Category Archives: Cumulus clouds

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

galaxy-like storm pinwheels toward Catalina; 0.32 inches of RAIN logged so far

At this hour, a small,  pin-wheeling, galaxy-like vortex is drifting toward Catalina.  Last night the town was ravaged by 0.30 inches of rain and winds to 50 mph around 2 AM as one of its pin-wheeling bands came through, likely with a big arcus cloud fronting it.

This was the first measurable rain in Catalina since I don’t know when.  You probably don’t remember, either, its been that long.

More rain is expected as the little pin-wheeling vortex moves overhead of the little village of Catalina today and on to New Mexico tomorrow.

Plunked  below is the Pima County ALERT rain map amounts with the Sutherland Heights amount plunked on it as well.  We did pretty well it appears, compared to surrounding amounts.  Yay.  Our desert will love this!  The greatest amount here is 0.46 inches at Dan Saddle in the CDO upper watershed.  I guess he hasn’t found it yet.

Ann local rain mapn 20170509
As of 4 AM today. If you want an update go here. Also here’s the U of AZ rainlog site. Should be pretty well filled in by 8 AM or so.

Some Clouds

8:46 AM. Nice little cloud streets stream off the Catalinas from the southeast. Buys-Ballots Law says there a low to your right facing upwind, or, to our southwest.
8:46 AM.  This pretty scene shows a nice little cloud streets composed of Cumulus  streaming off the Catalinas from the southeast. Buys-Ballots Law says there a low to your right facing upwind, or, to our southwest.  Looked kind of like a summer scene, didn’t it?  The green tinge continues in the desert and on the mountains, even though it hasn’t rained, its been warmer than normal since I don’t know when.  Pretty remarkable when you think about it.

And if you mention our desert vegetation, as I have,  how can you not exult over the fabulous blooms on one of the most horrible plants on earth (haha), as far as spines and glockets go, the prickly pear!

11:48 AM, though I suppose the time is not needed. So pretty.
11:48 AM, though I suppose the time is not needed. So pretty, our “Arizona Rose.”  Some day, they’ll GMO the spines and glockets away, I’m quite sure…
1:41 PM. By early afternoon there were lots of clouds with ice in them and virga and light rain showers around. Techincally this could be a Cumulonimbus, but its a pretty weak one. The bases were again, as the day before above the freezing level. You can see that in the snow plume virga below, one that disappears at the melting level unless the shaft is very dense.
1:41 PM. By early afternoon there were lots of clouds with ice in them and virga and light rain showers around. Techincally this could be a Cumulonimbus, but its a pretty weak one. The bases were again, as the day before above the freezing level. You can see that in the snow virga below, which disappears as the flakes melt just below the freezing level.
3:14 PM. Here's a nice cross-section showing that in general, the shower clouds weren't especially deep about this time.
3:14 PM. Here’s a nice cross-section looking toward Oracle Ridge down Equestrian Trail Road showing that in general, the shower clouds weren’t especially deep at this time, so the shafts coming out of them weren’t so great, either.
3:54 PM. It wasn't long before further deepening occurred and significant showers rolled across the OV. Mom's gone now, but that her trotter horse wind vane now perched on our fence....
3:54 PM. It wasn’t long before further deepening occurred and significant showers rolled across the OV. Mom’s gone now, but that her trotter horse wind vane now perched on our fence….
6:18 PM. Those showers pretty much missed Catalina, but as the evening approached some breaks in the clouds allowed those gorgeous highlighting of our mountains. Its a form of heaven, I think.
6:18 PM. Those showers pretty much missed Catalina, but as the evening approached some breaks in the clouds allowed those gorgeous highlighting of our mountains. Its a form of heaven, I think.

 

The Weather Way Ahead

Our models, supported by those ensemble “spaghetti” maps are making most of May look pretty darn nice, at least through 20th-25th as the upper air configuration reprises troughs twixt now and then.  They’re looking like dry cool fronts, though, no rain in ’em.   Snowbirds done left too soon!

 

The End

Sprinkly clouds passed over during night; check dusty cars for drop craters and evidence of a trace of rain

Honestly, I gave up on the chance of rain overnight into this morning at sunset yesterday due to the absolutely clear skies.   And, like you, woke up to not one cloud within a 100 miles!  How could this be, given the synoptic situation?  Started slicing apples for some humble pie, but then, when looking at a radar and cloud loop (this one from IPS MeteoStar) saw that lower clouds had magically erupted to our west before midnight,  and by the time they got here in the early morning hours, had little showers coming out of them!

I did not park my own dusty car out from the carport, either. I thought I would at LEAST see a pile of clouds on Ms. Lemmon, too, this morning!  Sure wrong there.  Here are a couple of images from what has to be considered a tiny weather miracle:

201704290745_SWR 201704290830_SWR

Chances of rain increasing (imagine!), for  just over a week from now as actual model outputs begin reflecting what spaghetti (the many outputs) was indicating, i.e., a big upper trough in the West-Great Basin area.  At the time that spaghetti was indicating that, the actual model outputs were not, indicating that they were outliers.

Check this out from last night.  Since this model output is more in agreement with that crazy spaghetti plot, it inherently has more credibility, and is likely not an outlier model run.   That what the NOAA spaghetti factory is used for, getting a handle on those runs that might be wild, and those that are more likely to verify.

Its valid on the morning of May 8th and shows a trough coming out of the Pacific ahead of the one from the Pac NW, shown at this time over northern Cal.  The hope here would be that the one from the SW would have a generous amount of sub-tropical clouds with rain in them.

2017042900_WST_GFS_500_HGT_WINDS_228

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6:04 AM, 28 April. About the only lenticular seen. Oh, well, there were a few weak ones off to the north, but that was it. CIrrostratus is the higher cloud, too thin to be Altostratus.

Cloud shots will be posted later this morning of the next day….. (i didn’t get to is as I had planned)

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12:52 PM, April 28. There can hardly be a better shot of Stratocumulus. While it looks dark, it was partly because of the Cirrostratus or Altostratus overcast; it was that thick, not thick enough to reach temperatures where ice would form in it, and rain would come out.  And no rain did, and soon this whole overcast was gone, as was the higher Cirrostratus that shadowed it.
4:09 PM. No ice came out of these clouds, but they did allow those beautiful sunny highlights on our Catalina Mountains.
4:09 PM. No ice came out of these clouds, but they did allow those beautiful sunny highlights on our Catalina Mountains.
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4:40 PM. Its remarkable how after weeks and weeks of no rain that so much of our mountains and desert vegetation remains as green as it is.

Yesterday afternoon, the 29th.  Here’s what shallow, icy clouds look like, reflecting the unusually cold air above us.

4:44 PM, April 29th.
4:44 PM, April 29th.
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5:43 AM this morning. In an unusually timely post, here’s a leftover ice puff from yesterday over there beyond Charouleau Gap. You’d be guessing, if you cared, that the tops of both of these icy clouds was colder than about -20° C (4°F) since there seems to be so much ice.

 

The End

PS:  Chance of rain still holding for the 8th.  See below for new depiction of big “cutoff” vortex over AZ from last evening’s model run:

Valid at 5 PM, May 8th.
Valid at 5 PM, May 8th.

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

In particular, those Altocumulus clouds, “cold” Cirrocumulus (ones that transform to ice immediately),  and those “Altocumulocirrus” clouds combining  with  scenes of “regular” cirriform clouds.  Lots of interesting sights to have seen yesterday.  All these the result of marginal moisture aloft and strong winds, up around 100 mph at the highest Cirrus levels.

Let us begin as cloud maven folk by examining the late afternoon sounding launched from our Wildcat balloon launching machine at the University of Arizona, courtesy of IPS Meteostar:

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

The weather way ahead

Still looking for that chance of rain before July….  haha

Troughy conditions will actually recur aloft over us over the next few weeks it seems, which means slight chances of rain, but periodic cold fronts passing by, mostly dry ones.  Best chance for rain still seems to be around the 20th, plus or minus a day or two, even though mod outputs have backed off that scene.  But, we have our spaghetti that tells us the models will likely bring back that threat around the 20th, even if some individual runs show nothing at all or only close calls.  We shall see if this interpretation has any credibility at all, won’t we?

Of note, Cal having big April in rain and snow after the gigantic January and February accumulations!  Looks like they’ll continue to get slugged by unusually strong storms, off and on, for another couple of weeks.  Water year totals are going to be truly gigantic.

The End

“Peru’s Niño”

I thought you’d like to read this (Peru’s Niño), forwarded to me by Niño expert, Nate M.   Pretty incredible to read about what is happening down there in the wake of the Big Niño of 2015-16,  which really turned out to be more of a couch potato in terms of weather production in the Great SW.

But, all this winter,  along the Equator near the coast of South America, there has been something we used to call an “El Niño”,  but is downplayed or ignored these days because of a new definition that seemed to explain more weather when it occurred, “Region 3.4” a large zone along the Equator WAY out in the Pacific rather than something near the South American coast (that zone now called, “Regions 1 and 2”),  as nicely illustrated by NOAA here.

But what has been the effect of what we might call the “Classic Niño”, a warm strip of water along the South American coast, one that doesn’t extend too far into the Pacific?  “Read all about it”, as they used to say.   Its pretty remarkable.

And here’s what the SST field looks like.  Its boiling down there off South America!  (Speaking figuratively, of course):

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

Peru’s Niño can be thought of as a “classic Niño”, the ones written about in the decades before about 1990 or so when the definition of what constituted a  NIño (or Niña) was expanded and delineated more sharply among several definitions that were floating around. We ended up focusing on a region WAY out in the Pacific Ocean called, “Region 3.4” that SEEMED to explain more over the prior years.

What’s so interesting about this is that the “Classic Niño” has been underway pretty much all this winter, and we’ve had, especially in California, a classic Niño response; that is,  abnormally heavy precip farther down the West Coast that no one anticipated.

Hmmmmm.

Well, the correlations with Cal precip and “classic Niño” occurrences will take a huge jump upward after THIS winter!

End of Statement (hand-waving)  on Niñoes.

——————————–

Local weather statement:  for immediate release

Cooler, fluctuating weather foretold here for that latter part of March, I don’t know how many weeks ago, is on the doorstep after the long, anomalously hot dry spell.  Poor wildflowers have been suffering, too, fading, looking a little stunted after a great beginning, one rivaling the great displays of 2010.

All of the local weatherfolk are on top of this now, and so no point recasting that stuff.  HECK, you can go to Weather Underground1
and get as “good as can be” forecast for Catalina (Sutherland Heights) out to ten days!  And, there’s nothing worse for a weather forecaster with forecasting in his blood, than to be excited about an “incoming” and when you mention it to a neighbor he replies, “Yeah, I heard about that already.  Supposed to get a quarter of an inch.”  There is no air whatsoever in the “balloon” after that.  So, if you have a weather-centric friend who says something about the upcoming weather, pretend that you haven’t heard about it yet, “DON’T say something as hurtful, as “Yeah, I heard about that already.”

So, here, we go the long route because most weatherfolk are afraid to go too far into the future because its often WRONG.  Our models tend to lie a lot after about even a week, so only the brave go out even ten days!

However, here, we go out as much as two weeks and more because its not a truly professional site but rather want to get something out there earlier than other people, sometimes called a “scoop” in the news and weather business.  That’s why our motto here is, “Right or wrong, you heard it here first!”  Furthermore, if a longer range forecast posted here is WRONG, you won’t hear about it anymore!

Cloud maven person will say this about the first incoming of several fronts:  comes in early Thursday morning, its strong!    Rainfall potential:  10% chance of less than 0.12 inches, 10% chance of more than 0.75 inches.  Best of those is the average, or about 0.4350 inches in this one.  It has great POTENTIAL to be a soaker, but mods have been all over the place; hence, the large range of potential amounts.  At least some measurable rain seems to be in the bag, a paper one please, because plastic is insidious.  Note, CMP’s forecast is more generous than that found in WU’s latest forecast for Catalinaland.

The weather WAY ahead, unprofessionally so

Let us look beyond the professional forecasting limits to April:

We know we got several storms/fronts zipping across AZ as March goes out like a lion, but what about April?

Looks like that pattern will continue into April with temperatures below normal for the first part.  The end of the unprofessional forecasting portion of this blog, though we do have our NOAA spaghetti to hang our umbrella on….  Check it out for about two weeks ahead.

