud-centric folk lost control of themselves.  Reflecting that general loss of control, which affected yours truly, too many photos will be posted here.  Below holey clouds with icy centers, but not ones caused by aircraft:

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And look closely at the fine patterns, lines and granulations in these shots!  Truly mesmerizing.

DSC_3222 DSC_3221But what’s missing in this photo above?  There was no iridescence seen around the sun where we normally look for it suggesting that those Cirrocumulus clouds nearest the sun were composed of ice crystals, and not tiny droplets.    Iridescence is rarely seen next to the sun due to ice crystals because they are usually the result of the freezing of existing droplets, that then grow rapidly as ice particles to sizes too large to produce diffraction phenomenon  close to the sun.  Where’s my Lear jet,  so’s I can confirm these speculations?!!  I would very much like to have one on “stand by”, in case I think of something.  Below, a wonderful example of no iridescence even though newly formed clouds are by the sun:

4:21 PM. An outstanding example of no iridescence, maybe one of the best ever taken!
4:21 PM. An outstanding example of no iridescence, maybe one of the best ever taken!  The power pole shows signs of being in an archaic neighborhood.

A jet runs through it

Or so I thought.  In this chapter of cloud-maven.com, we inspect the photos of a commercial jet flying at or near the level of these clouds and determine what happened.  I was quite excited to see this happen because we would now determine whether there were any liquid droplets in what to the eye of the amateur cloud watching person would be a liquid droplet Altocumulus clouds.  Here the size of the elements are just a bit too large to lump it into the Cirrocumulus category, if you care.  So, with heart pounding, took this sequence of photos:

4:23 PM. A commercial jet streams into it seems, the Altocumulus layer. Or did it? CMP thought so.
4:23 PM. A commercial jet streams into it seems, the Altocumulus layer. Or did it? CMP thought so.

Let is go zooming:

4:23 PM. Looks to have descended to below this layer. Note sun glint on aircraft.
4:23 PM. Looks to have descended to below this layer. Note sun glint on aircraft.
4:23 PM. Zoomin' some more.
4:23 PM. Zoomin’ some more.
4:26 PM. But, as the location of the aircraft path slipped downwind rapidly, there was NOTHING! I could not believe it! No ice canal with a clearing around it, and no contrail inside these clouds. The clearing would have occurred had the aircraft penetrated supercooled droplets leaving an ice canal. But, if the cloud was all ice, a penetration by an aircraft should have left a contrail, as they do in cirriform clouds. The conclusion? As close to this layer as the aircraft was, it did NOT apparently go into it. Amazing to this eye.
4:26 PM. But, as the location of the aircraft path slipped downwind rapidly, there was NOTHING! I could not believe it! No ice canal with a clearing around it, and no contrail inside these clouds. The clearing would have occurred had the aircraft penetrated supercooled droplets leaving an ice canal. But, if the cloud was all ice, a penetration by an aircraft should have left a contrail, as they do in cirriform clouds. The conclusion? As close to this layer as the aircraft was, it did NOT apparently go into it. Amazing to this eye.
4:25 PM. Looking downwind at those "Altocumulo-cirrus" clouds, all ice from almost the very leading, upwind edge due to that -36°C temperature they were at.
4:25 PM. Looking downwind at those “Altocumulo-cirrus” clouds, all ice from almost the very leading, upwind edge due to that -36°C temperature they were at.  Though overhead, as you saw in the photos below, they might be reckoned as plain Altocumulus, and not solely composed of ice ones.

By the way, if you caught it, there were a couple of standard, aircraft-produced, “hole punch” clouds at the very upwind, formative portion of this patch of clouds before it got here. These photos pretty much prove that the Cc at the formative end at that time was composed of highly supercooled droplets and that the passage of an aircraft produced ice, that caused a fall out hole.

1:52 PM. Hole punches caused by aircraft in the Cirrocumulus to Cirrus patch that moved over us later. Clouds like these do not move at the speed of the wind, about 60mph up there yesterday at this level, but rather, the air moves through it a hump in the airflow that moves much more slowly than the wind.
1:52 PM. Hole punches caused by aircraft in the Cirrocumulus to Cirrus patch that moved over us later. Clouds like these do not move at the speed of the wind, about 60mph up there yesterday at this level, but rather, the air moves through it a hump in the airflow that moves much more slowly than the wind.  Note the slight iridescence in the hole on the right.

 

The End–quite enough, eh?

High cold ones, and lots of patterns in a complex sky

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 temperature and humidity profile obtained from a weather balloon launched at about 3:30 PM yesterday afternoon from the U of AZCats.
The temperature and humidity profile obtained from a weather balloon launched at about 3:30 PM yesterday afternoon from the U of AZCats with some suggested cloud levels.  The Altcoumulus level is in doubt. the others are pretty straight forward.  Notice how high those little Cu were yesterday afternoon, about 16,000 feet above sea level, or about  13,000 feet above Catalina, with bases at a cold -13°C or so.  No ice came out of those, though.  Likely droplets too small, or short-lived.
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6:45 PM. A very narrow line of Altocumulus castellanus and floccus virgae approaches Catalina.
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6:46 PM. Let us exercise our curiosity and examine this element in more detail below.
6:47 PM. Altocumulus floccus virgae. Another example of how the top of a storm, as here, can be composed of droplet cloud while the ice that forms in it falls out below. Here, the extreme dryness underneath the Altocu prevents long trails. The ice crystals wither so that they have almost no fallspeed soon after they have fallen out, leaving a flat bottom of tiny ice crystals.
6:47 PM. Altocumulus floccus virgae. Another example of how the top of a storm, as here, can be composed of droplet cloud while the ice that forms in it falls out below. Here, the extreme dryness underneath the Altocu prevents long trails. The ice crystals wither so that they have almost no fallspeed soon after they have fallen out, leaving a flat bottom of tiny ice crystals.  When you see tiny cloudlets like this spewing ice, you KNOW that the temperature has to be extremely low, and colder than -30° C (-22°C) would be a good starting guess.  Actually, guessing “-31.3° ” would be more impressive to your friends or neighbors….   It was a pretty scene, that’s for sure.
5:37 PM. Pretty iridescence occasionally erupted in newly formed Cirrocumulus, newly, as within seconds or in the last minute when the cloud droplets are extremely tiny, less than 10 microns in diameter. You don't see iridescence in clouds with droplets much larger than that.
5:37 PM. Pretty iridescence occasionally erupted in newly formed Cirrocumulus, newly, as within seconds or in the last minute when the cloud droplets are extremely tiny, less than 10 microns in diameter. You don’t see iridescence in clouds with droplets much larger than that.  And, it has to be pretty much overhead to get the best views.  Hope you saw those yesterday.
5:41 PM.
5:41 PM.
5:43 PM. ??????? These are little cloudlets of ice up at Cirrus levels, but it looks exaclty like a field of normal Altocumulus to the ordinary eye. "Altocumulocirrus"?
5:43 PM. ??????? These are little cloudlets of ice up at Cirrus levels, but it looks exaclty like a field of normal Altocumulus to the ordinary eye. “Altocumulocirrus”?  Without doubt this “ice” composition would be contested by other observers.  However, cloud-maven person’s interpretation should be used.  Now it is likely that the ice in these clouds first formed on what we deem as “cloud condensation nuclei”, and it might be likely that water saturation was reached.  But, if there was an instant of liquid, is certainly transitioned to ice in seconds since the temperatures at Cirrus levels were well below -40° C.   I don’t believe this was at the same level as the Altocu shown in the beginning of this writeup, yet it wasn’t as high as the highest Cirrus yesterday (up around the -50° C level).
6:07 PM. An example of how complicated the cloud scene was yesterday. The whitish clouds in rolls were icy cirriform clouds, and the delicated clouds were HIGHER Cirrocumulus and Cirrus. Cirrocumulus yesterday was indeed where most cloud schematics put it, at Cirrus levels, though probably half the time its in the mid-levels were Altocumulus clouds reside. So, with Altocumulus-like clouds at Cirrus levels and Cirrocu on top of Cirrus, it was really a crazy cloud day yesterday.
6:07 PM. An example of how complicated the cloud scene was yesterday. The whitish clouds in rolls were icy cirriform clouds, and the delicated clouds were HIGHER Cirrocumulus and Cirrus. Cirrocumulus yesterday was indeed where most cloud schematics put it, at Cirrus levels, though probably half the time its in the mid-levels were Altocumulus clouds reside. So, with Altocumulus-like clouds at Cirrus levels and Cirrocu on top of Cirrus, it was really a crazy cloud day yesterday.  At the very top of this photo were Altocu that were immediately ice clouds that might have comprised a separate third level of clouds.  Need a Lear jet to get there fast to resolve these many guesses.
5:07 PM. Jumping around in time.... These were some of the best scenes yesterday IMO, those oh-so-delicate patterns in those cold Cirrocumulus clouds, ones that transitioned to Cirrus clouds downwind.
5:07 PM. Jumping around in time here…. These were some of the best scenes yesterday IMO, those oh-so-delicate patterns in those cold Cirrocumulus clouds, ones that transitioned to Cirrus clouds downwind.
5:08 PM.
5:08 PM. Same patch Cirrocu.  Note Cirrus forming in the lower portion of this photo, once Cirrocu.  BTW, all power lines should be placed under ground.
2:29 PM. Amid some real Cumulus fractus was some Cirrus "cumulus mimicry" I've termed "Cumulo-cirrus". Can you spot the fakes at Cirrus levels? Its pretty hard.
2:29 PM. Amid some real Cumulus fractus was some Cirrus “cumulus mimicry” I’ve termed “Cumulo-cirrus”. Can you spot the fakes at Cirrus levels? Its pretty hard.
2:29 PM. OK, I give up. Here's a zoomed shot of Cumulus fractus mimicry by clouds at Cirrus levels. Might have been some droplets, too, before converting to ice.
2:29 PM. OK, I give up. Here’s a zoomed shot of Cumulus fractus mimicry by clouds at Cirrus levels. Might have been some droplets, too, before converting to ice.  These kinds of clouds suggest significant turbulence at this level, as would be in a regular Cumulus fractus cloud.

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.

The End

“Peru’s Niño”

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):

Sea surface temperature anomalies as of yesterday from the Navy!
Sea surface temperature anomalies as of yesterday from the Navy!  Wow.  That hot water is fueling giang Cumulonimbus clouds, ones that spew out huge anvils that can affect the weather in the mid-latitudes, disrupt the normal winter patterns of where highs and lows like to go.  Could such a warm anomaly, limited to the near coastal region of South America, have created this astounding winter in the West?

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.

Hmmmmm.

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

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2:33 PM.  Yesterday afternoon saw a few globs of lenticular forming on top of mini_Cumulus clouds, ones that made you think the summer rain season could be at hand, given the 90+ heat of yesterday around these parts.
12:52 PM.
12:52 PM.  A high  (above 30 kft above the ground) and cold (less than -40°C patch of Cirrocumulus cloud that is going to transition to CIrrus over the next 10-20 minutes.
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1:12 PM:  Later that same patch as those cloudlets spread out and merge into just an ordinary Cirrus after being that delicate-looking patch of Cirrocumulus. Most Cirrocumulus clouds are not this cold, but rather evaporate or fatten into larger elements of “Altocumulus” clouds, rather than transition to Cirrus.
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Had a nice sunset a couple days ago (15th), some liquid Altocumulus cloud slivers with higher Cirrus.

The End

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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.)

Iridescence, jet streak Cirrus warn of overnight “middlin'” storm

I guess “billows” (“undulatus” in cloudspeak) two days ago in the late afternoon wasn’t enough of a sign that the weather was changing. Yesterday we had fast moving Cirrocumulus with rainbows in it, and as the sun was setting, “jet streak Cirrus”, a line of Cirrus clouds often seen in the very core of high altitude, powerful jet streams passed overhead.

How hard was the wind blowing up there in that Cirrus last evening? Oh, our Tuscon balloon sounding, lifting off around 3:30 PM, going up about a 1000 feet a minute to, indicates that the max wind up there at Cirrus level was 146 knots (just under 170 mph)! Yikes. Poor balloon.  Must be in France by now.

The storm has been a bit of a disappointment in rain production. We’ve only logged 0.22 inches1.  Not as much as foretold here, 0.33 inches, but that forecast was a better prediction than  by “Weather Underground Robotics” (0.58 inches).  Its great to beat a robot!

We had another sign yesterday in the fastest moving Cirrocumulus clouds I think you’ll ever see around here (about 100 mph), ones at just 18,000 feet above sea level, 15 kft above Catalina:   rainbows of color near the sun called iridescence (also called “irisation”).   Here, as is the norm here,  are a few too many shots of the same thing2.

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10:54 AM. The fist of weather is used as a prop to indicate that these colors are forming a ring around the sun.
10:54 AM. The fist of weather is used as a prop to indicate that these colors are forming a ring around the sun. Usually you try to find a light standard somewhere…maybe a “gopro cam on a stick” might do it. Just don’t look at the sun when you do this.
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10:57 AM.
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10:57 AM, pulling back some for perspective. As we often say here, “so pretty.” And look at how tiny the granulation is in this Cirrocumulus cloud is!

The colors themselves, of course,  don’t warn of something about to happen, but the fast movement from the southwest did; a powerful jet stream is over you.   That strong stream, the result of temperature gradients in the atmosphere, is dividing deep warm air from deep cold air, and steers the alternations of high and low pressure centers, and with those alternations of lows and highs along the jet stream, air is drawn from different latitude zones and the boundaries where those different masses of air meet at the surface, is called fronts.  Here, such as last night, its nearly always cold ones.

The rest of the day was pretty exciting, the wind arising suddenly yesterday morning, along with our usual great visibility, and darker blue wintertime skies, made the clouds stand out more.

7:56 AM. Looking to the west at a scattering of Stratocu patches.
7:56 AM. Looking to the west at a scattering of Stratocu patches.
7:57 AM. Highlight on the hills above Saddlebrook. Stratocumulus overhead.
7:57 AM. Highlight on the hills above Saddlebrook. Stratocumulus overhead.
8:42 AM. This patch of Stratocumulus was the result of a lift zone that often produces clouds headed our way in southwesterly flow. The difference here is how limited in size this patch was allowing you to see where that lift zone was. Downstream, though, descending motions creamed this cloud, one that sat there most of the early part of the day. Usually a whole layer is over us, with a clearing visible toward the SW horizon.
8:42 AM. This patch of Stratocumulus was the result of a lift zone that often produces clouds headed our way in southwesterly flow. The difference here is how limited in size this patch was allowing you to see where that lift zone was. Downstream, though, descending motions creamed this cloud, one that sat there most of the early part of the day. Usually a whole layer is over us, with a clearing visible toward the SW horizon.
11:02 AM. Still out there, still limited in size. Wind here now 20-30 mph with stronger puffs.
11:02 AM. Still out there pretty much near the same spot, still limited in size. Wind here now 20-30 mph with stronger puffs.

 

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11:40 AM. By this time it had shifted closer to us, still forming on the southwest end, dissipating at the downwind end where the cloud is so ragged due to mixing with dry, descending air.
12:42 PM. Creeping closer, but still a standing wave, dissipating as it came toward us.
12:42 PM. Creeping closer, but still a standing wave, dissipating as it came toward us.  It was about this time that it disappeared, the sky becoming more complex with no simple standing waves.

The sky at last, considering the power of the trough approaching, FINALLY began to fill in.  Started looking around for the first sign of ice having formed in these clouds as the air aloft became cooler. Along with this filling in by Cumulus and Stratocumulus clouds, some sun highlights began to appear on our mountains, contrasted by the darkening skies above.

1:55 PM. Stratocumulus banks up against the Catalinas, Samaniego Ridge.
1:55 PM. Stratocumulus clouds  bank up against the Catalinas, Samaniego Ridge.
2:03 PM. While Stratocumulus banked up against the mountains, huge temporary clearings occurred elsewhere. Notice how shredded the tops of these clouds are and how the tops lean to the right. They're revealing the great increase in the wind with height, and yet, how dry it was above this layer (that, by the ragged cloud tops mixing with the very dry air just above them.)
2:03 PM. While Stratocumulus banked up against the mountains, huge temporary clearings occurred elsewhere. Notice how shredded the tops of these clouds are and how the tops lean to the right. They’re revealing the great increase in the wind with height, and yet, how dry it was above this layer (that, by the ragged cloud tops mixing with the very dry air just above them.)
3:38 PM. Here comes the Jet Streak Cirrus! Also about this time, the frontal windshift line, marked by low scud clouds in the cold air, began to appear on the NW horizon. It was an exciting moment. Here we go! FROPA within a coupla hours maybe. Well, took longer than that....
3:38 PM. Here comes the Jet Streak Cirrus! Also about this time, the frontal windshift line, marked by low scud clouds in the cold air, began to appear on the NW horizon. It was an exciting moment. Here we go! FROPA within a coupla hours maybe. Well, took longer than that….
3:52 PM. A little ruffle of Cirrocumulus leads the advance of the jet streak Cirrus.
3:52 PM. A little ruffle of Cirrocumulus leads the advance of the jet streak Cirrus.
4:11 PM. Cloud line forming above the frontal windshift line. Was progressing this way at this time, but was to stall, maybe back off.
4:11 PM. Cloud line forming above the frontal windshift line. Was progressing this way at this time, but was to stall, maybe back off.
4:11 PM. Zooming, floating over Saddlebrooke, this close up of our FROPA and windshift line. Ended up backing off, dissipating, maybe reforming later after dark.
4:11 PM. Zooming, floating over Saddlebrooke, this close up of our FROPA and windshift line. Ended up backing off, dissipating, maybe reforming later after dark.  These lowest clouds form in the colder air associated with the windshift line at the nose of the front as the moist air ahead of the front  mixes with it and is lifted.  We see this with most of our incoming cold fronts, and in our summer thunderstorms.  The best cases  form “arcus clouds”, a solid line just above and behind the windshift at the ground.  These kinds of ragged clouds, in cloudspeak, are called “pannus.”  Was pretty excited here, as no doubt you were, that FROPA (frontal passage) was imminent, might happen within the hour.  Nope.
4:40 PM. In the meantime, our jet streak CIrrus moved overhead, the clearing behind this thin band leading to some memorable fading sun highlights on the Catalinas.
4:40 PM. In the meantime, our jet streak CIrrus, above the Stratocumulus clouds,  moved overhead, the clearing behind this thin band leading to some memorable fading sun highlights on the Catalinas.
5:40 PM. No words needed.
5:40 PM. No words needed.
5:43 PM. "Fading sun and rain gauge." Another one of those exceptional scenes you won't find anywhere except on this blog. Tell your friends. A small mammal, termed a "packrat" is decimating my prickly pear wind protection for this gauge! A lot of rain loss occurs due to wind. drops missing the collector! It very upsetting to see this happen.
5:43 PM. “Fading sun and rain gauge.” Another one of those exceptional scenes you won’t find anywhere except on this blog. Tell your friends. A small mammal, termed a “packrat” is decimating my prickly pear wind protection for this gauge! A lot of rain loss occurs due to wind. drops missing the collector! It very upsetting to see this happen.
5:43 PM. Even the often despised teddy bear cholla can be so beautiful in this fading sun, the spines capturing it so well.
5:43 PM. Even the often despised teddy bear cholla can be so beautiful in this fading sun, the spines capturing it so well.

Eventually our jet streak Cirrus provided the background for another great sunset scene:

5:56 PM.
5:56 PM.

 

 

A 300 millibar (about 30,000 feet above sea level) with an IR satellite image for yesterday at 5 PM AST. Arrows denoted the jet streak Cirrus cloud, enhanced in the downwind region of the Baja mountains.
A 300 millibar (about 30,000 feet above sea level) with an IR satellite image for yesterday at 5 PM AST.   The Cirrus layer extended from about this height to around 35, 000 feet above sea level.   according to our TUS balloon sounding.  Arrows denoted the jet streak Cirrus cloud thatpassed over us,  enhanced in the downwind region of the Baja mountains.  Note that the wind at San Diego max wind was even slightly stronger than our wind max was at this level at152 knots.  This map is the courtesy of the University of Washington Huskies Weather Department.

Today’s clouds and weather

From that map above, you’ll see that there’s a “tail-dragger” trough still to the west of us and about over Sandy Ego (haha). That’s going to keep the air over us extremely cold, and with some sun, the Cumulus clouds that arrive are expected to have tops colder than -15 to -20° C, plenty cold enough for the formation of ice.
Ice means precip, snow up there, rain down here in spots. So, we could still pick up a few more hundredths if a shower happens to drop by. The chance of isolated very light showers in the area is 100%, but no one can tell you if one will actually land on us. You’ll have to be watching, mostly after 12 noon. Look to the west toward the Tortolita Mountains, terrain that ought to spawn one or two of those.

Looks like a longer dry spell ahead; several days to a week, maybe more.

The End

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1CoCoRahs gauge, btw. NWS-style gauge had only 0.20 inches, likely due to enhanced wind loss associated with my collapsing prickly pear protector.
2 I was driving and had to park and jump out of car to get these.  You only have seconds or maybe a minute or three to capture stuff like this.

Sunrise, sunset colors drench Gatalina, AZ; Cal storms reach epic proportions

We’re often confused with the California island, Catalina, and even places in Spain.   Google “Catalina” and see if I am lying again. Oh, maybe that was Catalonia, SP…

Nevertheless, isn’t it time to think about a new name for our “Census Designated Place”, Catalina?  In fact, at one time, each Catalina island and our Catalina, each had a marina to further confuse things by adding superficial similarities….

Think about it.

Some sunrise scenes among too many available to the writer from his camera card:

Let's look at the Tortolita Mountains, drenched in sunlight.
Let’s look at the Tortolita Mountains.
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Cirrocumulus on the fade.
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Highlighted Cirrocumulus.
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About as complex as a patch of Cirrocumulus could be. It did seem there were TWO levels of Cirrocu here, which might help explain criss-crossing patterns.
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Nice Altocumulus lenticularis in the usual spot downwind of Lemmon when the flow is from the W-SW up there.
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Wide angle view of our spectacular sunrise. How you experienced it live.

Now, for sunset color:

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5:47 PM. Will think of something later.
5:47 PM. Will think of something later.

As you may know, there is some violent weather hitting the West Coast, California in particular.  Let’s see what the Reno office of the NWS has to say about the incoming storm:

“…BLIZZARD WARNING IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 AM PST WEDNESDAY…

...WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 10 AM WEDNESDAY TO 4 AM
PST THURSDAY...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN RENO HAS ISSUED A BLIZZARD
WARNING, WHICH IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 AM PST WEDNESDAY. THE WINTER
STORM WARNING IS NOW IN EFFECT FROM 10 AM WEDNESDAY TO 4 AM PST
THURSDAY.

* TIMING: DANGEROUS BLIZZARD CONDITIONS DUE TO HEAVY SNOW AND
  STRONG WINDS WILL CONTINUE TODAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING.
  PERIODS OF MODERATE TO HEAVY SNOW WILL CONTINUE THROUGH
  WEDNESDAY NIGHT.

SNOW ACCUMULATIONS THROUGH THURSDAY MORNING: 5 TO 10 FEET ABOVE 7000 FEET WITH 3 TO 7 FEET AT LAKE TAHOE LEVEL.

(Note:  The large font size, the capitalization, suggest, as we know, that the writer is screaming, which I am.)

* WINDS: SOUTHWEST 20 TO 30 MPH WITH GUSTS TO 60 MPH THROUGH
  WEDNESDAY MORNING. SIERRA RIDGE GUSTS OVER 100 MPH.

* SNOW LEVELS: BELOW LAKE LEVEL...MAY BRIEFLY RISE TO 6500 FEET
  THIS AFTERNOON BEFORE FALLING AGAIN.

* IMPACTS: DANGEROUS LIFE THREATENING BLIZZARD CONDITIONS WITH
  NEAR ZERO VISIBILITY WILL EXIST FOR TRAVEL AND OUTDOOR
  ACTIVITIES WITH HEAVY SNOW ACCUMULATION ON ALL SIERRA ROADS.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THIS IS A LIFE THREATENING SITUATION. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TRAVEL!
ROAD CREWS AND FIRST RESPONDERS MAY NOT BE ABLE TO RESCUE YOU.
STAY INDOORS UNTIL THE SNOW AND WIND SUBSIDE. EVEN A SHORT WALK
COULD BE DEADLY IF YOU BECOME DISORIENTED1."

As we know, extremely heavy snows in the Sierras can trigger cannabalism, It is our sincere wish that those affected by this severe storm curb his or her appetite for humans, i.e,  that cannibalism does not break out in the Reno-Tahoe area, or ANYWHERE (capitalization for emphasis) in the Sierras during this terrible storm or its aftermath.

The End
————————–
1Thanks to Prof.  (emeritus) Roger Pielke, Sr., Colo State, for passing this warning along.  His son, a great scientist as well, btw, has the exact same name, and that’s why THIS Roger goes by “senior.”  Thought you’d like to know that.

Summer-like storm surprises with frequent thunder and a half inch of rain in 18 min

Here are the latest 24 h totals, ending this morning the 23rd at 3 AM AST from your Pima County ALERT gauge network.  Our own amount over this period is embedded  for comparison purposes:

Gauge         24         Name                        Location
    ID#             hours
    —-     —-       —-        —-       —-         —-       —————–            ———————
Catalina Area
    1010          0.71      Golder Ranch                 Horseshoe Bend Rd in Saddlebrooke
    1020          0.83      Oracle Ranger Station         approximately 0.5 mi SW of Oracle
    1040           0.87      Dodge Tank                   Edwin Rd 1.3 mi E of Lago Del Oro Parkway
    1050           0.59      Cherry Spring                approximately 1.5 mi W of Charouleau Gap
    1060           1.10      Pig Spring                   approximately 1.1 mi NE of Charouleau Gap
    1070            0.79      Cargodera Canyon             NE corner of Catalina State Park
    1080            0.79      CDO @ Rancho Solano          Cañada Del Oro Wash NE of Saddlebrooke
    1100            0.67      CDO @ Golder Rd              Cañada Del Oro Wash at Golder Ranch Rd
xxxx     0.58     Sutherland Heights, Catalina

Santa Catalina Mountains
    1030         1.14      Oracle Ridge                 Oracle Ridge, approximately 1.5 mi N of Rice Peak
    1090         1.34      Mt. Lemmon                   Mount Lemmon
    1110        1.22      CDO @ Coronado Camp          Cañada Del Oro Wash 0.3 mi S of Coronado Camp
    1130         0.87      Samaniego Peak               Samaniego Peak on Samaniego Ridge
    1140         0.79      Dan Saddle                   Dan Saddle on Oracle Ridge
    2150         0.71      White Tail                   Catalina Hwy 0.8 mi W of Palisade Ranger Station
    2280         0.71      Green Mountain               Green Mountain
    2290        0.35      Marshall Gulch               Sabino Creek 0.6 mi SSE of Marshall Gulch

Yesterday, with it many twists and turns, with that significant rain overnight providing a happy, moist beginning.  Then, there was a sad middle of the day when two windshifts passed, the second a major, long-lived one  one bringing a substantial drop in temperature and fronted by a dramatic arcus cloud, but there was no rain to speak of with either……at first.

Then  the surprise, the unlikely resolution of the sad middle of the day just as a dismal clearing advanced from the west:  a highly unusual thunderama and cloud burst beginning at 1 PM, one gushing a half an inch of rain in 18 min!  This,  just when it looked like a total dud was certain from the passage of that front.  That  “TRW++” (weather text for an extra heavy thunderstorm),   provided the happy ending, thus making it a day truly out of Hallmark.  The total rain was 0.58 inches, with the three day total at 1.03 inches!  Yay, flower help!  Rain table at bottom.

Though it was late December and at the winter solstice, the breezy 63° F damp air yesterday morning made it feel like you had awakened from your long vacation flight and found yourself in Hawaii or Miami.  It was a truly remarkable, even a joyful feeling.

With that strong upper low WAY off to the southwest of us yesterday morning,  and moving right this way, you KNEW that the rain wasn’t over, that thought adding to the joy of yesterday’s early morning.  0.34 inches had fallen mostly during the night before, adding to the humid feel.

Too, yesterday morning’s joy had a withering effect on all those dry weeks that had preceded these past few days with measurable rain,  maybe even withering the hard feelings that remain in many of us about those disappointing Big Niño forecasts of a wet Southwest last year.  You were finally  beginning to feel that you could  let go of those hard, grinding, grudge-holding feelings you had against  weather forecasters, the ones that  misled us so much last year about the Big Winter in the Southwest due to the Big Niño, a record Niño,  they told us, indeed, a “Godzilla Niño.”    Then, what followed was, “The Big Winter that Didn’t Happen.”  And it will be years before we get another Big Niño!

But, let us move on from that tirade to current events; you can see that I am personally completely over the hard feelings of last year’s disappointing forecasts and have moved ahead,  as we need to do in life…

Now, finally (!), for yesterday’s clouds, so fantastic in all their presentations and drama, that one really could finally forget the busted Big Niño forecasts of last year2:

Oh, yeah, the cloud diary for yesterday, probably more than you need to know, but, what the heck:

