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.
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.
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!
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!
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:
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.
Cloud shots will be posted later this morning of the next day….. (i didn’t get to is as I had planned)
Yesterday afternoon, the 29th. Here’s what shallow, icy clouds look like, reflecting the unusually cold air above us.
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:
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 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.
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):
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.
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
———————– 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.)
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:
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:
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:
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!
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.
PS: Using point and shoot cam now with “real” camera in the shop for awhile.
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: