“Frog strangler”, folk expression from the South for extra heavy rains, btw, which is what we had, except we have toads, not frogs.
Here’s what I think happened to produce 3.36 inches on Sutherland Heights. The winds were from the east at cloud levels. Cumulus spawned off the Catalinas/Mt Lemmon area, but the wind shear brought the tops over Sutherland Heights about the time they got cold enough to form ice, yesterday around -5° to -10°C (higher than the usual temps for ice formation because the cloud bases were so warm. I know what you’re thinking, “huh?” Take my word for it, that’s the way it works; the warmer the bottom of a cloud, the higher the temperature at which ice forms in it. Of course, over the oceans cloud base temperature doesn’t make that much difference… I better quit here on that.
Where was I? Oh… So, leaning out from the mountains is where they began to dump their loads beginning in mid-morning, when updrafts were likely modest. The first one missed Sutherland Heights altogether (except for a sprinkle, but drenched Oracle Road and the Basha’s area. And, likely because it didn’t rain on the east side of the Catalinas until later, those monster turrets kept spawning upwind of us.
The second in this series was a stronger turret, one that could stand more upright against the wind shear and dropped its load on Sutherland Heights. Indicative of stronger updrafts in that one was the onset of thunder, first aloft, then in ensuing turrets shooting upward, increasing cloud-to-ground strokes until it was unsafe to go outside without the thought of being fried.
And of course, the rainrates picked up, and stayed that way as new turrets launched off the same zone of the Catalina Mountains through mid-afternoon. That in itself was remarkable, and if you looked around, you could see that it wasn’t raining all that much either to the north or south of Catalina, and that the rainshafts faded as they trekked across Oro Valley.
The net result, an incredulous 3.36 inches here (3.37 inches in NWS-style gauge here), bound to raise eyebrows concerning possible rain gauge fraud; nothing like it anywhere in the local area! The ALERT gauge on the Golder Ranch Bridge only had 1.46 inches and Samaniego Peak, 1.93 inches! There will be very few days in our lifetimes like yesterday. Go to rainlog.org to see how amazing our local amount was in comparison to other gauges, once again raising the specter of fraud due to an outlandish amount1.
And, again, it was closer to what a REAL monsoon day in India, say, at Cherrapunji, where passing heavy rains are accompanied by the occasional thunderclap. So, in a sense, yesterday you were climatically transported to a land faraway, where tree roots are so big they make bridges out of them…
Some photos of this event, well, too many, really, after all, too many cloud photos is our niche!:
The End, of a very hurriedly thrown together piece. Got actual work that must be completed soon, something if you read it, it would be so boring you’d want to shoot yourself before you finished it! Sciency stuff. Oh, well, nose to grindstone now.
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.
Still cold aloft, so having some nice Cumulus today is in the bag, the early Stratocumulus devolving into Cu, that is.
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:
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:
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:
Well, while flawed from a cloud profile sense, here’s what they were looking at, it was the best I could do:
Let us go zooming:
Looking elsewhere, there are snow showers everywhere!
The day concluded with a very nice sunset:
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!
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:
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.
In the meantime, more highlights on Sam Ridge:
Finally, that incredible sunset afterglow on our mountains:
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.
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!):
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:
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:
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.
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:
Some additional views, including a horse, which should increase web traffic:
OK, now for the rest of the day, your daily cloud diary:
But, then there were some great sun and lighting scenes in those showers, not to mention the brilliant rainbow that was to come:
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!
Explanatory module below
After the brief warm up ahead, still looks “troughulent” and stormy in the SW as December closes out, continuing into January.
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:
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.
Doesn’t happen every November, thunder, but it sure pounded away at times yesterday. Seemed louder than usual thunder a few times even with the lightning over there by the Tortolita Mountains. Of course, that’s where the heaviest rain fell as several T-storms tracked along a similar path over there just a little to the W through N of us, Bio2, in one of the heavier cloberations receiving 1.17 inches.
Here, in The Heights, we received a disappointing, but nevertheless welcomed final total of 0.24 inches. This brings our total here in Sutherland Heights for November up to 0.60 inches. Average is 0.96 inches1. Here, the regional totals as the storm was coming to an end:
As is proper, let us begin examining the nubilations of our storm by looking at those clouds that preceded the actual rain day yesterday.
Moving ahead to yesterday…..
The great thing about yesterday was that because the upper trough lagged so much behind the cold front, you could be sure it wasn’t over, that is, the rain chances. In fact, as the wind turns aloft from a southerly or southwesterly direction to a more westerly one, we here in Catalina have a better chance of having the clouds pile up over us, even if they’re not full fledged Cumulonimbus clouds, they can still reach depths where they precipitate while upwind, they don’t because they may not be deep enough. The Catalina Mountains provides the lift that helps do this, and we saw that happen later in the afternoon and evening when it began to rain again long after the cold front and it so-so rain band went by.
The End, FINALLY!
1If we don’t get more rain by the end of November, I will delete the sentence of a week or so ago stating that November would have above average rainfall. No use having people see that.
We’ve waited a LONG time for a rain day. It was so nice, so photogenic as well. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
Also, you may have seen the Froude Number1 in action as Cumulus congestus and Cumulonimbus clouds developed and went around the sides of the Catalina Mountains instead of developing over them and dumping big shafts of rain on them. The heaviest rains yesterday were due to streamers of showers and with an OCNL TSTMS that were north and south of us, Oracleville, Bio2 area, and Marana, Avra Valley where over half an inch was logged in some places.
Still , we managed a third of an inch here in Sutherland Heights, the first appreciable rain since I don’t know when, though, I could look it up. Too long, though, even for Catalina.
Some regional totals, 3 AM to 3 AM: Precipitation Report for the following time periods ending at: 03:19:00 11/04/16 Data is preliminary and unedited. —- indicates missing data Gauge 24 Name Location ID# minutes hour hours hours hours —- —- —- —- —- —- —————– ——————— Catalina Area 1010 0.08 Golder Ranch Horseshoe Bend Rd in Saddlebrooke 1020 0.12 Oracle Ranger Stati approximately 0.5 mi SW of Oracle 1040 0.08 Dodge Tank Edwin Rd 1.3 mi E of Lago Del Oro Parkway 1050 0.16 Cherry Spring approximately 1.5 mi W of Charouleau Gap 1060 0.16 Pig Spring approximately 1.1 mi NE of Charouleau Gap 1070 0.24 Cargodera Canyon NE corner of Catalina State Park 1080 0.20 CDO @ Rancho Solano Cañada Del Oro Wash NE of Saddlebrooke 1100 0.16 CDO @ Golder Rd Cañada Del Oro Wash at Golder Ranch Rd
Santa Catalina Mountains 1030 0.04 Oracle Ridge Oracle Ridge, approximately 1.5 mi N of Rice Peak 1090 0.16 Mt. Lemmon Mount Lemmon 1110 0.16 CDO @ Coronado Camp Cañada Del Oro Wash 0.3 mi S of Coronado Camp 1130 0.28 Samaniego Peak Samaniego Peak on Samaniego Ridge 1140 0.08 Dan Saddle Dan Saddle on Oracle Ridge 2150 0.16 White Tail Catalina Hwy 0.8 mi W of Palisade Ranger Station 2280 0.04 Green Mountain Green Mountain 2290 0.16 Marshall Gulch Sabino Creek 0.6 mi SSE of Marshall Gulch
Santa Catalina Foothills 2090 0.04 TV @ Guest Ranch Tanque Verde Wash at Tanque Verde Guest Ranch 2100 0.16 DEQ Swan Swan Rd at Calle del Pantera 2160 0.08 Sabino @ USFS Dam Sabino Creek at USFS Dam 2170 0.24 Ventana @ Sunrise Ventana Canyon Wash at Sunrise Rd 2190 0.16 Al-Marah near El Marah on Bear Canyon Rd 2200 0.04 AC Wash @ TV Bridge Agua Caliente Wash at Tanque Verde Rd 2210 0.00 Catalina Boosters Houghton Road 0.1 mi S of Catalina Highway 2220 0.04 Agua Caliente Park Agua Caliente Park 2230 0.04 El Camino Rinconado El Camino Rinconado 0.5 mi N of Reddington Rd 2240 0.04 Molino Canyon Mt Lemmon Highway near Mile Post 3 2390 0.24 Finger Rock @ Skyli Finger Rock Wash at Sunrise Rd
Except for a morning or afternoon sprinkle, no rain in sight, just a warm up back to above average temperatures. Dang.
1The young fluid dynamicist, Richard Penniman, fascinated by the flow around mountains, and who later became known as the rock and R&B entertainer, “Little Richard”, first brought the Froude Number to public attention in his song, “Tutti Froude-e.” The title, after an early release failed to capture the public’s imagination, was later revised for greater “accessibility”, to the song we know today as, “Tutti Frutti.”
2Who can forget “Max and the Storm Troopers” and that great song? I would submit, “everyone.” Of course, few know that after 1968 they changed their name to “Led Zeppelin.” And that, my friends, is “the rest of the story”, as Paul Harvey might say if he was lying about something anyway.
A horse photo will always enhance a blog about clouds. Expecting a little uptick in readership due to this ploy, maybe will break out of the single digit column.
Not much happened early on, a thin film of Cirrostratus covered much of the sky, delaying the expected development of convection, as would be evidenced by the formation of Cumulus clouds, until mid-afternoon.
But they did form, mostly to the S through W of Catalinaland, upwind of us, and eventually rumbled in on their last legs as weak thunderstorms with gushes of sprinkles and gusty breezes, maybe ones over 15 mph!
Over there in Marana and Avra Valley, those places upstream of us, some spots got more than half an inch. But, i it seems this year that storms die when they move toward Catalina, and especially, toward MY house and its many raingauges (3).
Still, it was nice to feel cool breezes, air chilled by falling rain, even if elsewhere.
Here are a few dull and disappointing cloud shots from yesterday, including one with a horse:
Still have rain chances last few days of Oct into early Nov.