Category Archives: Cirrus clouds

This is a new category

Cirrus uncinus scenes for a lifetime, well, mine, anyway

I hope you had a chance to venture out late yesterday morning and see some of the most spectacular Cirrus (uncinus) displays with HUGE streamers that you will ever see.

The early Cirrus cloud were nothing very special, not showing clues about what was to happen a few hours later:

7:46 AM. A complex sky with Altocumulus on the right and various species of Cirrus such as Cirrus spissatus, center.

But by mid-morning, racing in from the west, these:

10:58 AM. From the Rillito Bridge at Swan, this amazing scene with Cirrus uncinus and those gigantically long tails of ice!
11:08 AM
11:08 AM. Mimics trees in a way, both reaching upward.
11:14 AM.
11:12 AM. From the Rillito Bridge at Swan again.  Kind of running around like a chicken with its hat off!  The heads of the Ci unc are overhead.
11:11 AM.
11:14 AM. One final shot.

—————

There was an interesting  contrail distraction later that day.  Are these “castellanus” crenelations, or is it perspective?  Those knobs are usually pointed downward due to the action of the wingtip vortices that take them downward behind the plane.  Maybe they’re just sloped down at us, not puffed up.

1:10 PM.

—————-

Late in the day some Altocumulus advanced from the west, providing a nice sunset, but a layer once again impacted by aircraft holes.   Can you find them (with their trails of ice slanting downward?)

5:38 PM.

The End

Well, there is still a chance of some rain late in the month, late or after the TG holiday weekend…..  FIngers crossed.   Poor wildflower seeds.

Some recent pretty clods

Been busy as a briefly unretired science worker (gave a stressful talk at a university last week) and thought maybe a lot of usual drop ins to this site might not anymore.   So, in the title for today,  am reaching out to a new demographic: persons interested in congealed soil matter.  They might later, after stopping by, discover a new interest; that in clouds, pretty ones.  Most of the cheap tricks I try like this don’t have any effect, though.  Oh, well.

Let us go forward after backing up:

November 3rd

8:01 November 3rd. OK, I’m way behind! Flock of Cirrus uncinus overruns Catalina and environs.
8:02 AM. Looking SW from Catalina. So pretty with the deep blue skies we have at this time of year due to sun’s lower angle in the sky.
9:16 AM. Look how different, even unreal, that flock of Cirrus looked when leaving us. Looking NE toward the Charouleau Gap.

But the Cirrus kept coming and more odd sights were seen:

10:06 AM. Two levels of Cirrus can be seen. This vertical white patch is likely a few thousand feet lower than the crossing faint strands center and right side,  which are likely above 30,000 feet above the ground.  The heavier Cirrus (spissatus) in the distance is also lower than the strands.

Heavier Cirrus, increasing and lowering to Altostratus finished off the day as a heavy shield of middle and upper clouds raced toward southern Arizona from the Pacific:

3:08 PM. Cirrus spissatus here, too splotchy in coverage to be Altostratus. Nice subtle lighting effect on the Catalinas…

 

“Due to time constraints, we move ahead in the action…”

November 4th

7:27 AM. Classic A row of Altocumulus floccus and castellanus underlie an Altostratus layer.  Where the bases have disappeared, at right, are termed “floccus”, if you care.
8:00 AM. Altostratus, some lower Altocumulus  castellanus with graniteen boulders and a coupla saguaros.
8:59 AM. Bird collective watches in hopes that the darkening, lowering Altostratus layer  (with some Altocumulus) will bring rain. It didn’t. “Dang”, we say here.
4:51 PM. All of the higher layers were gone, leaving only a lowest, but thin scattered to broken Stratocumulus clouds. 🙁  All in all, it was a good day for hiking and other outdoor activities.

Sunday, November 5th:

6:01 AM. Flock of CIrrus uncinus and spissatus again advances on Catalina.
6:21 AM. a closer view. Here they seem to be uncinus with fibratus. Stratocumulus clouds were topping the Catalinas, too, indicating more humidity than we have been seeing most of the past few weeks.
8:38 AM. I thought this was an especially spectacular scene, this lattice of Cirrus racing toward us.  Hope you did, too.

4:26 PM. Perhaps the brightest example of iridescence I have ever seen! Just spectacular for a few seconds in this patch of Cirrocumulus. Iridescence is caused by diffraction around the tiny of droplets, less than 10 microns in diameter, as are present when a cloud just forms.