Some clouds recent clouds, including a couple from yesterday

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

The End

———————–
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.
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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!

Lots of interesting clouds yesterday; partial double rainbow, too

Light rain showers overnight, just before midnight, and again just after 1 AM AST,  raised our Sutherland Heights storm total to 0.33 inches, decent but disappointing in view of model and personal expectations (0.60 inches).

What was especially interesting is that those nighttime light showers didn’t show up on the TUS radar, suggesting very shallow tops, perhaps a “warm rain” event, one not having ice, or an “ice multiplication” event with tops warmer than -10° C, about where the tops were on the 5 PM AST TUS sounding.

By this morning, the tops were barely below freezing (about -3° C).  Don’t expect to see ice today, except at Cirrus levels!

5:53 PM.

5:53 PM.

5:52 PM. Drawing back a little.
5:52 PM. Drawing back a little.  Pretty dramatic scene I think with that sun break running along there underneath the Stratocumulus clouds.
7:06 AM. Had another round of amazingly shallow Stratocumulus clouds precipitating on the Catalina Mountains. Hardly any depth at all to this cloud, and yet there the precip on the mountain!
7:06 AM. Had another round of amazingly shallow Stratocumulus clouds precipitating on the Catalina Mountains. Hardly any depth at all to this cloud, and yet there the precip on the mountain!  Tops were hardly higher than Ms Mt Sara Lemmon!  Must have been drizzle.  Let’s check the sounding nearest this time, see what’s up:
The NWS at the U of AZ balloon sounding, launched around 3:30 AM. Seems to indicate cloud tops were colder than -10°C, plenty cold enough for ice formations, so not as exciting as if they were, say, at -5°C.
The NWS at the U of AZ balloon sounding, launched around 3:30 AM. Seems to indicate cloud tops were colder than -10°C, plenty cold enough for ice formations, so not as exciting as if they were, say, at -5°C.  So, I retract my excitement excitedly!
11:00 AM. Still overcast with Stratocumulus clouds, but occasionally ones showing precipitation, making them the whole scene, Stratocumulus stratiformis (covers a big portion of the sky) "praecipitatio" (is emitting precip, here maybe drizzle) or it may be very light snow. You can just make out the snowline, around 6,000 feet on the Cat Mountains.
11:00 AM. Still overcast with Stratocumulus clouds, but occasionally ones showing precipitation, making them the whole scene, Stratocumulus stratiformis (covers a big portion of the sky) “praecipitatio” (is emitting precip, here maybe drizzle) or it may be very light snow. You can just make out the snowline (center), around 6,000 feet on the Cat Mountains.
2:01 PM. Eventually the sky broke open to reveal that deep blue we see in the wintertime as Cumulus clouds began to take shape. Aren't these scenes tremendous, so clean looking, like you're out at sea, far away from land.
2:01 PM. Eventually the sky broke open to reveal that deep blue we see in the wintertime as Cumulus clouds began to take shape. Aren’t these scenes tremendous, so clean looking, like you’re out at sea, far away from land?
3:51 PM. Gradually the tops of the Cumulus clouds reached up to lower temperatures where ice could form and something resembling our summer rain shafts began to appear here and there.
3:51 PM. Gradually the tops of the Cumulus clouds reached up to lower temperatures where ice could form and something resembling our summer rain shafts began to appear here and there.
5:12 PM. The front side of somebody's nice rainbow.
5:12 PM. The front side of somebody’s nice rainbow over there toward Marana.
5:45 PM. And a little before the rainbows, some nice, dramatic lighting on our desert vegies under a dark overcast of Stratocumulus.
5:45 PM. And a little before the rainbows, some nice, dramatic lighting on our desert vegies under a dark overcast of Stratocumulus.

Last of the Cal rain blasters is making its way across the State today, with another 5-10 inches expected in favored Sierra and coastal ranges in the next 24-36 h. Numerous sites north of SFO have now logged over 100 inches since October 1st!  Imagine.  Great to see that Cal drought vanquished in a single year, so unexpected.  Let’s hope the Oroville Dam, N of Sacto, holds.

The End

PS: Using point and shoot cam now with “real” camera in the shop for awhile.

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….