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7:56 AM. A shower complex heads north toward Catalina, only to graze the city.
7:57 AM.
7:57 AM.  Stratocumulus clouds topped Sam (Samaniego) Ridge as that shower approached, the lower bases telling you how humid the air was.  Dewpoints were in the low 50s!
8:04 AM. Gettin' closer, gettin' pumped for a nice rain blast in tropical air!
8:04 AM. Gettin’ closer, gettin’ pumped for a nice rain blast in tropical air!
8:22 AM. That complex of rain mostly slud off to the east of us, as so many have this year. However, note the lack of good shafting, just rainy areas that are a little thicker and thinner. This tells you that they're really not Cumulonimbus clouds, but rather shallow ones not having strong updrafts. Earlier, it appeared to be a complex with a Cumulonimbus in it, and in that case, you would see strong shafting.
8:22 AM. That complex of rain mostly slud off to the east of us, as so many have this year. However, note the lack of good shafting, just rainy areas that are a little thicker and thinner. This tells you that they’re really not Cumulonimbus clouds, but rather shallow ones not having strong updrafts. Earlier, it appeared to be a complex with a Cumulonimbus in it, and in that case, you would see strong shafting.  Wonderfully dismal scene, I suppose to those of you with normal sky values;  sunny and blue are just fine.  Those of you with sky values like that might just as well get the HELL off this page right now!  There’s a lot more dismality ahead, except maybe for the next couple of photos…
10:24 AM. Sky breaking out more and more, probably some non-cloud maven people exulting over the clearing. But, it was still moist and humid, and no real windshift had occurred, something that woud presage descending air behind it, and a true clearing. Indeed, true cloud maven folk were exulting over the clearing since with the low aloft approaching, some warming of the ground might lead to real Cumulonimbus clouds while the air aloft was cooling!
10:24 AM. Sky breaking out more and more, probably some non-cloud maven people exulting over the clearing. But, it was still moist and humid, and no real windshift had occurred, something that woud presage descending air behind it, and a true clearing. Indeed, true cloud maven folk were exulting over the clearing since with the low aloft approaching, some warming of the ground might lead to real Cumulonimbus clouds while the air aloft was cooling!  In this photo are Cumulus humilis and fractus (down low, darkish cloudlets) a riff of Altocumulus castellanus (indicating mid-level instability) and above those, a separate layer of Altocumulus with ripples (“undulatus”), and maybe Cirrocumulus adjacent to the higher Ac clouds.  A Cu fattening on  calories of sunlight can be seen on the horizon, center.  I hope I can be done with this cloud story before dark today….
10:22 AM. Here we go! A line of Cumulus congestus and "soft-serve" Cumulonimbus clouds HAS to be associated with a windshift line. Its got to come through Catalina. This view is looking to the NW. Such a band is likely to extend to the SW from here, and beyond the SW horizon, so you won't see it yet over there.
10:22 AM. Here we go! A line of Cumulus congestus and “soft-serve” Cumulonimbus clouds HAS to be associated with a windshift line. Its got to come through Catalina. This view is looking to the NW. Such a band is likely to extend to the SW from here, and beyond the SW horizon, so you won’t see it yet over there.  Altocumulus perlucidus clouds overlay Catalina at this time along with a few puffs of Cumulus fractus.  Its still humid.
11:44 AM. Pretty scene of course, but look carefully on the horizon below the bases of the clouds and you will see arc-shaped clouds curving back toward the NW. THis view is to the SW. Those arc-shaped clouds are that windshift line where air converges to form a line of clouds as was seen in the prior photo. Too many invervening clouds prevent seeing a line here, but as a cloud maven junior or expert, you know there will be a LINE! We hope to have a lot of good testomonials at the next club concerning who saw these arched clouds first.
11:44 AM. Pretty scene of course, but look carefully on the horizon below the bases of the clouds and you will see arc-shaped clouds curving back toward the NW. This view is to the SW. Those arc-shaped clouds are that windshift line where air converges to form a line of clouds as was seen in the prior photo. Too many intervening clouds prevent seeing a line here, but as a cloud maven junior or expert, you know there will be a LINE! We hope to have a lot of good testimonials at the next club concerning who saw these arched clouds first.  Right here, you KNEW something dramatic was about to happen to the sky, and almost certainly something to your rain gauge as well.
12:25 PM. Here it comes! No telling how many inches we might get! (However, the shafting looks weak to me... Not congruent with big "Cumulonims" with good updrafts....so some doubt creeping in.)
12:25 PM. Here it comes across the OV! No telling how many inches we might get! (However, the shafting looks weak.. Not congruent with big “Cumulonims” with good updrafts in them….so some doubt beginning to creep in.)
12:31 PM. I feel like I am in Louisiana or Alabama awaiting a cold front. THis was SUCH a dramatic scene, I know you were having a hard time constraining yourselves, and not running to tell neighbors about it.
12:31 PM. I feel like I am in Louisiana or Alabama awaiting a cold front. This was SUCH a dramatic scene, I know, like me,  you were having a hard time constraining yourselves;  not running to tell neighbors about it.
12:32 PM. Zooming in on a fantastic scene for Arizona! Camera can't fire fast enough!
12:32 PM. Zooming in on a fantastic scene for Arizona! Camera can’t fire fast enough!  I was getting light-headed here.
12:39 PM. The windshift to the NW has passed the house, but those arched clouds above the windshift are getting pretty ragged. And where's the rain?
12:39 PM. The windshift to the NW has passed the house, the temperature is dropping like mad, but those arched clouds above the windshift are getting pretty ragged.  And where’s the rain?  Pretty scene, though.
12:45 PM. Within a few minutes, a few hundredths of an inch fell, propelled on gusty NW winds, but then it quit, the low clouds banked up harmlessly against the Catalinas, which still had sun on them! This was looking really bad. No rain was in sight, either.
12:45 PM. Within a few minutes, a few hundredths of an inch fell, propelled on gusty NW winds, but then it quit, the low clouds banked up harmlessly against the Catalinas, which still had sun on them! This was looking really bad. No rain was in sight, either.  Pretty scene, though.  We don’t want to lose sight of beauty when its in front us, even when we’re getting sad about the turn of developments, which in a Hallmark movie would be that point when the owner of the building that a bakery or flower shop is in, says he has to lick them out because he has sold the building.  Yep, that’s how bad it looked right at this point.
12:50 PM. The arcus clouds and windshift had moved in from the west, and so this clearing out there HAD to be approaching, the day's rain likely over. I can only imagine how glum you all were out there in seeing this abyssal scene, "sunny skies just ahead", spoken sarcastically.
12:50 PM. The arcus clouds and wind shift had moved in from the west, and so this clearing out there HAD to be approaching, the day’s rain likely over. I can only imagine how glum you all were out there in seeing this abyssal scene, “sunny skies just ahead”, spoken sarcastically.
12:53 PM. The Stratus clouds now hung even lower, as though wanting you to touch their empty innards, a truly humiliating scene. I have never seen such vacant clouds, so filled with portent only minutes before. This was, indeed the low point of the day.
12:53 PM. The Stratus clouds now hung even lower, as though wanting you to touch their empty innards, a truly humiliating scene. I have never seen such vacant clouds, so filled with portent only minutes before. This was, indeed the low point of the day.  The sun would soon burn them off.
1:02 PM. Just after the most amazing thing, a blast of THUNDER overhead E or SE, And, it was starting to rain! But here you can see lower clouds (Stratus or Cumulus fractus) that are separate from a higher layer (top). So, where the HECK was the Cumulonimbus?
1:02 PM. Just after the most amazing thing;  a blast of THUNDER overhead E or SE, And, it was starting to rain! But here you can see lower clouds (Stratus or Cumulus fractus) that are separate from a higher layer (top). So, where the HECK was the Cumulonimbus?
1:09 PM. Heart of the blast, visibility is less than a quarter mile, thunder, close to overhead it seemed, had become more frequent, once every minute to two, unheard in winter storms. It almost exactly the intensity of our summer ones. Completely out of control here snapping photos of nothing but rain, hoping camera battery doesn't give out. But, then I know I would have had company with all of the CMJ's out there losing your minds over this as well. What a day, Mr. and Mrs. Catalina!
1:09 PM. Heart of the blast;  visibility is less than a quarter mile, thunder, close to overhead it seemed, had become more frequent, once every minute to two, unheard in winter storms. This winter storm, on the solstice, was almost exactly the intensity of our summer ones. Completely out of control here snapping photos of nothing but rain, hoping camera battery doesn’t give out. But, then I know I would have had company with all of the CMJ’s out there losing your minds over this as well. What a day, Mr. and Mrs. Catalina!   Is this what “global warming” has ahead for us, as one Arizona scientist mused?  Summer-like storms in the heart of winter?  Maybe it would be so bad….  Hardest rain I’d seen here in nine winters.
1:18 PM. A few hundred photos, 18 min, and a half an inch of rain later, I ventured out to see what was the result. Here, ponding had occurred in a swale. I wondered whether toads would re-emerge after this warmish rain?
1:18 PM. A few hundred photos, 18 min, and a half an inch of rain later, I ventured out to see what was the result. Here, ponding had occurred in a swale following the gush.  Considering the warmish nature of the rain, would toads now re-emerge along with flying ants?
4:42 PM.
4:42 PM.  One of the rewards of clearing skies, are the quilted-with-sunlight mountains sides of the Catalinas.
4:43 PM. While plump Cumulus clouds and dark skies abounded, these clouds no longer reached the level where ice could form, and were "dry" clouds as far as precip goes.
4:43 PM. While plump Cumulus clouds and dark skies abounded, these clouds no longer reached the level where ice could form, and were “dry” clouds as far as precip goes.
4:51 PM. Highlight toward the Gap.
4:51 PM. Highlight toward the Gap.
5:16 PM. More evening color; note rain gauge.
5:16 PM. More evening color; note rain gauge.  Such a pretty scene!

 

The End

New storm marches toward Catalina!  Due in tomorrow afternoon.


1Meteorologists, outside of Buffalo and Seattle,  have inverted values regarding clear and cloudy.

2I hope we get 30 inches THIS water year, dammitall, busting this year’s seasonal forecasts of a  dry Southwest.

 

 

A stragne and wonderful day

Many strange1  and wonderful sights were seen yesterday; I could feel the excitement out there as one cloud  microstructural mystery after another regaled our Catalina skies.

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7:24 AM. Here, a tiny highlighted flake of Altocumulus floating above a mass of light snow/ice crystals, maybe straight below it. This is one the classic mysteries we deal with in “cloud microstructure”;  the oddity of nature preferring to generate a droplet before an ice crystal at least to somewhere in the -30°s C. Liquid clouds often are at the top of Altostratus and Nimbostratus (rainy or snowy days) providing the tops aren’t too much colder than -30° C. How strange is it to have liquid water at the lowest temperatures in a cloud system, with all the ice and snow underneath, as shown in this photo (though here they are no longer connected).
7:24 AM/ I think there is itty bitty droplet cloud at the very top bright dot there.
7:24 AM/ I think there is itty bitty droplet cloud at the very top bright dot there.  A droplet cloud was likely much broader to have produced all the ice we see below that bright dot of liquid cloud.
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7:26 AM. Looking afar, to the SW, there’s what appears to be an Altocumulus (droplet cloud) with a few ice crystals underneat it, especially to the right.

How cold are these clouds?  Lets look at the TUS sounding, launched at about 3:30 AM yesterday morning.

The TUS rawinsonde balloon data for yesterday morning before dawn.
The TUS rawinsonde balloon data for yesterday morning before dawn.  That Altocumulus layer, and the other clouds above were likely at the pinched point above, topping out at -27°C and up around 23,000 feet above sea level (400 millibars), pretty darn cold.  But, as you saw in the 3rd photo, not a lot of ice is being generated at this temperature by that patch of Altocumulus clouds to the SW.  Not sure why, but its pretty remarkable and that is likely due to small droplet sizes AND a lack of ice nuclei, most of which are known to originate with soil particles  When you see these rare occurrences of all or mostly droplet clouds at low temperatures (<-20° C in particular, get ready to see hole punch and ice canals produced by aircraft, a kind of inadvertent cloud seeding.

That bank of Altocumulus was racing at more than 50 mph toward Catalina, and so it got here in a hurry.    And, as it got closer, it was also getting more into some airways at that height, possibly descents into PHX since the height of those clouds was below normal jet cruising levels at 23,000 feet Above Sea Level.

7:55 AM. This is one of the strangest sights I have ever seen. Why? On the left side of this photo, the clouds are completely glaciated, composed of ice, while along a line to the right, there's no sign of ice in Altocumulus clouds that appear to be at the same height (namely, temperature). I have no explanation for this scene, except those involving a lot hand-waving, so we'll just let go.
7:55 AM. This is one of the strangest sights I have ever seen. Why? On the left side of this photo, the clouds are completely glaciated, composed of ice, while along a line to the right, there’s no sign of ice in Altocumulus clouds that appear to be at the same height (namely, temperature). I have no explanation for this scene, except those involving a lot hand-waving, so we’ll just let go, except that we speculate that the Ac layer was a little lower (warmer)?  Could have been.

Now for the aircraft effects.  Hardly a few minutes go by before aircraft began marking up this cold Altocumulus layer.  Notice that it doesn’t seem to be producing much or any ice on its own, making aircraft inadvertent seeding lines and holes where tremendous numbers of ice crystals are generated immediately present.   Here’s the first of many:

8:16 AM. An icy canal due to the passage of an aircraft rips through this pristine layer of Altocumulus whose temperature was around -25° C.
8:16 AM. An icy canal due to the passage of an aircraft rips through this pristine layer of Altocumulus whose temperature was around -25° C.  The view is looking S toward Tucson, but is unlikely to have been an aircraft landing there because this layer was above 20,000 feet Above Sea Level.  An aircraft lanidng at TUS would be much lower, this close.  The passage of the aircraft was likely 10 or more minutes before this photo.
8:19 AM. The ice canal is broadening due to turbulence, and ice is not plainly evident to all Cloud Maven Juniors or we will have to go over discerning ice from droplet clouds at the next club meeting.
8:19 AM. The ice canal is broadening due to turbulence, and ice is not plainly evident to all Cloud Maven Juniors or we will have to go over discerning ice from droplet clouds at the next club meeting.
8:20 AM. A view of the northwest end of this aircraft-produced ice canal. Several others became apparent, too.
8:20 AM. A view of the northwest end of this aircraft-produced ice canal. Several others became apparent, too.

Heading for Catalina, this:

9:11 AM. Heading for Catalina, a whole mess of aircraft induced ice in that poor Altocumulus layer. The hole punch was likely due to an aircraft climbing out of or descending into TUS. The age of a hole that large, with ice below it like this would be something of the order of at least half an hour to an hour old. Just behind the hole is a new contrail in the Ac clouds,
9:11 AM. Heading for Catalina, a whole mess of aircraft induced ice in that poor Altocumulus layer. The hole punch was likely due to an aircraft climbing out of or descending into TUS. The age of a hole that large, with ice below it like this would be something of the order of at least half an hour to an hour old. Just behind the hole is a new contrail in the Ac clouds,
9:23 AM. Hole punch area and ice canal arrive over Catalina! Losing control here, taking photo and photo, now looking for stragne optics, usually observed with aircraft produced ice particles because they are so numerous, compete for the available moisture and therefore remain tiny and perfect, prisms, plates, short column ice crystals, ones that can do a lot of optical stuff.
9:23 AM. Hole punch area and ice canal arrive over Catalina! Losing control here, taking photo and photo, now looking for stragne optics, usually observed with aircraft produced ice particles because they are so numerous, compete for the available moisture and therefore remain tiny and perfect, prisms, plates, short column ice crystals, ones that can do a lot of optical stuff.

Here’s the south end of that ice canal:

9:24 AM.
9:24 AM.  Also note iconic horse wind vane, and real wind vane atop a personal weather station.  Doesn’t everyone have a “PWS”?

Looking straight up at the icy heart of a hole punch region caused by an aircraft.  I am sure you have never done this before!  This is gonna be a great blog with all these new things for you!

9:27 AM. Look at the detail in the ice, those fine, fine strands! Amazing. The thickest strand might be due to the higher liquiid water in the heart of one of those little Altocumulus cloudlets. ???
9:27 AM. Look at the detail in the ice, those fine, fine strands! Amazing. The thickest strand might be due to the higher liquiid water in the heart of one of those little Altocumulus cloudlets. ???  Look how much wind shear there is, those little itty bitty ice crystals falling so far behind the parent cloud, the streamers flattening out because the poor little guys, already undersized to begin with, are getting smaller and smaller, the fall velocity getting less and less until the strands are almost horizontal.
9:27 AM. Looking at this gorgeously uniform layer of Altocumulus perlucidus 9honeycomb of elements) translucidus (no shadows).
9:27 AM. Looking at this gorgeously uniform layer of Altocumulus perlucidus 9honeycomb of elements) translucidus (no shadows).  To me this is a phenomenal scene, though maybe to u, not so much, which is understandable.
9:30 AM. The expected intense optical phenomena began to occur in these aircraft contrail remains.
9:30 AM. The expected intense optical phenomena began to occur in these aircraft contrail remains.  Here a parhelia, or sundog.  More fireworks in a bit.
9:30 AM. While the parhelia was in its full display, very intense, this was the ice canal passing overhead. Look at the regular spacing of these strands of ice, Might be due to the spacing of the cloudlets in the Altocumulus layer, the spaces between them not producing much ice, or, as we know, contrails tend to clump behind the aircraft likely due to wingtip vortices interacting and combining masses of exhaust water and crud.
9:30 AM. While the parhelia was in its full display, very intense, this was the ice canal passing overhead. Look at the regular spacing of these strands of ice, Might be due to the spacing of the cloudlets in the Altocumulus layer, the spaces between them not producing much ice, or, as we know, contrails tend to clump behind the aircraft likely due to wingtip vortices interacting and combining masses of exhaust water and crud.   This is now about an hour and fifteen minutes old, since we saw it way out to the west at 8:16 AM shortly after it formed.
9:37 AM. Here's what a new aircraft contrail in these clouds looks like, this one about 60 s old looks like
9:37 AM. Here’s what a new aircraft contrail in these clouds looks like, this one about 60 s old looks like.  Note all the irregularity in the contrail from the get-go.

As the south end of the original ice canal began to enter the refraction zone for simple ice crystals around the sun, usually at the 22° degree halo position, things began to light up with a particularly bright circumzenithal arc (more often observed on a halo) or colorful (in this case) partial  “reverse halo”.   The colors (iridescence)  due to the refracting of light within very small ice crystals.   Normally iridescence is seen near the sun in Cirrocumulus clouds or the then edges of other droplet clouds.   Very exciting.

9:44 AM. Halo curving in the wrong direction, away from the sun!
9:44 AM. A part of a halo curving in the wrong direction, away from the sun! (This is actually called a circumzenithal arc).
9:44 AM. Taking up you up thousands and thousands of feet via a zoomed view.
9:44 AM. Taking up you up thousands and thousands of feet via a zoomed view.   Pretty cool, eh?  Notice how much its moved in just seconds,  You really have to let your coffee get cold if you’re a photographer and you want to get the best shots of this kind of phenomenon.  You really can’t do anything but keep watching every second!
9:44 AM, again. All these changes took place within the minute between 9:44 and 9:45 AM!
9:44 AM, again. All these changes took place within the minute between 9:44 and 9:45 AM!  Here, the next grouping of ice strands is being lit up.
9:48 AM. Just a pretty scene. Altocumulus perlucidus translucidus, pocked with aircraft contrails, if you look real close.
9:48 AM. Just a pretty scene. Altocumulus perlucidus translucidus, pocked with aircraft contrails, if you look real close.  Make me move:  $1 billion dollars…
9:54 AM. Its not even 10 AM and now this comes along, this fabulously complex zone of CIrrocumulus (at the same level of the Ac clouds) at the tail of the Altocumulus. You can see the much higher Cirrus going crossways, lower center. See TUS sounding for height of Ci.
9:54 AM. Its not even 10 AM and now this comes along, this fabulously complex zone of CIrrocumulus (at the same level of the Ac clouds) at the tail of the Altocumulus. You can see the much higher Cirrus going crossways, lower center. See TUS sounding for height of Ci.

Then this strange sight:

12:29 PM. A row of Altocumulus or Cirrocumulus, each formed by a little upward bump in the atmosphere of a layer just a hair below saturation. Just rising a few hundred feet or so causes these cloudlets to form. Why aren't they everywhere? Might be drier. Bumps like this are always present in the atmosphere, especially if there are mountains upwind.
12:29 PM. A row of Altocumulus or Cirrocumulus, each formed by a little upward bump in the atmosphere of a layer just a hair below saturation. Just rising a few hundred feet or so causes these cloudlets to form. Why aren’t they everywhere? Might be drier. Bumps like this are always present in the atmosphere, especially if there are mountains upwind.  Not taken while driving, of course, ; just looks like it thanks to photoshop.

The day closed out with a lower layer of Altocumulus moving in, this layer, according to the TUS sounding, at “only’ -17° C, and little ice detected.  Below, at 2:09 PM:

2:09 PM. Altocumulus perlucidus translucidus. A natural conversion to ice is occurring on the right side of the photo.
2:09 PM. Altocumulus perlucidus translucidus. A natural conversion to ice is occurring on the right side of the photo.
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4:42 PM. So pretty these Altocu.

 

4:41 PM. A strand of finely patterned Cirrocumulus shot out of the SW as the sun declined.
4:41 PM. A strand of finely patterned Cirrocumulus shot out of the SW as the sun declined.
The Tucson afternoon rawinsonde . launched around 3:30 PM.
The Tucson afternoon rawinsonde . launched around 3:30 PM.  The Cirrocu in the above photo was likely also at the Cirrus level indicated above.

U of AZ mod thinks so light rain will develop around here in the mid-later afternoon.

The End

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1“stragne” above, originally an inadvertent typo, but left in place as another cheap trick to get draw the curiosity of readers who might wonder what stragne is.

A day with rare and regular clouds

Yesterday, whilst disappointingly dry, no rain fell here overnight was a day of rare cloud sightings, most of it involving the rarely seen, “Cumulo-cirrus1“, a cloud fakery situation where extremely cold (less that -40°Ç, -40° F)and clouds at Cirrus levels appear to be ordinary little Cumulus fractus clouds. I hope you weren’t fooled by those impersonators. You’d be pretty embarrassed at the next meeting when we go over yesterday…  Yesterday was, in essence, a test for you, and I hope you passed.

Along with the rare “Cumulo-cirrus” sightings, there were intricate patterns in Cirrocumulus clouds that may have caught you’re eye. However, with the wind aloft being so strong (around 90-100 mph at 18,000 feet) you didn’t have a lot of time to enjoy them.

Yesterday’s clouds

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10:01 AM.  These were the first “Cumulus” pretenders I saw yesterday, though I suppose the discerning eye might have called them “Altocumulus” as well.   When they first formed they look hard and rounded like they might have had cloud droplets.  But then within seconds, that brighter look caused by high concentrations of droplets or tiny ice crystals (sometimes called “germs” because they have no particular shape when just formed) fades as the concentrations decline rapidly due to evaporation and mixing with the dry environmental air around them.   Eventually, they become transparent.  Also notice that you don’t see trails come down out of them.  This is likely because the concentrations are so high that competition for moisture keeps all of the ice crystals so small they can’t really fall out.
10:01 AM. Zooming in.
10:01 AM. Zooming in.  The brighter ones have just formed.  The faded ones are the older ones heading for extinction.  Many more shots of “Cumulo-cirrus” to follow.  Got kind of carried away, as usual.
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10:18 AM. Another moist layer shot in, first showing up as Cirrocumulus, though this cloud was in the middle levels, not at Cirrus heights. The fine granulation makes it look higher than it really is. This was probably around 12, 000 feet above the ground, if that. One giveaway was the rapid movement of the cloud itself, and compared to the cirriform clouds above it. If they are near the same levels, they won’t move much at all relative to one another. Anyway, these patterns changed by the SECOND! It was amazing how quickly they devolved into something completely different.
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10:27 AM. A wid angle view of another incoming group of “Cumulo-cirrus.” The thinnest clouds are the ghostly remains of those clouds. The more compact and brighter ones are the youngest ones.
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10:27 AM. A closeup of a just formed globule. Everything around it was onece like that but now has the visual attributes of regular Cirrus.
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10:42 AM. One of the strangest cloud sights ever seen by yours truly, CMP. Here a layer of Cirrocumulus (note fine patterns lower center) passes rapidly underneath those globules of fake Cumulus clouds full of ice.

Explanatory figure below:

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11:22 AM.  Another patch of fake Cumulus fractus at Cirrus levels comes by.  Note the true Cirrus in the background, and was higher than the fake Cu fra.
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11:36 AM. Was beside myself seeing this! Just incredible!
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11:38 AM. Just two minutes later! Look what has happened to that puff ball of ice. The turbulence up there must have been tremendous.
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11:57 AM. Some real fakery here. Ordinary people would have said, “Oh, those are just little Cumulus fractus over our Catalinas.” But not you. You would have chided them in friendly, gentle way, telling them they were WAY too high for Cumulus clouds and are mainly composed of ice, not possible for low Cumulus fractus clouds.   You could have also pointed out that the cloud in the upper part of this photos were way below those Cumulus fakeries, and that they about to obscure them as this encroaching  layer slid underneath them.  Also, try not to be condescending, act superior like you know so much even though you do.  You might lose your friend if you do that.
11:53 AM. Another zoomed view of one of those icy puff balls, not long after it formed.
11:53 AM. Another zoomed view of one of those icy puff balls, not long after it formed.
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4:01 PM. Altocumulus opacus underneath a Cirrostratus layer. A great sunset was in the works with that opening to the southwest. Also notice, no ice or virga evident. Guess that the temperature at the tops of this layer, likely only a couple of hundred meters thick, is warmer than -10° C.
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5:31 PM. Altocumulus opacus at sunset. The height of this layer was about 8,000 feet above Catalina by the TUS sounding, top temperature about -5° C. “No virga, no cry,” as Bob Marley said.

The End

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1Though it fits, I made this cloud name up.  Probably would be Cirrus floccus, maybe Cirrus castellanus in the humped up cases.

Colorful evening ends day with a colorful morning; a note on the great Cal rains of October 2016

Not much else to talk about, no rain of course;  what is that?

But with so many colorful scenes yesterday, we can be partially sated by the  lives we lead here sans rain here.  October ended with a puny 0.01 inches in Sutherland Heights.

Now, because I grew up in California and remain a little Cal-centric, this brief diversion from AZ:

But droughty Cal got nailed though, from about San Luis Obispo, so we can be happy about that I guess.  One station, Gasquet RS,  near the Duck border,  got just under 28 inches in October; stations in the Santa Cruz Mountains, way down by Monterrey, got between 14-17 inches!  From the California-Nevada River Forecast Center, this nice map of October rainfall anomalies in that domain.  Red is real dry, and that’s the color we would be in if it was the California-Nevada-Arizona River Forecast Center:

Many departures are far over the map color-coding limit of 350%, but are over 1000% of average!
Many departures are far over the map color-coding limit of 350%, but are over 1000% of average!  Note red below normal swath.  This tells you that the mean area of low pressure at the surface and aloft was just off the West Coast.  Pac NW set maximum October rainfall records, too.

But let us not dwell any more of generous rains that others got, but celebrate the color and clouds of Arizona.   Here are yesterday’s glorious scenes, beginning with a spectacular Altocumulus lenticularis under some Cirrus at dawn:

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6:37 AM.
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6:47 AM. Ac len stack.
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10:51 AM. Tiny patch of Cirrocumulus tried to hide in front of some Cirrus. Hope you weren’t fooled and logged this sighting in your cloud diary. Cloud maven person almost missed it himself.
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12:50 PM. There were lenticulars aplenty yesterday. Here’s another one in a location a little different from normal, beyond the Catalinas. Upwind edge is the smoothest one at right. No ice streamers coming out the downwind end, so must have been pretty “warm”. Lenticulars, due to their tiny droplets and those droplets having short life times, have been known to resist ice formation to temperatures well below -30°C -22° F). Pretty amazing.
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2:42 PM. Kind of clouded up in the afternoon, and with breezes, made it seem like something was up. It was, but far to the NW of us. We have been under a streamer of high to middle clouds originating deep in the Tropics for a couple of days. Here some lower level moisture has crept in on cat’s feet, to be poetic for a second, and has resulted in small Cumulus and Stratocumulus clouds underneath the Cirrus and lenticulars standing around. All in all, though the temperature here reached 87° F, a very pleasant day.

Now, just some nice lighting and color:

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5:32 PM. The almost flourescent plant in the foreground is what is known as a “cholla.” The end elements fall off quite easily and attach to things like your pant leg if you brush by them on a horse, or if back into them while walking and correcting your horse for something when he’s acting a little “wild.”  I can report that when seven or eight of them are stuck to the back of your shirt, its really hard to get that shirt off.  In fact, it just about won’t come off without a major scream.
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5:35 PM. The higher Cirrus are shaded by clouds to the west, but the lower remnants of Stratocumulus/Cumulus and a few Altocumulus are highlighted as though they were meant to be for this photo. So pretty.  Notice, too, how there seems to be more than one layer of Cirrus.
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5:44 PM. Cirrus and Altocumulus, the latter with some turreting making those the species, “castellanus”, if you care.
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5:47 PM. A nice flame-out of Cirrus occurred as those pesky clouds blocking the fading sunlight from striking them opened up below the horizon. A few Altocumulus castellanus can be seen, too, but relegated to shadow status.

In a further celebration of dryness here, let us examine the rainfall cumulative rainfall predictions calculated by the University of Arizona’s Dept Hydro and Atmos Sci computer the period ending at Midnight on November 5th.  Says the coming rain in the State misses us here in SE AZ while falling just about everywhere else, of course.  Dang.  Let’s hope it one of the worst model predictions ever!

This really poor forecast is based on the global data from last evening at 5 PM AST.
This really poor forecast is based on the global data from last evening at 5 PM AST.

 

The End.

Ice optics extravaganza; Cirrus uncinus fallstreifen going in different directions!

What a day, Mr. and Mrs. Catalina!

Not as good as a rain day with lightning, but yesterday did have its moments in the sky, enough to make the astrologers  on Mt. Lemmon jealous with displays of parhelia (“sun dogs”, or “mock suns”), faint haloes, a rare parhelic circle, something you don’t see but once every year or two,  and fallstreifen (fall streaks) from Cirrus uncinus clouds going in almost opposite directions, an extremely rare sight.

The rare “parhelic circle” is a local brightening often extending out from a parhelia (sun dog) at a sharp angle, which I just learned about here1.  Usually you don’t see a whole circle, just part of one.  

These optic displays are caused by ice crystals, of course, ones not too complex, but rather simple ones like prisms, short solid columns, bullets, and hexagonal plates.  Some examples of these can be seen here.

The bottom of yesterday’s moist layer was just above 30,000 feet at a temperature of -35° C and extended all the way up to about 40,000 feet above sea level where the temperature were around -65° C.

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The balloon sounding launched around 3:30 PM AST yesterday from the Banner University of Arizona.

Some photos documenting the excitement of yesterday

5:30 PM. Cirrus uncinus crystals heading in two very different directions. Wow. Notice the fibers from the contrail that are starting to fall out are going in the "correct" direction, back toward that west.
5:30 PM. Cirrus uncinus crystals heading in two very different directions. Wow. Notice the fibers from the contrail that are starting to fall out are going in the “correct” direction, back toward that west or southwest.
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3:04 PM. Parhelic circle erupts in mostly Cirrus uncinus clouds.
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3:06 PM. The astounding sight continues, but fades away just after this.
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3:33 PM. Local brightening at the position of a sun dog suggests these are tiny ice crystals or possibly even droplets that have just formed, the sizes too small to allow refraction into color normally seen in sun dogs.
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3:32 PM. A zoomed view of that little bright spot. Sure looks like it may have been droplets. Droplet clouds have been reliably reported to temperatures as low as -44° C. Of course, wouldn’t stay liquid long!  I thought this was a pretty exciting shot!  Hope you got it, too.

 

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3:42 PM. Amid all the optical excitement was this ghost-like halo. Can you make out the faint circle around the sun? In ascents through thick ice clouds having complicated ice crystals like bullet rosettes down below the tops, as you climb to the top of such clouds, amazing haloes can be seen where the crystals are newly formed and quite simple in structure, allowing the refraction required for a halo. So, this halo was likely at the top of these thicker Cirrus and Altostratus (dense portions) clouds, though no one would penalize you if you just said they were all Cirrus clouds.

 

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3:59 PM. Another spectacular bright spot at the sun dog location (which is also at the 22° halo location, faintly evident here).
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3:59 PM. Zoomed view of this sun dog/parhelia. Lots of fine structure evident, which is not usually the case with parhelia.
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4:25 PM. Another finely structured parhelia/sun dog suggesting the ice crystals were newly formed. Fine structure like this can’t last long with the usual turbulence, and so that’s a sure sign this feature has just formed.  I don’t recall seeing so many atypical sun dogs in one day!
5:09 PM. The normal, amorphous sun dog. No really fine detail can be seen here.
5:09 PM. The normal, amorphous sun dog. No really fine detail can be seen here.

Below, examples of cold Cirrocumulus, ones that quickly transition to Cirrus clouds.

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5:19 PM. This group of CIrrocumulus clouds appeared very quickly almost overhead. The tiniest elements are those that have just formed. These are composed of ice crystals in extremely high concentrations, perhaps 10,000 per lilter. Once that ice has formed, its gradually spreads out, much like a puff of smoke would, thinning, some crystals growing large enough to start fall steaks.
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5:19 PM. Some elements are still forming, but the spreading of the older ones is well underway, producing a “blurred” look as the elements merge and thin out.
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5:28 PM. Off to the southwest of Catalina, a promising intrusion of lower moisture indicated by these approaching Altocumulus clouds. Will there be enough today for a sprinkle somewhere?  Not looking so good now, clouds did not lower much overnight.   Well, maybe if it doesn’t sprinkle, maybe we’ll get to see some nice virga and dream about rain…

 

The End

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1I was going to call it something else.  Egad.  Let us remember the words of the B-52s:  “Before I talk, I should read the book.