5:09 PM. Seeing this scene of Altocumulus, you KNEW you were in for a superb sunset.  It didn’t disappoint.
5:39 PM.
5:40 PM. There is no virga here.
5:44 PM. Super!

The weather just ahead

The Wildcat Weather Department model is foretelling perhaps a measurable rain event between this afternoon and tomorrow morning at 7 AM!  Heavier rain is foretold to be south of us, but just a slight error would mean something more substantial.  Hoping for error!  A sky covering Altostratus layer is just about assured with a lowering tendency as the day goes on.  Should see some Altocu , too, a day a lot like last Saturday.

The End

A study in cold Altocumulus and about a balloon mistaken for a space object

Balloon sounding released from the U of AZ about 3:30 PM AST. Altocumulus clouds were no less than 21,000 feet above Catalina at -20°C (4°F).  Sounding courtesy of IPS Meteostar.  BTW, it wasn’t this balloon–see below.
11:15 AM. A stationary balloon that hovers SE of Tucson.  Can you find it?  I had never noticed it before and at first thought it was in space, above the Cirrus!  How crazy was that?  Likely to be a device up there  to monitor the US Border.
2:55 PM. Cirrocumulus with an aircraft produced ice canal in it , tight half of photo (that ice cloud now termed, “Cirrus anthropogenitus”).
4:02 PM. A complex sky for sure. Little tufts of Altocumulus way up at 21,000 feet above ground level, with Ac castellanus turrets (e.g., left above horizon).  SInce those turrets are reaching up to temperatures well below -30°C (-22°F)  they’re converting to all ice (such as center right).   Those icy ones would be called, “Cirrus spissatus.”  It would also not be untoward, and I know you don’t want that, to just call those deeper clouds with turrets on the left, “Cirrus castellanus.”

5:56 PM. Lines of Altocumulus make for an OK sunset.

Another pretty cloud day ahead.  Though most of the Altocumulus clouds are flat, there are some whoppers off to the north now, Ac cas so large they might have to be called Cumulonimbus, certainly large enough to produce radar echoes, maybe a sprinkle at the ground.

Lots of wind tomorrow, as you likely know,  but no rain in sight still.  So, October almost surely will end as a rainless month.  Our average for October is just over an inch of rain!

The End

Some recent clouds

May 24th:

DSC_3906 DSC_3912 DSC_3907 DSC_3900

May 25th, yesterday, starting with sunrise color

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Later yesterday morning, some interesting “Altocumulocirrus”, a rare breed indeed, mocking/mimicking Altocumulus.

Maybe Cirrus floccus would come closest to the true name, but to every eye but that of a genuine cloud maven person, it would be deemed just “Altocumulus”.  Check these out to see how good you were–and NO correcting your cloud diaries!!!!

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5:47 AM. Two layers are visible, a distant Altocumulus castellanus one, and the higher, much higher, cirriform clouds resembling Altocumulus. If you don’t believe me, the sounding from the U of AZ is below.
The TUS balloon sounding for 5 AM AST yesterday. The Altocumulus patches were up around 16,000 feet, and the cirriform clouds around 33,000 feet and at about -50°C
The TUS balloon sounding for 5 AM AST yesterday. The Altocumulus patches were up around 16,000 feet, and the cirriform clouds around 33,000 feet and at about -50°C (-58°F).  Had to cuss that bit because I sensed some doubt out there.
6:38 AM. Same cloud layer. Seriously, how can you not call this "Altocumulus", it mimicks it so well. But these globules are all ice, no liquid water of course anywhere near -50°C unless we believe the reports of Simpson (1963) who purported liquid at -62°C. Nobody believed him though; me ,neither.
6:38 AM. Same cloud layer. Seriously, how can you not call this “Altocumulus”, it mimicks it so well. But these globules are all ice, no liquid water of course anywhere near -50°C unless we believe the reports of Simpson (1963) who purported liquid at -62°C. Nobody believed him though; me ,neither.
7:37 AM. Another view of this cirriform layer making a mockery out of Altocumlus. Note that there is that tiny bit of shading, too, in these cloudlets.
7:37 AM. Another view of this cirriform layer making a mockery out of Altocumlus. Note that there is that tiny bit of shading, too, in these cloudlets.
5:24 PM. The convection leading to cellular structure was still evident pretty much the whole day. Again, we have a problem. Shading like this is not officially permitted with in cirriform clouds except in the "spissatus" species. One would be thinking "Altostratus" here since that cloud is widespread and can have gray shading. When you look at the TUS sounding nearest this time, you find that the moisture is still contained in the upper reaches of the troposphere, where it was in the morning, and that would be in the "etage" for high clouds, 33,000 feet or so above sea level.
5:24 PM. The convection leading to cellular structure was still evident pretty much the whole day. Again, we have a problem. Shading like this is not officially permitted with in cirriform clouds except in the “spissatus” species. One would be thinking “Altostratus” here since that cloud is widespread and can have gray shading. When you look at the TUS sounding nearest this time, you find that the moisture is still contained in the upper reaches of the troposphere, where it was in the morning, and that would be in the “etage” for high clouds, 30,000 feet or so above sea level.
The TUS balloon sounding for 5 PM AST, May 25th. The temperature of that icy layer ranged from about -35°C on the bottom to -60° C at top.
The TUS balloon sounding for 5 PM AST, May 25th. The temperature of that icy layer ranged from about -35°C on the bottom to -60° C at top, so there would not be any liquid water in it even though is might appear in some places.  Where’s my Lear jet?  Need to check these things out and in a hurry!

Now for some prettiness from yesterday evening:

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The End

Sunset was pretty good; raindrops tomorrow morning? In nine days as well?

Haven’t had much to say, brain pretty empty again after the big review of the NAS 2003 review which really needed reviewing and commenting on real bad….

(More “late homework” in the offing.)

———————-

Nice sunset last night; we have had a series of pretty nice ones over the past few days.

April 26th. Sunset over the Charoulou Gap.
April 26th. Sunrise over the Charouleau Gap.
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Orangy mountains highlighted by a gap in the Altostratus layer that allowed the setting sun to shine through.
DSC_3474
7:04 PM. There was some turreting in this line of Altostratus that passed over, and because of those deeper tops, indicating stronger, if still slight updrafts, larger snow particles developed and produced this line of heavier virga underneath it.
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7:10 PM.
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A contrail that’s more than about ten minutes old, now, after the new Int. Cloud Atlas has been released, termed, Cirrus anthrogenitus, maybe castellanus in this case, too.

From IPS MeteoStar, this interesting map for tomorrow morning.

The orangy colors denote the strongest winds in “Jetty Jetstream”, and as you know, the colder, low clouds, ones capable of reaching the temperatures where ice forms, are contained within that ring of strongest winds at this level (500 mb).  So, while the models I have looked at so far have no rain here, I think there’s a pretty good chance of a rogue shower tomorrow morning anyway.  At least there should be some nice Stratocumulus/Cumulus tomorrow and some will have ice in them.   As you know, it’ll be awful windy today, too, maybe 40 mph or so in brief gusts here in The Heights of Sutherland.

Also will be looking for some nice lenticulars since “Jetty” will be right over us, but a little toward the warm side where lenticulars mostly occur.

Map valid for tomorrow morning at 5 AM AST.
Map valid for tomorrow morning at 5 AM AST.

In the meantime, spaghetti suggests a big trough in our area again about nine days from now.  The later ACTUAL model outputs don’t show much of anything.  What’s up with that?  I’m hanging with spaghetti that later model runs will indicate a strong trough, and at LEAST another pulse of cooler air, and another minor chance of rain as we are going to see today and especially tomorrow as when become within the “ring of winds” aloft.  Didn’t Johnny Cash sing something about that? Maybe it was Wall of Voodoo

Below, some spaghetti for you showing a big trough over Arizona and the Great Basin which is not much reflected in the actual models, as noted.  But, just watch my friend, how those model outputs will change to reflect a bigger trough about this time!

Valid at 5 PM May 7th.
Valid at 5 PM May 7th.

 

The End

 

Looking ahead to May, and something about the new Int. Cloud Atlas

April’s been kind of a weather dud here in Catalina so far (no rain so far, and the chance on the 20th, mentioned here some weeks ago, has receded to Utah and points north), so lets take a look at how May is shaping up, only two weeks ahead:

 Valid at 5 PM, May 2nd. Nice!
Valid at 5 PM, May 2nd. Nice!

I thought you’d be pretty happy when you saw this, as I was.

 

BTW, there is a new International Cloud Atlas out there.

