Category Archives: Cumulonimbus clouds

Post includes rainbow photos for popularity’s sake; 0.14 inches of rain (what other “inches” of something would it be?) dampens Sutherland Heights

Nothing much else here of too much interest except the usual cloud blabber… haha

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7:00 PM.
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7:04 PM. Hope you saw these!
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5:50 AM. Moon dodging clouds, Altocumulus ones.  Moon dodgers?  Did you know that the University of Washington sport’s teams were once known as the “Sun Dodgers”?  How funny izzat?  It’s truly amazing to me what you learn here.
2:47 PM. Icy tops move toward the Catalina Mountains.
2:47 PM. Icy tops move toward the Catalina Mountains.
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3:54 PM. Not much going on over the Catalinas. But, can you spot the first ice from these clouds? You’d have to be pretty darn good to do that.
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3:54 PM. Zooming…. There it is! Have to look hard for the arrow and the bit of ice haze below that flat section. This would be a great ob day for an aircraft, since it would mark the threshold of temperature where ice is  starting to form. Deeper, colder clouds from this threshold level would have more ice, a lot more.  This level can vary from day to day, depending mostly on the sizes of droplets in clouds.  With bases near freezing yesterday, this level would likely have been at the -12° to -15°C level, up around 20,000 feet above sea level.  Bases were around 14,500 feet above sea level.
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5:23 PM. Nice lighting. I like lighting and lightning, no so much lightening, since a storm could be ending then, or if its around dawn, its OK.  You can see two eyes, squinting….
5:43 PM. Nice base streaming from Pusch Ridge enlarges as it came almost overhead! Looks promising for a SPKL. Moving car out from carport so's I don't miss a few drops.
5:43 PM. Nice base streaming from Pusch Ridge enlarges as it came almost overhead! Looks promising for a SPKL. Moving car out from carport so’s I don’t miss a few drops.
5:54 PM. Fine strands of rain now becoming visible!
5:54 PM. Fine strands of rain now becoming visible!
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6:19 PM. Strands of rain in full display in RW-. Its measuring, not just a few drops! Need to roll up windows in car!
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7:13 PM. Not much happened just a little west of Catalina. Nice sunset, too.

Looks like another day for a chance of rain late….

The End

Powering up

Not much going on lately, so will dip into the archives from two days ago.  One cloud in particular was so spectacular in its defiance of gravity, rocketing upward the morning of the 4th.  So here are shots from that day…

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6:46 AM, Aug. 4: The day began with a pretty normal looking patch of Altocumulus perlucidus (honey-comb pattern). No virga, so its likely not too cold. The sounding suggests it was up at 16,000 feet ASL, or 13 kft above Catalina at about 0°C (32 F).

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10:05 AM. Thar she blows! Just a spectacular jut from over the Mogollon Rim area, and a telling sign of what was immediately ahead for us.
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10:53 AM. Was doing yard work, under some trees, and then came out to see this amazing sight (Cumulus congestus erectus). Ran for camera, you have just seconds to a minute or two before it begins to fall apart due to entrainment of dry air that makes a cloud look ragged and frayed. Will it form ice? Is it cold enough up top?  Should show up in a couple of minutes if it is going to.
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11:00 AM. Ice formation well underway as you can see by the frizzy, fibrous texture above the halfway mark up this cloud. At the time it seemed like it might be a big day for TSTMs with this kind of vertical rocket cloud shot so early. But, no.  I would term this cloud, a Cumulonimbus calvus or capillatus, even though there is no visible rainshaft yet.
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11:00 AM. Going zooming…you can see that virtually this whole top is glaciated, and that fingerling, top left, shows some fallout of ice, likely aggregates of ice crystals. When concentrations are high, as would be the case in this glaciated turret, the crystals often lock together to form snowflakes. In cloud microstructure and modeling terminology, the stuff falling out would be termed , “precipitation ice”,  and most of that in the  fingerling, “cloud ice.”  I hope you’re happy now.
11:05 AM. An icy being seems to be leaping out of the new Cumulus congestus clouds that sprang forth so rapidly. That icy "being" is all that's left of the original turret.
11:05 AM. An icy being seems to be leaping out of the new Cumulus congestus clouds that sprang forth so rapidly. That icy “being” is all that’s left of the original turret.
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11:09 AM. Kind of in the area of “beings” now. Those new Cumulus cloud sprouted up rapidly to fill the void left by our first cloud. But here it appear to take on the shape of a being waving, “Hey, look at my icy left hand!”
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11:52 AM. Thought this frizziness, texture of the ice made me think they might be “warm crystals”, that is ones that form at temperatures higher than -10°C, which would be needles and sheaths…. I sure wish I had a Learjet, get up there in a hurry, find out for sure…. The afternoon sounding supports that speculation with tops likely limited to those higher temperatures, but not the morning one
12:49 PM. One Cumulonimbus calvus stage here, was potent enough to produce a bit of thunder, maybe the last we'll hear for many days.
12:49 PM. One Cumulonimbus calvus stage here, was potent enough to produce a bit of thunder, maybe the last we’ll hear for many days.
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1:00 PM. Looking to the west, you could see the drier air moving in as evidenced by the lack of any buildups for as far as you could see, and also in the pitiful clouds over the Tortolita Mountains. It was a hard time, knowing the end was at hand.  And there it is, below:

The End

‘Nuf said

Now, that’s pretty funny.  We specialize here in too much said! Its a niche thing.  Of course, not enough can be said about our past July. Take a look:

2016-17 WY progress repor thru July

This, of course, was a new July rainfall record for Catalina/Sutherland Heights going back to 1977, anyway.  Had to adjust vertical axis of this chart, too.  Formerly, it stopped at only FOUR inches!  The moon lore was right!  It’s interesting how the ancient lore of early peoples that I made up a month ago was more accurate than the Climate Prediction Center’s prediction of an equal chance of above or below normal rain in southern Arizona while something incredible was on the doorstep!  Kind of like last winter in the whole West where record amounts of snow and rain piled up over a huge region, and that, too, was also unforeseen “going in.” Think how horrible it would be if those predictions were always right.  Sure, billions could be saved by such accurate outlooks, but then the element of surprise would be gone.  How bad would that be?

After the paucity of rain in the preceding five months, and with June carrying into around July 10th this year with its blazing heat and no clouds, all that rain that followed with thunderations day after day,  the attendant rain-cooled  “breezes” to 50 mph on occasions, blowing stuff all around everywhere, were sure welcomed (?).  (Another case of innovative punctuation to emphasize a point, whatever it is.)

Let us begin today by examining the greenth of the 2017 summer on our Catalina Mountains so far, thanks to July’s copious rains.  Hah! The climate really has changed.  Looking into growing bananas now…DSC_6621 DSC_6542 DSC_6534 DSC_6510Now for some cloud photos from yesterday:

9:40 AM. Like most of our summer days, it begins with mid-level layers of Altocumulus, in this case shown here, "translucidus" variety (rather thin, it is.) It was up around 13,000 feet above the ground, if you care.
9:40 AM. Like most of our summer days, it begins with mid-level layers of Altocumulus, in this case shown here, “translucidus” variety (rather thin, it is.)  It was up around 13,000 feet above the ground, if you care.
11:07 AM. As the Altocumulus clouds thinned, burned off, the rise of the Cumulus begins, here a gigantic one spurts upward telling you that there are going to be some blasters yesterday. Very exciting to see this. I can feel your heartbeat as you, too saw it.
11:07 AM. As the Altocumulus clouds thinned, burned off, the rise of the Cumulus begins, here a gigantic one spurts upward telling you that there are going to be some blasters yesterday. Very exciting to see this. I can feel your heartbeat as you, too saw it.
11:51 AM. Wasn't long before giant Cumulonimbus clouds were dumping over there on the town of Oracle. Nice town it is, btw. However, these clouds weren't much electrified, telling you that the updrafts weren't particularly strong yet, even though tops here were probably pushing around 30 kft.
11:51 AM. Wasn’t long before giant Cumulonimbus clouds were dumping over there on the town of Oracle. Nice town it is, btw. However, these clouds weren’t much electrified, telling you that the updrafts weren’t particularly strong yet, even though tops here were probably pushing around 30 kft.
11:52 AM. Cumulus congestus, and Cumulonimbus calvus start unloading over there toward I don't know where exactly.
11:52 AM. Cumulus congestus, and Cumulonimbus calvus start unloading over there toward I don’t know where exactly, but its just on the other side of the Tortolita Mountains.  You’ve probably noticed how clear the sky has been, completely free of haze.  That’s good for rain production, since the cleaner conditions are the larger the drops can be in the clouds because there are fewer of them compared to clouds forming on hazy days. Nat King Cole sang about summer haze as early as 1963, so we know that haze is not a new thing, like CO2 is.  You won’t find people singing about CO2 in ’63!
11:58 AM. The three amigos.... A slight rainshower can be seen in the slight haze in front of the mountains below the center Cumulus. Tops leaned way out again due to weak updrafts, and since rain forms in the upper portions, it fell away from the mountains in these weaker Cumulus.
11:58 AM. The three amigos…. A slight rain shower can be seen in the slight haze in front of the mountains below the center Cumulus. Tops of these spindily Cu  leaned way out again due to weak updrafts and and stronger winds aloft from the S.  Since rain forms in the upper portions, it fell a little away from the mountains in these weaker Cumulus.
12:02 PM. Dump truck, fully unloading! Not messing around anymore here.
12:02 PM. Dump truck, fully unloading! Not messing around anymore here.  With cloud bases running around 15°C (59°F) there was a ton of water up there.  Well, thousands of tons.
12:06 PM. I know what you're thinking: "Oh, look, a baby dump. Isn't it cute!"
12:06 PM. I know what you’re thinking: “Oh, look, a baby dump. Isn’t it cute!”  Suggests an abnormally narrow turret poked to far higher altitudes that those around it.
12:24 PM. More Cumulus congestus clouds joined the fray and this became a major 2 inches or more producing system over on the Tortolita Mountains.
12:24 PM. More Cumulus congestus clouds joined the fray and this became a major 2 inches or more producing system over on the Tortolita Mountains.
1:01 PM. Now the outflow surge can be seen on the left, pushing new Cumulus turrets above it.
1:01 PM. Now the outflow surge can be seen on the left, pushing new Cumulus turrets above it.  This was about the peak of it, as it gradually wound down.  Its  certain that flash flooding occurred with at least 2 inches  having fallen in the core.

Well, the day closed on a disappointing note as Cumulonimbus debris clouds overspread the sky, killing new convection.

5:45 PM. Altostratus "cumulonimbogenitus." The day went quietly into the night.
5:45 PM. Altostratus “cumulonimbogenitus.” The day went quietly into the night.

The weather way ahead

Looks like below average rain for August.  :(, as we say.  Hoping for error here.  Average August rainfall here in Catalina/Sutherland Heights is 3.16 inches.

 

The End

Sutherland Height residents rejoice and grouse over drought and road bustin’, super local, 3.36 inch “toad strangler”

“Frog strangler”,  folk expression from the South for extra heavy rains, btw,  which is what we had, except we have toads, not frogs.

Here’s what I think happened to produce 3.36 inches on Sutherland Heights.  The winds were from the east at cloud levels.  Cumulus spawned off the Catalinas/Mt Lemmon area, but the wind shear brought the tops over Sutherland Heights about the time they got cold enough to form ice, yesterday around -5° to -10°C   (higher than the usual temps for ice formation because the cloud bases were so warm.  I know what you’re thinking, “huh?”   Take my word for it, that’s the way it works;  the warmer the bottom of a cloud, the higher the temperature at which ice forms in it.  Of course, over the oceans cloud base temperature doesn’t make that much difference…  I better quit here on that.

Where was I?  Oh…   So, leaning out from the mountains is where they began to dump their loads beginning in mid-morning, when updrafts were likely modest.  The first one missed Sutherland Heights altogether (except for a sprinkle, but drenched Oracle Road and the Basha’s area.  And, likely because it didn’t rain on the east side of the Catalinas until later, those monster turrets kept spawning upwind of us.

The second in this series was a stronger turret, one that could stand more upright against the wind shear and dropped its load on Sutherland Heights.  Indicative of stronger updrafts in that one was the onset of thunder, first aloft, then in ensuing turrets shooting upward, increasing cloud-to-ground strokes until it was unsafe to go outside without the thought of being fried.

And of course, the rainrates picked up, and stayed that way as new turrets launched off the same zone of the Catalina Mountains through mid-afternoon.  That in itself was remarkable, and if you looked around, you could see that it wasn’t raining all that much either to the north or south of Catalina, and that the rainshafts faded as they trekked across Oro Valley.

The net result, an incredulous 3.36 inches here (3.37 inches in NWS-style gauge here), bound to raise eyebrows concerning possible rain gauge fraud;  nothing like it anywhere in the local area!  The ALERT gauge on the Golder Ranch Bridge only had 1.46 inches and Samaniego Peak,  1.93 inches!  There will be very few days in our lifetimes like yesterday.  Go to rainlog.org to see how amazing our local amount was in comparison to other gauges, once again raising the specter of fraud due to an outlandish amount1.

And, again, it was closer to what a REAL monsoon day in India, say, at Cherrapunji, where passing heavy rains are accompanied by the occasional thunderclap.  So, in a sense, yesterday you were climatically transported to a land faraway, where tree roots are so big they make bridges out of them…

Some photos of this event, well, too many, really, after all, too many cloud photos is our niche!:

10:03 AM. The MO for yesterday's rains in miniature. Cumulus launched off around Mt. Lemmon and leaned out over Sutherland Heights as they rose upward. As the tops got higher over us, ice began to form in them, and, down and out it came. Some of the ice, because cloud bases were so warm, began to rain
10:03 AM. The MO for yesterday’s rains in miniature. Cumulus launched off around Mt. Lemmon and leaned out over Sutherland Heights as they rose upward. As the tops got higher over us, ice began to form in them, and, down and out it came. Some of the ice, because cloud bases were so warm (about 60°F, 15° C), probably was frozen raindrops.
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11:08 AM. Only SPKLS so far, but since tallest part of cloud is over Sutherland Heights, some large drops are almost imminent.
11:13 AM. Rain begins in earnest.
11:13 AM. Rain begins in earnest.
11:27 AM. Shafts intensifying.
11:27 AM. Shafts intensifying.
11:53 AM. Pretty much out of control, just snapping away at this incredible intensity of rain!
11:53 AM. Pretty much out of control, just snapping away at this incredible intensity of rain!
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11:53 AM. One second later. Haha. It was three seconds later!
12:37 PM.
12:37 PM.
2:20 PM.
2:20 PM.
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3:16 PM. The CDO wash is full, but not huge, where standing waves a few feet high form (as in the 4+ inch dump of September 2015).
4:06 PM. The raging Sutherland Wash. Was making a lot of noise down there, mostly from this area near the Cottonwoods where the wall is. You could hear it probably all over Sutherland Heights if you listened carefully. Was raining lightly at this time, OCNL LTG, too.
4:06 PM. The raging Sutherland Wash. Was making a lot of noise down there, mostly from this area near the Cottonwoods where the wall is. You could hear it probably all over Sutherland Heights if you listened carefully. Was raining lightly at this time, OCNL LTG, too.
4:06 PM. Another view of the raging Sutherland Wash, probably near its peak.
4:06 PM. Another view of the raging Sutherland Wash, probably near its peak.
4:25 PM. The lightning from this once proud Cumulonimbus cloud has ended, and now it is resigned to be lightly raining Nimbostratus or Altostratus, I don't which, but I what I do know is that its, "cumulonimbogenitus." And don't tell me you haven't heard of "genitus", either, because its a chapter in the Bible!
4:25 PM. The lightning from this once proud Cumulonimbus cloud has ended, and now it is resigned to be lightly raining Nimbostratus or Altostratus, I don’t which, but I what I do know is that its, “cumulonimbogenitus”, “Genitus, of course, being one of the books of the Old Testament Bible–you find information like this that you won’t find on other sites.

The End, of a very hurriedly thrown together piece.  Got actual work that must be completed soon, something if you read it, it would be so boring you’d want to shoot yourself before you finished it!  Sciency stuff.   Oh, well, nose to grindstone now.

 

Your cloud dairy for May 9th

Haha, most readers won’t even notice! But maybe some cow-centric, instead of cloud-centric, folks will drop by, raising the worth of this blog to above $35 if sold….that according to a “biz” site.

Had a rainbow yesterday. Hope you noticed. It was pretty early and overhead west. I think the clouds did not have ice in them. The rain echoes were not showing up on the radar, suggesting the beam went over the tops. Sounding suggested tops might have been as cool as -5°C.    In any case, the drops were able to tip the bucket a couple of more times, and along with yesterday afternoon’s brief, light rain showers our total has climbed to 0.37 inches for the storm. Not bad, though as in money, you always want more.

These storm breakup days are always our prettiest, and that’s often what this site is about, being pretty. Yesterday had some fabulous scenes;  couldn’t stop shuttering cam. It is a real neurotic compulsive behavior pattern, as afflicts some of us cloud and storm-centric folk. Check Mr. Olbinsky’s work; his work goes beyond phenomenal whether you want a wedding photographer or want to see a storm chasing video.  But it takes that kind of eccentric energy to be special, to stand out as he does.

