Category Archives: Cumulus clouds

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

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

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

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

The End

Powering up

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

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

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

The End

‘Nuf said

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

2016-17 WY progress repor thru July

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

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

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

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

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

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

The weather way ahead

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

 

The End

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Your cloud dairy for May 9th

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

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

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

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

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

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

The End

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.

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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:

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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.

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Local weather statement:  for immediate release

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

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

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

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

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

The weather WAY ahead, unprofessionally so

Let us look beyond the professional forecasting limits to April:

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

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

Some clouds recent clouds, including a couple from yesterday

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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

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1Although “Weather Underground” might sound like an org has a radical origin, maybe something left over from the late 1960s, this particular one was NOT formed by 60s “weatherman” terrorists like Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn (the link is for those of you who may have set trash cans on fire, as happened at San Jose State to protest the Vietnam War, to look back at those days in horror or nostalgia; take your pick) , but rather by genuine weather geeks (haha, I count myself among them, those that can’t get enough of weather, there can never be too much, like the guys mentioned in this “Cloud City” article.)

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

I thought you’d like to see this:

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

Doesn’t look promising for much rain here in Catalina in March, however.  No rain in sight through the next 10 days at least.

Let’s check our 7 inches with what’s happening upwind, say, in CALIFORNIA, and see if there’s been any drought relief there, through February,  via the CNRFC:

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

As you are likely to know from many media stories last year, Cal was in a drought siege of five straight years,  with but got a little relief last year in the northern part thanks to help from  the giant Niño, one of the strongest ever.

Alas, it was one that failed to deliver as the big rain producer for the south half of Cal and the SW in general as was expected.

In case you’ve forgotten how bad things were in Cal, let us look back at what was being said, those horrific appearing drought maps,  and also how hopeful were were at the time  that the Big Niño would take a bit bite out of drought.  This is a really good article:

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

Then, when the Big Niño faded away like maple syrup on a stack of buckwheat pancakes last spring and summer,  we were surely doomed for more dry years.  And, for a time, the dreaded cold tongue of water in the eastern equatorial region, the so-called, La Niña, started to develop, which would be no help at all for  a good rain season like a Big Niño is, usually.

The Niña faded away, too, to nothing as the winter went on, so we really didn’t have much going on in the tropical Pacific to help us figure out what kind of winter rainfall regime we were going to have om 2016-17.  Not having anything going on meant winter rainfall could go either way, a difficult to figure out situation for season forecasters.

In retrospect it is pretty astounding how big a signal must have been out there SOMEWHERE that this winter was going to be one for the history books on the West Coast in general, and in particular, for Californians.  Californians saw their drought chewed up and spit out in a single winter, including snow packs so high the height of some mountain peaks have been revised.  (I’m kidding.)

No one saw such an astounding winter coming.

This winter sure makes one think of the QBO (Quasi-biennenial Oscillation, one up there in the Stratosphere where there’s almost no air (haha, well, practically none)…  Did the QBO have a role in this astounding winter;  was there a delay in the effects of the Big Niño even without a bunch of convection in the eastern Pac tropics?  Doesn’t seem that could be right…

But, William “Bill” Lau, U of Maryland scientist,  reported some statistical evidence of  such a lag way back in ’88 due to a QBO connection of some kind and ENSO, no physical cause could be discerned, however,  not yet,  anyway.  Lau, 1988, is reprised below for readers who want to go deep:

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

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

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

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

March 4th, afternoon. Hope you logged this; the rarely seen CIrrus castellanus (almost "congestus" in size) or, informally, "Cumulo-cirrus."
March 4th, afternoon. Hope you logged this; the rarely seen CIrrus castellanus (almost “congestus” in size) or, informally, “Cumulo-cirrus.”
Poppies are out, btw. Nice display on "Poppy Hils" just across and southwest of the Pima County Pistol Club, off Bowman.
Poppies are out, btw, in case you haven’t noticed. Nice display on “Poppy Hils” just across and southwest of the Pima County Pistol Club, off Bowman.
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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!