Its possible there is a photo from Catalina, Arizona!  I have not checked yet.  Its just been published by the World Meteorological Organization of the United Nations.  Still needs a little work, but overall is VERY, very nice.  Came out out on March 23rd, so we’re a little behind here as usual.  The thing that makes it different from prior and sometimes flawed atlases is that each photo is accompanied by some weather data and in many cases maps, radar or satellite imagery at the time of the photo.

Some new expressions to toss around to your fellow cloud-centric folk are things like “Cirrus anthrogenitus”–Cirrus evolved from contrails and “Cumulus flammogenitus”, a Cumulus formed at the top of a fire, something we used to call, “pyrocumulus”, an unofficial term that somehow seems preferable to “flammo”.

However, something that has drawn great attention over the past 20 years or so was not given a name, aircraft-produced ice in Altocumulus and Cirrocumulus clouds, which have been referred to by Heymsfield and colleagues as “hole punch clouds.”1

Hole punch clouds pdf

Ice canals amid Altocumulus are also fairly common.  Ironically, a hole punch cloud with ice in the center, and an ice canal in an Altocumulus cloud layer can be readily seen on the new International Cloud Atlas submission site, now closed.  They’ve mistakenly, IMO, referred to “ice canal” photos as “distrails” without mentioning the ice canal “cirrus” down the middle.  Formerly, distrails were clearings produced by aircraft in thin clouds without any change of phase in the cloud induced by the aircraft, unlike those holes and clearings produced when the ice-phase is triggered by an aircraft passage.

Certainly a “hole punch” cloud is not a distrail, a linear feature, and should have a separate nomenclature.

In keeping with the new terminology regarding “anthro” effects, maybe it should be, since we’re talking about the Cirrus induced by an aircraft, albeit at much lower levels than true Cirrus clouds:

“CIrrus Altocumuloanthroglaciogenitus.”  (??)

Here’s a classic one of those that erupted over Catalina, posted here last January:

11:27 AM, January 2nd. The ice canal in the middle of an Altocumulus layer that might in the future be termed a Cirrus altocumuloanthroglaciogenitus.
11:27 AM, January 2nd. The ice canal in the middle of an Altocumulus layer that might in the future be termed a Cirrus altocumuloanthroglaciogenitus.

 

DSC_3336
5:53 PM. An example of the various cirriform clouds we’ve been treated to the past week or two, ones that have been giving us those nice sunrises and sunsets. Doesn’t seem like there’s been a cloud below 50,000 feet for about that long, too. (I’m exaggerating just a little.)
7:04 PM. Seems like sunsets are occurring later and later.
7:04 PM. Seems like sunsets are occurring later and later.  Here the setting sun allows some of the “topography” of Cirrus clouds to be accentuated.

 

The End

——————————————-
1It should be pointed out immediately if not sooner  that Catalina’s Cloud Maven Person had plenty of time to rectify, or suggest changes to the Atlas as he could have been part of this process, but didn’t really do anything except submit some images for consideration.

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:

DSC_3203 DSC_3201 DSC_3198 DSC_3197 DSC_3187 DSC_3186 DSC_3181

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.

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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

DSC_2744
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.
DSC_2737
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.
DSC_2728
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.)

Catalina WY progress report; Cal WY update, too, since I grew up in Cal

I thought you’d like to see this:

As of the end of February 2017. We're pretty average, but it took some "heavy lifting" in December and January to get there.
As of the end of February 2017.  You can see were right about at the average for the Water Year,, but it took some “heavy lifting” in December and January to get there.

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:

California water year totals through the end of February 2017. Note one station in the central Califorina coastal range is already over 100 inches!
California water year totals through the end of February 2017. Note one station in the central Califorina coastal range is already over 100 inches!  There are 20 stations already over 100 inches as can be seen from the table at right.  March looks to have substantial rains north of SFO, which will add appreciably to those highest totals.  Amazing!  You can go to the CNRFC and expand these interactive maps, btw.

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:

https://www.climate.gov/news-features/event-tracker/how-deep-precipitation-hole-california

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:

Annual cycle, QBO, SO on global precip J Geophys Res 1988ocr

Sure has looked like the Big Niño WY we expected last year!

Some recent clouds; after all, this is CLOUD maven, not RAIN maven:

I’ve been kind of holding out on you.  I dropped my camera and busted it.  Its no fun taking pictures when you don’t have a real camera.  Still doesn’t work right, but take these anyway:

March 4th, afternoon. Hope you logged this; the rarely seen CIrrus castellanus (almost "congestus" in size) or, informally, "Cumulo-cirrus."
March 4th, afternoon. Hope you logged this; the rarely seen CIrrus castellanus (almost “congestus” in size) or, informally, “Cumulo-cirrus.”
Poppies are out, btw. Nice display on "Poppy Hils" just across and southwest of the Pima County Pistol Club, off Bowman.
Poppies are out, btw, in case you haven’t noticed. Nice display on “Poppy Hils” just across and southwest of the Pima County Pistol Club, off Bowman.
DSC_2499
March 4th, late afternoon. Nothing terrifically special in this tangle of Cirrus spissatus (“Cis spis” to cloud folk) but I thought it was just a really nice scene

Moving to the next day, Sunday, that REALLY windy day:

March 5, Sunday morning 6:13 AM. Altocumulus lenticularis alerts cloudwise folk to the possibility of windy conditions although it was already windy.
March 5, Sunday morning 6:13 AM. Altocumulus lenticularis alerts cloudwise folk to the possibility of windy conditions although it was already windy.
3:55 PM, March 5th. After a day of solid Altostratus overcast with underlying Cumulus and Stratocumulus, a layer of Altocumulus began to move in to add a little more interest to the sky.
3:55 PM, March 5th. After a day of solid Altostratus overcast with underlying Cumulus and Stratocumulus, a layer of Altocumulus began to move in to add a little more interest to the sky.
3:57 PM. Looking to the north revealed that some of the lower Cumulus/Stratocumulus complexes reached heights where ice could form. That smooth region on the bottom and right side of the cloud is a fall of ice from this cloud with a RW- (text for "light rainshower") if you like to text stuff) right below that. This is not a lot of ice and so you'd be thinking the cloud barely made that ice-forming temperature.
3:57 PM. Looking to the north revealed that some of the lower Cumulus/Stratocumulus complexes reached heights where ice could form. That smooth region on the bottom and right side of the cloud is a fall of ice from this cloud with a RW- (text for “light rainshower”) if you like to text stuff) right below that. This is not a lot of ice and so you’d be thinking the cloud barely made that ice-forming temperature.  CMP doesn’t think it was caused by an ice fallout from that higher layer, which sometimes can happen.  Let’s look at the most timely sounding, just to check.  From the real Cowboys at the University of Wyoming, this:
Ann 2017030600.72274.skewt.parc
The TUS sounding which I only now just saw, showing a vast separation between the lower Stratocumulus and the higher layers of Altocumlus and Altostratus on top. Note, too, that over TUS the tops of the lower cloud is not quite at -10°C the temperature we start to look for ice formation in AZ. However, our clouds were NW of that balloon sounding, and it would have been that tiny bit colder, and tops were also lifted some when they passed over the Tortolitas earlier, meaning that the tops of this complex were colder than -10° C (14° F) at some point.

Wow, too much information….after a hiatus in blogging I feel like that  Oroville Dam in California, metaphorically overflowing with too much hand-waving information.

6:03 PM, March 5. Its still real windy. Line of virga brought a few drops when it passed overhead at 6:30 PM.
6:03 PM, March 5. Its still real windy. Line of virga brought a few drops when it passed overhead at 6:30 PM.
6:04 PM. Nice dramatic shot toward Marana as the backside of the middle cloud layer approached allowing the sun to shine through.
6:04 PM. Nice dramatic shot toward Marana as the backside of the middle cloud layer approached allowing the sun to shine through.
6:09 PM. Virga getting closer. May have to park car outside to make sure I don't miss any drops!
6:09 PM. Virga getting closer. May have to park car outside to make sure I don’t miss any drops!
6:22 PM. SW-NE oriented virga strip about to pass overhead. Drops fell between 6:30 and 6:40 PM, but you had to be outside to notice, which you would have been as a proper CMJ eccentric.
6:22 PM. SW-NE oriented virga strip about to pass overhead. Drops fell between 6:30 and 6:40 PM, but you had to be outside to notice, which you would have been as a proper CMJ eccentric.  You would have WANTED that trace of rain report, maybe slackers would not have observed.
6:30 PM. Climax; the great sunset allowed by that backside clearing.
6:30 PM. Climax; the great sunset allowed by that backside clearing.

The End, at last!