Here, though, we let the storms and cloud scenes, such as they are, hope for the best, and let them come to us….  Kind of a lazy storm chaser’s attitude.

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5:49 AM. I really do think this rain came out of clouds that had no ice…maybe 70% sure.
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6:27 AM. Stratus fractus springing to life as Cumulus clouds lining the sides of Sam Ridge (Samaniego). Showed how much instability, the ease of which the slightly warmer air in these clouds could jut upward yesterday
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6:49 AM. Just pretty and so green after the rain.
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6:50 AM. Same scene, focusing in on a highlight.
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7:01 AM. More prettiness in a highlighted baby turret.
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7:01 AM. In case you missed it, here it is again, a little zoomed.
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9:03 AM. Rise of the Cumulonimbus capillatus incus (has anvil). This scene had a lot of portent for the day. You knew more would be forming, maybe drift over us later.
9:33 AM. I thought this was a pretty neat scene, though its just a cloud shadow lining up with the rise of the Catalina Mountains.
9:33 AM. I thought this was a pretty neat scene, though its just a cloud shadow lining up with the rise of the Catalina Mountains.
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9:36 AM. Hmmmm. What the HECK is happening now? Low center was off in the direction, headed for us, with still cooler air aloft. But where are the Cumulonimbus clouds that should come with it? (They formed rapidly, but later.)
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2:23 PM. By mid-afternoon, things were swell all around, lots of Cumulonimbus clouds. They seemed to fade, though, as they marched toward Catalinaland, as this complex did. The rather sharp line in the lower part of the photo, and beyond which you can see distant clouds, is where the melting level was. This is often appears to be the “cloud base” but its really not in the sense of having cloud droplets. If you were to fly in it, all you would see is rain and melting snow just below this line, and just snowflakes above it. If the whole sky was covered in this, we’d call it Nimbostratus, and say the base was at that melting level.
3:42 PM. Another pretty major band appears to be headed this way. DIdn't make it.
3:42 PM. Another pretty major band appears to be headed this way, rotating around that low center, shifting northward.  Didn’t make it.
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6:35 PM. Somewhat promising that a nice dark line and heavy shafts were out there, thinking they might shift northward again. Nope. Fizzled.

Still cold aloft, so having some nice Cumulus today is in the bag, the early Stratocumulus devolving into Cu, that is.

The End

Wintertime cold Cumulonimbus clouds erupt with sprinkles and snow flurries; no damage reported

One passed over at 9:19 AM with a hard multi-second, surprise rain shower.  One person reported a couple of graupel, or soft hail particles. Tipped the bucket, too; 0.01 added to our Sutherland Heights storm total.  Its now at 0.23 inches.  Of course, there was no damage, but putting that word in a title might draw “damage trollers”, increase blog hits….

The rest of the day was clouds withering, getting mashed down on tops as bases rose and tops settled back, then suddenly, about 3:30 PM, small areas of ice crystals began to show up in a couple of spots, and, boy, did things take off after that.  Tops were lifting to higher temperatures, likely due to an approaching trough, one that otherwise is too dry to do much else.

Honest to goodness cold, wintertime Cumulonimbus clouds formed, though not very deep ones.  Probably of the order of 2-3 km thick is all (eyeball estimate).

But with our cold air aloft, tops were well below -20° C (4° F), lots of ice formed in them and produced streamers of ice and virga across the sky, and in tiny areas, the precip got to the ground.

And with “partly cloudy” conditions, there were lots of gorgeous, highlighted scenes around the mountains.

Let us review yesterday’s clouds and weather and not think about the future too much, starting with an afternoon balloon sounding temperature and dew point profile from IPS MeteoStar:

The Tucson balloon sounding ("rawinsonde" in weatherspeak) launched about 3:30 PM yesterday. Takes about an hour to reach 60,000 feet, but goes higher. Cloud bases were just about at the top of Ms. Mt. Lemmon. Tops were only around 18,000 feet above sea level, but were extremely cold for such small clouds.
The Tucson balloon sounding (“rawinsonde” in weatherspeak) launched about 3:30 PM yesterday. Takes about an hour to reach 60,000 feet, but goes higher. Cloud bases were just about at the top of Ms. Mt. Lemmon. Tops were only around 18,000 feet above sea level, but were extremely cold for such small clouds.  Hence, they were only about 9,000 feet thick at their maximum.

So what do clouds look like when they have tops as cold as -28°Ç?

Well, I really didn’t get a good profile shot of those clouds, they were either too close, obscured by other clouds, or too faraway, so instead let us look at two dogs looking at something as a distraction:

4:11 PM. Dogs observing a plethora of glaciating Cumulus clouds, transitioning to Cumulonimbus.
4:11 PM. Dogs observing a plethora of glaciating Cumulus clouds, transitioning to Cumulonimbus.

Well, let’s start this when the ice first appeared in a cloud, much later in time than what was thought here yesterday morning.  If you logged this “first ice” you are worthy of a merit, a star on your baseball cap:

3:24 PM. FIrst ice of the day, finally, spotted on the SW horizon. The file size is huge so that you can see it for yourself. I had just about given up on ice in clouds, Notice, too, how small the clouds are at this time.
3:24 PM. FIrst ice of the day, finally, spotted on the SW  and WSW horizon in two little areas. The file size is huge so that you can see it for yourself. I had just about given up on ice in clouds, Notice, too, how small the clouds are at this time.

Well, while flawed from a cloud profile sense, here’s what they were looking at, it was the best I could do:

4:19 PM. Note sunlit shower reaching the ground.
4:19 PM. Note sunlit shower reaching the ground.  The hazy stuff is ice crystals, a lot of them all over the place.
4:22 PM. A close up in case you don't believe me that the rain was reaching the ground.
4:22 PM. A close up in case you don’t believe me that the rain was reaching the ground.  I sometimes find that credibility is lacking here.
4:39 PM. Eventually a cluster of precipitating clouds developed near the Catalina Mountains and here are dropping snow and graupel trails.
4:39 PM. Eventually a cluster of precipitating clouds developed near the Catalina Mountains and here are dropping snow and graupel trails.

Let us go zooming:

4:39 PM. Shaft up close. That dark, narrow line in the middle is without doubt a soft hail (graupel) strand. THere might be others, but this one is obvious. The verticality is due to faster falling particles, which graupel are because they are ultimately snowflakes that have captured cloud droplets on the way down, making them much heavier than just a snowflake.
4:39 PM. Shaft up close. That dark, narrow line in the middle is without doubt a soft hail (graupel) strand. THere might be others, but this one is obvious. The “verticality” is due to faster falling particles comprising that strand, which graupel are because they are ultimately snowflakes that have captured cloud droplets on the way down, making them much heavier than just a snowflake.
4:48 PM. Just snow falling out, no real "verticality", a sign of graupel falling out.
4:45 PM. Just light snow falling out here on the Catalinas, no real “verticality” in this shaft, which would be a sign of graupel falling out.
4:46 PM. An opening allowed this distance cross section of a cold, wintertime Cumulonimbus (capillatus) cloud streaming a shield of ice and virga downwind.
4:46 PM. An opening allowed this zoomed cross section of a cold, wintertime Cumulonimbus (capillatus) cloud streaming a shield of ice and virga downwind.  On the left sloping-upward part, the Cumulus turrets still contain liquid droplets (have that ruffled, hard look associated with the higher concentrations that go with droplet clouds compared to all ice clouds).  Sometimes, in spite of the low temperature, here, from the sounding the top is likely approaching the minimum temperature of -28°C, droplets can still survive for a short time before freezing, giving way to lower concentrations of ice crystals.   That appears to be the case here at the tippy top. of the cloud in the back  What is interesting here, an enigma, is that the foreground cloud in front of the cloud I was just discussing,  is clearly all ice from the smallest element to its top and mimics the cross section of the background cloud.  Could it be that its simply older and ice generated in the colder regions has permeated the whole cloud?

Below, diagrammed:

Same photo with writing on it since the written explanation didn't seem very satisfactory.
Same photo with writing on it since the written explanation didn’t seem very satisfactory.
5:07 PM. Graupel in the Gap (the Charouleau one). Well, maybe its a little beyond the gap.
5:07 PM. Graupel in the Gap (the Charouleau one). Well, maybe its a little beyond the Gap, but it sounded good to write that..  This started to fall out of a Cumulus congestus transitioning to a Cumulonimbus.  The first particles out the bottom are always the heaviest, hence, graupel or hail.

Looking elsewhere, there are snow showers everywhere!

5:08 PM. Nice shafting over there near Romero Canyon. Pretty straight up and down, so likely has a lot of small graupel in it.
5:08 PM. Nice shafting over there near Romero Canyon. Pretty straight up and down, so likely has a lot of small graupel in it.
5:08 PM. Looking down Tucson way, this is NOT a graupel shaft. Sure the particles are large, but look at how they're just kind of hanging, getting mixed around by a little turbulence. Guess aggregates of dendrites, ice crystals that grow like mad around -15° C, and because of being complex, often lock together when they collide. Its not unusual to have 20 or more single stellar. dendritic fern like crystals locked into a single snowflake and that would be a good guess about what this is. Where the bottom disappears, likely around 3000 feet above sea level, is where those big aggregates are melting into rain drops
5:08 PM. Looking down Tucson way, this is NOT a graupel shaft, but rather gently falling large snowflakes.. Sure the particles are large, but look at how they’re just kind of hanging there getting mixed around by a little turbulence, almost forming a mammatus look. There are likely aggregates of dendrites, fern-like ice crystals that grow like mad around -15° C, and because of being complex forms, often lock together when they collide. Its not unusual to have 20 or more single stellar. dendritic crystals locked into a single snowflake. Where the bottom disappears, likely around 3000 feet above sea level, is where those big aggregates are melting into rain drops.
5:10 PM. Interrupting the tedium with a nice neighborhood lighting scene as a sun poked between clouds.
5:10 PM. Interrupting the tedium with a nice neighborhood lighting scene as a sun poked between clouds.  We’re not completely cloud-centric here, but close.
5:26 PM. This strange scene of a very shallow snow cloud, completely composed of ice and snow, obscuring the tops of the Catalinas, but being very shallow, hardly above them may explain the cross section enigma. The snow cloud here is all that remains of a much deeper cloud that converted to all ice, then those crystals just settling out, the whole cloud dropping down as a snow flurry. It may well have been as deep as the cloud top on the left or higher before converting to ice and just falling to the ground en masse. Or is it, en toto?
5:26 PM. This strange scene of a very shallow snow cloud, completely composed of ice and snow, obscuring the tops of the Catalinas, but being very shallow, hardly above them may explain the cross section enigma. The snow cloud here is all that remains of a much deeper cloud that converted to all ice, then those crystals just settling out, the whole cloud dropping down as a snow flurry. It may well have been as deep as the cloud top on the left or higher before converting to ice and just falling to the ground “en masse.” Or is it, “en toto“?  What makes this odd is that there is usually some “cloud ice” (ice particles too small to have much fall velocity) at the level from which the precip fell from. You don’t see that here; just a belt of light snow.   Maybe this is why there was that shallow, glaciated cloud  in the Cumulonimbus cross section shot…..  That shalllow cloud was not a new portion, but rather a tail dragger like this stuff, once having been much higher and was actually ice settling out, not new rising, glaciated cloud.  From the back side, you can see that this ice cloud would appear to slope up  if viewed from the east instead of the west like our cross section iced out cloud.  Setting a record for hand waving today.  IS anybody still out there?  I don’t think so.  Maybe I need another dog picture….
5:34 PM. Here's the last of that unsual snow cloud as its last flakes settled to the ground.
5:34 PM. Here’s the last of that unsual snow cloud as its last flakes settled to the ground.

The day concluded with a very nice sunset:

5:53 PM. Sunset color with shafts of snow down Tucson way.
5:53 PM. Sunset color with shafts of snow turning to rain down Tucson way.

 

Now, the long dry spell…  Break through flow from the Pacific under the “blocking high”  eventually happens about a week away now, but more and more looks like that flow might stay too far to the north of us, rather blast northern Cal some more,  and not bring precip this far south.  The blocking high needs to be in the Gulf of AK, but now is being foretold to be much farther north…

The End, gasping for air here.  More like a treatise than a quick read!

The CDO roars after our 1.42 inches of rain

A few more hundredths fell after 7 AM yesterday, boosting our storm total to a remarkable 1.42 inches, January now about twice our long-term average.

Here’s what all that precip did to our beloved Cañada del Oro Wash:

3:53 PM. The CDO in full flow.
3:53 PM. The CDO in full flow at East Wilds Road, road closed.

Yesterday’s clouds

8:04 AM. A Stratocumulus overcast with areas of virga and light rain showers began the day.
8:04 AM. A Stratocumulus overcast with areas of virga and light rain showers began the day.

After a few more hundredths of rain, the skies broke open, and as we know well, some of our most spectacular scenes occur under deep blue skies punctuated by puffy Cumulus clouds, shadows and highlights on our now snow-capped Catalina Mountains.

10:36 AM. Cumulus clouds race toward Catalina borne on brisk southwest winds.
10:36 AM. Cumulus clouds race toward Catalina borne on brisk west winds.  In looking at this scene you can feel them coming at you.
10:36 AM. Deeper clouds capable of producing ice and precip still lay to the SSW of us.
10:36 AM. Deeper clouds capable of producing ice and precip still lay to the SSW of us.
11:19 AM. Heavy Cumulus line the Catalinas, spewing ice farther downwind.
11:19 AM. Heavy Cumulus line the Catalinas, spewing ice farther downwind.  Glinting rocks highlight the scene.
1:38 PM. Coming at you. The south end of the Tortolita Mountains is a common formation point in westerly and northwesterly flows for cloud street development, a line of clouds that stays in the same place, but elements are replaced.
1:38 PM. Coming at you. The south end of the Tortolita Mountains is a common formation point in westerly and northwesterly flows for cloud street development, a line of clouds that stays in the same place, but elements are replaced.
1:38 PM. The end of this cloud street shows that its tops got high enough to form a little ice, seen by that veil like cloud coming out the downwind end.
1:38 PM. The end of this cloud street shows that its tops got high enough to form a little ice, seen by that veil like cloud coming out the downwind end.
2:57 PM. Samaniego Ridge and its new coating.
2:57 PM. Samaniego Ridge and its new coating.
3:06 PM. Cloud streets continuing to stream off the Tortolita Mountains, but are now half the depth they were 2 h ago. No ice will form now.
3:06 PM. Cloud streets continuing to stream off the Tortolita Mountains, but are now half the depth they were 2 h ago. No ice will form now.
3:48 PM. "Devil's Post Pile" to the left of Samaniego Peak catches a sun break.
3:48 PM. “Devil’s Post Pile” to the left of Samaniego Peak catches a sun break.
4:01 PM. Last of the Tort cloud streets, shallower yet (estimated depth, 1000 feet) is about to fade into oblivion, wherever that is.
4:01 PM. Last of the Tort cloud streets, shallower yet (estimated depth, 1000-1500 feet) is about to fade into oblivion, wherever that is.

In the meantime, more highlights on Sam Ridge:

4:50 PM.
4:50 PM.  So pretty!
4:50.  Drawing back a bit for perspective on the scene.
4:50. Drawing back a bit for perspective on the scene.

Finally, that incredible sunset afterglow on our mountains:

5:46 PM.  I hope we never take such sights as yesterday's for granted.
5:46 PM. I hope we never take such sights as yesterday’s for granted.

 

The End.

Oops, oh yeah, storm tomorrow, supposed to begin in mid-day to afternoon hours.  Looks like a third of an incher.  Also looks to be a bit colder than the last storm, may see a flake or two by Tuesday morning.

Storm-weary Catalinans prepare for more strong storms, cold, and storm weariness

Catalinans experienced a FOURTH cloudy day in a row, and, over the past few days, including yesterday’s few drops that fell at 4:24 PM, have experienced over an inch of rain!

Some grumbling has started concerning muddy,  pot-holed and puddled up dirt roads, about the washes running across roads lately, water and mud splashing on the car day after day,  and brutally low temperatures dipping to well below 50° degrees in the morning now for several days in a row.  Its 40° F here as I write this.

While a brief respite is in progress now,  Catalinans were discouraged to learn that more strong storms are due in this weekend, bringing possibly damaging winds and heavy rains that will augment the poor road conditions.

How much rain?

Let us look below and see how much has been calculated by our best model at the University of Arizona’s Wildcat Hydro and Atmos Sci Dept  (I am so glad they provide this service; I donate to the Dept,  as we all should!):

Precip totals by 8 PM, January 23rd after a few storms have gone by.
Precip totals by 8 PM, January 23rd after a few storms have gone by.  As you can see lots of red and yelleows in Arizona’s critical mountain regions for snowpack, and we’re in the inch or so of rain, pretty much like the amount produced here by the last storm.  What a January this is turning out to be!

Hah!  We can’t complain too much about inclement weather compared to California’s pluvialities.  Here is a table and map of precip amounts for that State through just the first 14 days.  Prepare to gasp:

A map and table of the highest 20 rainfall totals in California and Nevada just through January 14th. Astounding! And 10-20 inches more are expected at some of these sites before the month is out.
A map and table of the highest 20 rainfall totals in California and Nevada just through January 14th. Astounding! And 10-20 inches more are expected at some of these sites before the month is out.  Yep, by Jan 14th, one station was closing in on 40 inches of rain!

The remarkable aspect of this rainfall anomaly on the West Coast and in the Southwest, which is also quite wet, is that it could not be seen in climate forecasts days to a couple of weeks in advance.  Its not that the folks at the Climate Prediction Center aren’t the best that we can get, its just a statement about how hard it is to get a longer term forecast right.  Many are right, but lately, recalling the “Big Niño Bust of 2015-16” where the forecasts of a wet Southwest and central and southern California went terribly awry, those forecasts have taken a beating.  Here’s what was expected this winter by the CPC, first, for January, a forecast made on the last day of December. when the forecast models we use day to day would have had some influence:

The precipitation forecast for January 2017 by the CPC.
The precipitation forecast for January 2017 by the CPC.

As can be seen, the extreme rains that hit California, and our own well above normal precip, though on the doorstep on December 31st, were unforeseen.  That’s how tough it is.

Below, the forecast for January through March, also going astray, though a recovery could be had by a very dry Feb and March in Cal and the Southwest, something not likely to happen now.

Below, the forecast for the three month period of January through March, also now going astray.
Below, the forecast for the three month period of January through March, also now going astray.

Glad I’m not forecasting for a month or three months!  Gads, yesterday we had ice galore here and there, and I had predicted that morning that it was doubtful that ice could form in our clouds yeserday and how about that rainbow yesterday afternoon, to change the subject quickly, but smoothly; hardly a ripple, something gleaned from the election debates:

4:59 PM. A rainbow.
4:59 PM. A rainbow, an implicit indicator of ice in clouds yesterday.  There was a lot in some areas, particularly over the Catalinas in the late afternoon.

Some additional views, including a horse, which should increase web traffic:

Horse, muddy corral, and supporting rainbow evidence for why the corral is muddy. Horse: "Why is that rainbow on my butt?"
Horse, muddy corral, and supporting rainbow evidence for why the corral is muddy. Horse “Chero-key”: “Why is that rainbow on my butt?”
Rainbow empties into a rain gauge.
Rainbow empties into a NWS-style, 8-inch diameter rain gauge.  Real weathermen have real rain gauges, not the cheap plastic toy types.  Just kidding, CoCo and rainlog, orgs that  use cheap plastic toy-type gauges.  Just kidding again, CoCo and rainlog. orgs.
5:09 PM. Here a completely different rainbow, because I moved a few feet, and the rain drops in the prior bows have fallen to the ground, empties into yet another 8-inch diameter rain gauge, a tipping bucket one which is online at KAZCATAL4. Its been under-measuring the rain, however, for some time.
5:09 PM. Here a completely different rainbow, because I moved a few feet, and the rain drops in the prior bows have fallen to the ground, empties into yet another 8-inch diameter rain gauge, a tipping bucket one which is online at KAZCATAL4. Its been under-measuring the rain, however, for some time.

OK, now for the rest of the day, your daily cloud diary:

8:09 AM. You got yer normal TUS exiting smog plume heading for Mark Albright's house in Continental Ranch over there on the right. There is some Stratus fractus in that plume as well. The damp air has caused some of the hygroscopic particles to swell up; be deliquesed, which increases the opacity of smog. Such an effect is particularly bad on the East Coast ahead of cold fronts when warm, humid, smog-laden air is brought northward ahead of fronts. Gads, its awful. Even when the sky is cloudless, you can hardly tell its blue!
8:09 AM. You got yer normal TUS exiting smog plume heading for Mark Albright’s house in Continental Ranch over there on the right. There is some Stratus fractus in that plume as well. The damp air has caused some of the hygroscopic particles to swell up; be deliquesced, which increases the opacity of smog. Such an effect is particularly bad on the East Coast ahead of cold fronts when warm, humid, smog-laden air is brought northward ahead of fronts. Gads, its awful. Even when the sky is cloudless, you can hardly tell its blue!  Above the smog, Stratocumulus.
9:36 AM. Had evidence of a little smog up thisaway, too. Again, the whitish haze is due to deliquesced partilces. As the air dries out and the day warms up, this effect disappears. even though the aerosol particles that were "deliquesced" are still around. The Five Satins, "Still Around." That takes me back aways.
9:36 AM. Had evidence of a little smog up thisaway, too. Again, the whitish haze is due to deliquesced partilces. As the air dries out and the day warms up, this effect disappears. even though the aerosol particles that were “deliquesced” are still around. The Five Satins, “Still Around.”  Gads, that takes me back a-ways when I was 2 inches taller than now….
10:10 AM. Smog plume, as sometimes happens, begins to drift northward as the mountains start launching Cumulus clouds and cause the wind to move toward them. Can't say too much about the central cloud feature, a gesture of some kind it would appear.
10:10 AM. Smog plume, as sometimes happens, begins to drift northward as the mountains start launching Cumulus clouds and cause the wind to move toward them. Can’t say too much about the central cloud feature, a gesture of some kind it would appear.
10:27 AM. Nice lighting scene I thought.
10:27 AM. Nice lighting scene I thought.  Cumulus turrets were rocketing upward at this time.
1:48 PM. Not much going on. Underlying Cumulus bases lifted, some Cumulus spreading out adding to the general Stratocumulus deck. No ice around, as was forecast.
1:48 PM. Not much going on. Underlying Cumulus bases lifted, some Cumulus spreading out adding to the slightly higher general Stratocumulus deck. No ice around, as was forecast.
3:02 PM. Something is going terribly WRONG with the anticipation of no ice producing clouds yesterday. Rain begins to fall on the Catalinas.
3:02 PM. Something is going terribly WRONG with the anticipation of no ice producing clouds yesterday. Rain begins to fall on the Catalinas.
3:20 PM. A totally humiliating, completely glaciated tiny Cumulonimbus remains breaks into view from the Stratocumulus deck.
3:20 PM. A totally humiliating, completely glaciated tiny Cumulonimbus remains breaks into view from the Stratocumulus deck.  On the other hand. another fascinating day of ice multiplication here in Arizona!  Look at that little guy, all ice, and tops almost certainly warmer than about -12° C from sounding data.  This would mean that those 10s to hundreds per liter of ice that you’re looking at are needles and hollow column ice crystals called “sheaths.”  Man, I wanted to sample that cloud so bad!  What happened to cause this cloud was that at one point its top got a couple of degrees Celsius colder than the surrounding clouds that did not produce ice.  Rain was reaching the ground at this time o er there even though it is in the dissipating stage, too.
3:43 PM. In the meantime, the showers emitting from the clouds over the Catalinas were getting more enthusiastic (read, "personally insulting"). No doubt if you could get on top, they would have looked exactly like that dissipating Cb shown above.
3:43 PM. In the meantime, the showers emitting from the clouds over the Catalinas were getting more enthusiastic (read, “personally insulting”). No doubt if you could get on top, they would have looked exactly like that dissipating Cb shown above.

But, then there were some great sun and lighting scenes in those showers, not to mention the brilliant rainbow that was to come:

4:47 PM.  Its a little crazy, I know, but I just love these rainy, sunlit scenes on our mountains, or those sun and shadow scenes that I post so many of.  Just never will get tired of them.
4:47 PM. Its a little crazy, I know, but I just love these rainy, sunlit scenes on our mountains, or those sun and shadow scenes that I post so many of. Just never will get tired of them.
4:51.  More of same.  Notice inclusion of man-sized rain gauge in foreground.  Its a nice touch if you, too, have one, which I hope you do.
4:51. More of same. Notice inclusion of man-sized rain gauge in foreground. Its a nice touch if you, too, have one, which I hope you do.  It really says who you are.

The End

Thanks, if anyone is out there….

Cold clouds and pretty, wintry scenes as long as they don’t last too long

What a gorgeous day yesterday was with deep blue skies dotted with Cumulus and one or two shallow Cumulonimbus, highlighted by our snow-capped Catalina Mountains.  After the brief warm up, more storms ahead for Catalina!

Yesterday’s clouds

DSC_0487
10:23 AM. By this time Cumulus were popping up all over, and with the temperature at just 10,000 feet above sea level (7,000 feet above Catalina) cloud mavens everywhere were pretty sure ice would eventually form in lots of Cumulus.
DSC_0490
10:24 AM. Shallow Cumulus congestus (left side) converting into an equally shallow Cumulonimbus capillatus (right half of cloud). This scene from a fairly primitive area of Arizona.
10:26 AM.
10:26 AM.  Pretty scene over Saddlebrooke.
DSC_0494
10:37 AM. Ice, there it is. Even shallow clouds spewed ice crystals and or small snowflakes (clusters of individual ice crystals.

Explanatory module below

The TUS balloon sounding, launched at about 3:30 AM yesterday morning from the campus of the University of Arizona Wildcats.
The TUS balloon sounding, launched at about 3:30 AM yesterday morning from the campus of the University of Arizona Wildcats.
DSC_0496
10:27 AM. Wintry scene #1, view toward the Charouleau Gap, and why do the French make spelling so hard?
11:04 AM. "Ice, there it is!", to paraphrase a song from "In Living Color."
11:04 AM. “Ice, there it is!”, to paraphrase a song from “In Living Color.”
DSC_0508
11:12 AM. Wintry scene #2. View is toward the Charouleau Gap.
DSC_0510
11:12 AM. Icy, but shallow Cumulonimbus cloud heads toward Catalina spewing a light rain shower and soft hail called “graupel.”
11:44 AM. Wintry scene #3.
11:44 AM. Wintry scene #3.
DSC_0526
12:32 PM. Not an advertisement for the University of Washington Huskies sports powerhouse, but rather a demonstration and graupel did, in fact,  fall from our shallow Cumulonimbus clouds yesterday.  BTW, the Washington Huskies play the NFL-ready, #1 Alabama Crimson Tide on New Year’s Eve at 1 PM AST in a fubbal playoff game.  It would be great if you watched, raising viewer numbers, and possibly therein,  the revenue stream flwoing into the University of Washington (from which I emanated). Oh, there appears to be a conical graupel there on the left. Graupel falling through a cloud of droplets often stays oriented with one face down, and that face collects all droplets that are freezing on it making that downward  facing side, as you would imagine,  bigger than the rear part, and so you get a pyramidal-shaped piece of soft ice. If it mainly tumbled on the way down through the cloud, it would be pretty spherical.  That white streak on the right is one that’s falling.
11:45 AM. Another ice producing candidate forms in cloud street aligned with Catalina.
11:12 AM. Another ice producing candidate forms in cloud street aligned with Catalina.  Couple of drops is all that came out of this.
DSC_0552
3:18 PM.  Very shallow, ice-producing clouds.  Few in the area had ice at this point in the afternoon, and a very tedious inspection of these clouds, comparing them with surrounding clouds,  suggested that their tops were just a bit higher than the ones around it that did not spew a little ice.
The TUS balloon sounding launched at 3:30 PM AST, also with writing on it.
The TUS balloon sounding launched at 3:30 PM AST, also with writing on it.
5:06 PM. Wintry scene #3 Pretty, eh?
5:06 PM. Wintry scene #4 Pretty, eh?
5:32 PM. Stratocumulus with red liner. Nice.
5:32 PM. Stratocumulus with red liner. Nice.

After the brief warm up ahead, still looks  “troughulent” and stormy in the SW as December closes out,  continuing into January.

The End

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:

DSC_0179
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.