Cooling off now after the Big Review of NAS 2003…and finally getting back to the lighthearted, carefree, playful, well, silly, mode normally found here (he sez).
As a brief follow up, I have yet to receive a “thank you very much for your absurdly late review of our tome on cloud seeding; had you submitted it in a timely manner, perhaps one thing you wrote MIGHT have been considered” note from the National Academy of Sciences for all the work I put in on it. Must be pretty busy back there.
Also, if it didn’t go out “like a lion”, as foretold here weeks ago utilizing weather lore, March at least went out as something of a “bobcat” with the severe winds, series of cold fronts, we Catalinans experienced, along with several traces of rain. “In like a lamb, out like a bobcat.”
The weather way ahead
Spaghetti lovers will INSTANTLY recognize from those maps, of which ONE is shown for April 20th, that other than wind and “fluctuating temperatures” as dry cold fronts pass by, that there’s no chance of rain until the 20th. Check it out if you don’t believe me again:
I put up a new page on this blog (see top header for “pages”) for sciency types deeply interested in weather modification/cloud seeding, my main avocation “whilst” working in the met sector. Its a many “commented out” review of NAS03 (shorthand for the National Academy of Sciences tome, published in 2003, “Critical Issues in Weather Modification Research.” I also post it here for redundancy. This is what I have been doing lately instead of reporting to you on clouds and dust.
The original document as long, and with insertions and commentaries, well, now what’s here is over 170 pages. Only the weather mod technocrat among you will truly be interested. I found a couple of errors, and have done a little re-writing just now (April 4th).
Why this review is so late is explained, in fact, I tell “all” the good and the bad and delve into, oh, controversy. Its not in the usual style of this blog, of course, since its a highly technical review.
Some background, if you care
My first job in the cloud seeding domain was with North American Weather Consultants, Goleta, CA, one of the oldest cloud seeding companies in America. I was a student hire for the summer of 1968. I was coming off my Junior year at San Jose State. Robert D. Elliott was president and founder of NAWC, which he founded soon after Vincent Schaefer’s stunning dry ice experiments showed that you could cause snow to fall out of supercooled droplet clouds when you converted them to ice crystals. That precip-forming process is known as the Wegner-Bergeron-Findeisen process.
The remarkable event of that summer was that “Bob’s” friend, Tor Bergeron, (of the Wegner-Bergeron-Findeisen mechanism of rain formation) came one day to visit Bob and I got a photo taken with him! In case you would like to see me with one of the “Fathers of Rain”, Tor Bergeron , or Tor himself, here it is ( I laugh when I look at this; can pants be any tighter?):
I loved that job and the people there! Cloud seeding was so interesting, too! And I already about 20 years into my cloud-centric life, had chased thunderstorms in the southern Cal and Arizona deserts, and a hurricane in 1961, Carla, by then. I knew what ice was in the sky.
Things kinda went downhill for me in the cloud seeding arena not too long after that when I joined, as my first job out of college, the Colorado River Basin Pilot Project, a massive randomized cloud seeding experiment that was going to replicate stunning cloud seeding successes published by scientists at Colorado State University. Winter snowfall in the Rockies had been increased in certain situations by 50-100% in their own randomized experiments! And the CRBPP was going to target those situations in the random decisions.
I started out as Assistant Project Forecaster in the fall of 1970, and then after some early personnel shuffling, was booted up to “Acting Project Forecaster”, forecasting the weather EVERY day, and calling all the random decisions that first season! There was no “Assistant Forecaster” any longer. I loved it! Couldn’t wait to get to work!
If you don’t believe me that I forecast the weather for random draws in the massive Colorado River Basin Pilot Project cloud seeding experiment right out of college, then you’ll have to see this “documovie” in which I make a forecast, filmed in the late winter of 1971, and one that premiered in Durango, CO, in 1972 (not ’81 as this youtube site claims)1:
It was SO EXCITING being a part of this grand project! And who wouldn’t love Durango, Colorado?
But, it turned out that there were lots of problems with the Colorado experimenters hypotheses, and those problems weren’t getting outside of the BuRec and our group. The wider weather modification community, which so highly regarded the experimenters’ experiments so highly, remained ignorant of those problems.
Well, during the five years I worked on that project, moved back to “Assistant Project Forecaster” when the second one, Owen Rhea, left after one season and a new Project Manager brought in his own forecaster.
It was later in those five years in Durango with the CRBPP that I abandoned my original Master’s Thesis at San Jose State on southern Cal rainfall trends, and took on reanalyses of cloud seeding experiments, something that was to go on for the next 35 years or so as “non-funded work”; weekends, and evenings, mornings before the regular work day at the U of WA. I was even drafting my own figures in the manuscripts I produced!
I was consumed, as I have been lately, by the lack of reporting, and even false claims in a journal article relative to our CRBPP project in those Durango days, by authors who knew better. It was truly melodramatic, but I felt someone had to do something about this!
As a cloud watcher, one of the very main things missing from the experimenters’ claims, was the presence, for hours at a time, of thick, non-precipitating clouds, ripe for seeding, with tops > -23°C, very cold ones. Instead, the clouds impacting Durango and the surrounding mountains were full of ice, as any cloud watcher could see. There was no such cloud as the experimenters had inferred via statistical analyses.
Cloud seeding they wrote, had not INCREASED the intensity of snowfall in their experiments they reported, but must have made it fall from clouds that did snow naturally until seeded. The only evidence they had for the existence of such clouds was that it had snowed longer on seeded days than on control days.
Not only that, seeding had made them snow at exactly the same rate as natural snowfall. It was a huge red flag for a storm bias in their experiments, a “lucky draw” or “Type I Statistical Error” for the seeded days.
And that’s what had really happened, among many other pitfalls, as you will read in the linked “review” above.
In conclusion: you can do a lot over a LONG period when you’re worked up about something!
——————————– 1Yes, it was a cloud seeding experiment so important, so much optimism around, it had its own movie! And it had a score by local guitar master, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown!
On this station plot map for the Tucson area, generated by the University of Arizona’s Hydro and Atmospheric Sciences Department, now has a point for little Catalina/Sutherland Heights! Check it out. Sample map below. Now you can see how our predicted weather varies with those points around us over the next few days. How great is that?Some rain from our incoming cold front is just about here as a line of showers approaches from the west. Hoping now for a tenth of an inch is all.
Had some nice scenes late of little Altocumulus castellanus shedding light snow showers or “virga.”
The weather ahead and way ahead
March. a lamb upon entry, will roar on the way out. While only a little rain will likely fall today, several more troughs are in the works, during the next ten days and they are looking much more potent than today’s trough and front passage, probably bringing cold enough air that some people will start complaining about how cold it is; probably me. Looks, too, like abnormally cool weather will cruise right in to the first week or two of April. Bye-bye heat!
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.)
The title represents one of the great forecasting lores of our time, developed over centuries, really, that will once again verify. BTW, this particular lore has a “skill score” up around 0.9011. Its unbelievable, really. If March “roars in like a lion” count on the opposite at the end of the month. Many of you will harken back to March ’83….as an opposite example if what’s a ahead for us this time around.
So, since March 2017 started out tranquil (docile, like a lamb) and a little too warm, “out like a lion” means not just cooler, but even cold, windy, turbulent, unsettled days, rain here and there in Catalina, snow in Catalina Mountains; in other words, a lot of weather fun! And, all this happening a time or three during the last ten days of the March as the month rolls to an end.
Count on it2.
Next report: when rain threatens here in March. Well, maybe sooner.
1Perfect predictability would be 1.00
2The exact days of rain, wind and cold are still pretty uncertain, but they will roar in. You can’t expect “lore” to nail down the days!
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.
That’s why you come here, to answer important questions like that. After all, those precipitating clouds could have been Nimbostratus, Stratocumulus opacus praecipitatio, Cumulonimbus capillatus incus flammagenitus, or even just “plain” Cumulonimbus capillatus (no anvil), and possibly, Stratus opacus nebulosos praecipitatio.
Of course, with no large fires around, we can at once rule out Cumulonimbus capillatus incus flammagenitus….(the new name for clouds on top of fires, formerly referred to by the more accessible terms, “pyrocumulus” or “pyrocumulonimbus.”
For the curious, and since I broke my camera and don’t have the dozens upon dozens of photos to regale or bore you with, I will reach into the archives for a shot of “flammagenitus” and show you one from the pyromaniacs’ paradise, Brazil!:
Now, on to more recently viewed clouds, like yesterday’s:
Later these scenes were overtaken by a slab of Nimbostratus and steady light rain for a few hours.
A note on the recent southern Cal rain blast
As you know, up ten inches fell in some mountain locations in southern California as a monster low pressure system smashed into the coast near San Francisco1. You might recall, too, that the shift of the jet stream (and thus storm track) into the southern portions of California was well predicted two weeks in advance in those crazy spaghetti plots. You can’t always get much out of those plots except maybe the degree of uncertainty in weather patterns a couple of weeks out, but that was a rare case in which the signal far upstream for something strong barging into southern Cal also strong. And, of course, we are experiencing the residual of that storm, also as was indicated in those plots (“…the weather change around the 18th.”
Presently, a another sequence of extremely heavy rain is in the pipeline for central and northern California starting today, which will take a few days for it to come to an end.
Following a break, what was intriguing in the model outputs, and a little scary was that it appeared that yet another scoop of tropical air was going to jet across the Pacific under another blocking high in the Arctic and Gulf of Alaska into California. Take a look at this prog:
Here’s where spaghetti can shed some real light:
So while it is still possible that some model runs will indicate a blast from the sub-tropics affecting Cal, they can be pretty much waived off as outliers (not impossible “solutions” but rather unlikely ones. Breath easier Califs! At least after the current onslaught ends.
BTW, can you see what kind of weather is indicated in this plot for the SW and old Arizony?
Cold; temperatures below normal, precip likely at times.
——————————– 1The low pressure center that passed over San Francisco yesterday was not as deep (988 millibars) as the notorious “Frankenstormmaggedon” of 2010 which barged into Frisco with a 979 millibar center. You may recall, too, that spaghetti had strongly suggested a “Frankenstormaggedon”, as it was later called, also more than ten days in advance. Recall, too, if you can recall, that 2009-10 was an El Niño winter with this kind of thing pretty much anticipated.
For history buffs, I reprise that January 2010 storm as seen on our national weather map. You may recall that, if there’s anything left in that noggin up there, that Catalina experience no less than THREE inches of rain as this system went by, taking a couple of days: