Category Archives: India

Seeing red

Well, here it is, the NOAA Catalina spaghetti output for March 8th, 5 PM AST, hold the sauce:

The 564 decameter contours over Catalina and environs on March 8th at 5 PM.
The 564 decameter height contours for 500 millibars over Catalina and environs (in the center) on March 8th at 5 PM. The yellow line is the 5 PM AST model prediction, and the gray pixel in the lower left corner is what’s left of the same contour (after I cut and pasted) yesterday’s 5 AM AST prediction. They were pretty much showing the same thing.

The plot at left, with likely a Guinness record for a long, thin caption, pretty much guarantees a big trough of cold air here by then, another door opens into winter, which seems to be gone right this moment, and, being March, you might be thinking, “la-dee-dah, no more winter here in southeast Arizona.”  But as I often point out to my reader, and while trying to be a bit delicate about it, “You’d be so WRONG! I can’t even describe how WRONG you would be!”  So keep that balloon-like parka ready, heck, there could even be some snowflakes with this.

And, of course, I am a be little disappointed, well, royally, because you should have seen this coming in the red dot-plot at left for Catalina on March 8th already, and I wouldn’t have to admonish you again.  Oh, well.

BTW, the “red dot” is a baseball term used to describe the appearance of a slider coming at the batter–there’s a red dot in the center of the ball caused by the spin and where most of the red lacings appear to be concentrated because the pitcher had to grip the ball a certain way.  Seen’em, at one time.  Of course, you wouldn’t remember the great pitchers like Lee Goldammer  of Canova, SD, or Dave Gassman; the latter amassing over 4,000 strikeouts in South Dakota summer baseball league play. It was a big story in the Mitchell Republic–they keep track of that stuff there (amazing and charming).  Lee Goldammer pitched a DOUBLE header and his team won the SD State Tournament  back in the late 1960s.   (All true!)  You see, Lee Goldammer struck me out on three pitches in 19721.  Man he was good!  I had hardly gotten to the plate, and I was walking back again!

Had a nice sunset a couple of days ago, some pretty Cirrus clouds again.  Where I’m from (Seattle), Cirrus and sunsets are generally obscured by Stratus, Stratocumulus, and every other kind of cloud imaginable so that you don’t see them often because those clouds extend for thousands of miles to the west where the sun is setting.

6:28 PM, February 27th, not last night.
6:28 PM, February 27th, not last night.


1I was working that summer for North American Weather Consultants as a “radar meteorologist” in Mitchell, SD, directing up to four cloud seeding aircraft around thunderstorms.  But when it wasn’t raining, I could play baseball for the Mitchell Commercial Bank team.  The project was under the aegis of the South Dakota School of Mines,  was statewide in 1972.  Unfortunately, for the people on the ground, one of the aircraft was seeding a storm in June of that year hat dropped 14 inches of rain in the Black Hills, and the ensuing flash flood took over 200 lives.   “Hey”, it wasn’t one of my aircraft.  Ours were in the other end of the State.

Cloud seeding was absolved in the disaster, which was correct;  the weather set up that day did it.   No puny aircraft releasing stuff could have had any effect whatsoever.  However, had that 14 inches filled a dry reservoir to the top and saved a city from a water famine, what would the seeding company have claimed in that case?

I know.   It happened when I worked a project in India, the water famine there making the cover of Time magazine in 1975.  The reservoirs in Madras (now, “Chennai”), India, where I was assigned by Atmospherics, Inc., as a “radar meteorologist” whose job again was to direct a seeding aircraft around storms, were at the bottom, just about nothing left, when I arrived on July 14th, 1975.

But on the third day I was there, July 16th, 1975, a colossal group of thunderstorms developed over the catchment area of the Madras reservoirs and, naturally,  our one twin-engined Cessna was up seeding it.  It was my job to see that we had a plane up around the thunderstorms.

Five to 10 inches fell in that complex of thunderstorms with tops over 50,000 feet, and there was a flow into the Madras reservoir (oh, really?) for the first time in the month of July in about 14 years.  July is normally a pretty dry month in the eastern part of India, with Madras averaging just over 4 inches, only a little more than we do here in Catalina in July.  The main rainy season in Madras is October and November, during the “northeast” monsoon.  This is what those giants looked like:

Looking west-northwest from the Madras Internation AP at Meenambakkam, India
Looking west-northwest from the Madras International AP at Meenambakkam, India, 1975.

But as a meteorologist, I saw that a low center had formed aloft over southern India, weakening the normally dry westerly flow of the “southwest monsoon” across southern India after it goes over the western Ghats.  This weakening  allowed the moist air of the Bay of Bengal to rush westward and collide with that drier westerly flow and set up a “convergence zone” where the two winds clashed and the air was forced upward forming huge, quasi-stationary Cumulonimbus clouds.

Below, what I look like when I am in India and starting to be skeptical about this whole thing, “Is this going to be another cloud seeding chapter like the one in the Colorado Rockies, to graze the subject of baseball again?”

First row, 2nd from left.  Our pilot sits next to me.
First row, 2nd from left. Our pilot sits next to me.

As before in Rapid City, the weather set up the deluge; no aircraft releases could have made the least difference in such powerful thunderstorms.  While the leader of the seeding project did not take credit for the odd flow into the reservoir that July, it was pointed out to the media, without further comment that, “yes, we were up seeding it.”

The odd storm with that comment, sans a description of the weather set up that did it, made it too obvious to the uninformed that seeding had done it.  The Indian met service was, of course, outraged, and did their best to “fill in the blanks”, but the sponsor of the project, the Tamil Nadu state government, was unconvinced because it was obvious to them what had happened, and, after all, it was what they paid for!

I had already been disillusioned while working as a forecaster for a big, randomized  cloud seeding project in Durango, Colorado by 1975, and this project was to add more “fuel to the reanalysis fire” that I was later to be known for.  (hahaha, “known for”;  I was despised in some quarters for checking their work after they had published it and it was being cited by big scientists, and I mean huge,  like the ones in the National Academies, but like you when you thought summer was here NOW and there would be no more cold weather, THEY were so WRONG!  I can’t even describe how WRONG those national academy scientists were,  like the ones in Malone et al 1974 in their “Climate and Weather Modification;  Progress and Problems” tome.) ((I knew they were wrong because they talked about clouds and weather associated with cloud seeding experiments in the Rockies, and I was seeing how at odds those clouds and weather was with the way it had been portrayed in the journal literature by the scientists who conducted the precursor experiments to the one I was working on in Durango.))  (((Wow, this is quite a footnote, if it is still one.)))  ((((Still worked up about that 1974 National Academy of Sciences report, but don’t get me going on the 2003 updated one, which they botched royally, including not even citing the work I did correctly!  How bad is that??????))))  As the title of today states, “seeing red.”

The reason for going to India in the first place was that it had been indicated in our peer-reviewed journals that randomized seeding in Florida, that clouds like ones in India,  had responded to cloud seeding.  Besides, I had an ovwerwhelming desire to see giant, tropical Cumulus and Cumulonimbus clouds up close!  BTW, the Florida results fizzled out in a second randomized phase.

End of footnote I think….

Arizona: the Emerald State

Now THAT was a monsoon-like day yesterday, one right out of the western state of Kerala, India; the thick rain of mid-morning, seemingly thicker than most here, the clothes-gripping humidity outside, the strip of fog on the side of the western Ghats, oops, Catalina Mountains, the relatively gentle breezes in the rain, the subdued green hues under the overcast of light rain at the end of the unusual morning drencher, aspects that, en toto,  made the morining seem so India-like to me (and I’ve been there in those Kerala rains).  Take a look at our green state and State.

10:37 AM, after 0.76 inches of thick rain with occasional thunder. Nimbostratus up top, Stratus fractus along the Samaniego Ridge.
10:53 AM. Looking toward Charoleau Gap.







In the Ghats, India, 1975,  in case you didn’t believe that I have been in ACTUAL monsoon rains.



And while the rest of the day was sunny, humid and cool for us, the rain wasn’t over with another thunderbludgeoning last night after 9 PM that brought 0.25 inches and the day’s Catalina rain total to 1.02 inches.  Drink up, desert!

Here are the rain reports from around Pima County.  Looks like the “Catalina” foothills has the 24 h total winner at 1.38 inches.  Here are other rain reports from around the State from the USGS.  One of these stations, Chrysotile,  NE of Globe, had 4.21 inches in the 24 h ending yesterday afternoon, also a total that is VERY Indian monsoon-like.

We also had a nice Altocumulus lenticularis at sunset, suggesting some wind aloft.  Seemed almost fall-like seeing this because they are more common with our winter troughs.


6:53 PM.

Another Big Day ahead

3 AM, Arizona obs. Several stations have dewpoints in the low 70s, with TUS reporting, along with light rain, a shockingly high dewpoint of 72 F, really extraordinary.

Get ready! A disturbance over southern California will help organize our storms into ones like those that occur in central Florida today, grouping them into large clusters, with some eye-popping rain amounts likely somewhere in the State (“eye-popping”, 3 plus inches).  Don’t be too surprised if you hear about a “tube” somewhere as well.  Tubes happen in conditions like these.

After today, its “mostly” dry through the end of September, with the best chance of rain on the 27th-28th.

The End.

Yesterday’s drama, forecasting for picnics, etc.

In case you missed it, and you probably did because you were still in bed while I was doing things for you, there was a pretty sunrise to start the day yesterday, one that would not disappoint later by being a dry one.  After all, we’re here in the peak of our summer rain season.


Got 0.27 inches here, and 0.40 inches in Sutherland Heights.  (The U of AZ rainfall network will have lots of data, some places getting over an inch yesterday. Pima County amounts here.)


BTW, as mind wanders, the real monsoon in India is a a little below normal this year so far.   But, check out these forecast maps from IPS Meteostar and look at the west coast of India.  It rains every day all day for the 15 days of the computer model run.  Nothing really too unusual about that, rain every day all day on the western Ghats, 10-20 inches a week. Now THAT is a monsoon!  Thought you might like a little distraction, get you out of any ruts you might be, get you thinking “outside the box” for a change.


OUR story, the long and winding one, continues below, though it can be seen in totality, in the short form in the U of A time lapse movie.  This is a great U of A movie, with several “dump trucks” going by.  Its amazing how much water can just suddenly be unloaded by a cloud!


Also, lenticular clouds (hover clouds) can be seen at the beginning and end of the movie downstream of the Cat Mountains, unusual for summer.
5:27 AM. Altocumulus opacus, no snow virga. What’s the top temperature? Hint: warmer than -10 C (14 F).
7:27 AM.  You’re finally up and you see this grayness due to Altocu/Stratocu.  You start to fret over whether it can rain later in the afternoon with all these clouds keeping the temperature down.
10:32 AM. Your mood begins to brighten just like the sky;  the temperature is soaring while the mid-level clouds thin, and Cumulus begin arising over Ms. Lemmon, trailing overhead toward YOU.  You feel special.
1:32 PM. You’ve been patient, and FINALLY the clouds trailing off Lemmon are beginning to look like they might erupt into Cumulonimbus ones;  bases are firming up, coalescing.
1:58 PM. Its looking really good. Nice compact bottom almost overhead. You’re getting euphoric, well, hopeful.
2:00 PM. Only TWO minutes later and the load is on the way down! This is the time you want to be at a picnic 2 minutes earlier and amaze people by saying, “RUN for your car! NOW!”, though they probably wouldn’t pay any attention to you unless you knew them and they knew you were cloudcentric.
2:02 PM. Picnic’s over.
2:03 PM. ONE minute later! The Fat Lady has sung.
2:19 PM. Downspout from Cumulonimbus cloud moves on across to Oro Valley to “excite” other picnickers.
2:22 PM. This beauty off to the north. Name? Cumulonimbus calvus (fibrous nature of top not yet fully evident, though a practiced eye can detected the cotton candy ice composition in the two pronged top. In front of it, a Cumulus congestus. Check that shaft!  What day! Fantastic scenes all around.






The weather ahead.

U of A mod results not yet available at this hour (5:08 AM), but other model outputs suggest another three days, including today, of the kinds of scenes shown above.
Every day will be that bit different in shower coverage, of course, that governed by subtleties in the flow aloft, grade of moisture supply, dewpoints, etc.

But those days ahead will be great enough, our deserts being drenched here and there, the desert foilage exploding.  Enjoy those clouds while they’re here.

The End.

Is it India? Or is it Catalina?

Let’s have a contest, get the brain going.

With dewpoints hovering near, and even eeking into the low 70s in AZ, with giant thunderstorms complexing our weather with sudden stupifying downpours, one wonders, after all of these blogs, this “body of work” if you will,  if the several people who comprise the Cloud-Maven blogpire, one that radiates from one part of Catalina to another,  would be able to know where they were if they could be transported to the locations in these two sets of four photos.   (BTW, all of which were taken by the present Arthur–hahahaha.)

OK, drum roll, insert photos here.

Two were taken at the Madras (now Chennai) International AP in Meenambakkam, Tamil Nadu, India, in September 1975, and the other two just yesterday afternoon in Catalina, where most of us live.  Remember, there are mountains in India, so just because you see some mountains doesn’t mean its NOT India.  Also, just because I mentioned two were taken in India first, doesn’t mean necessarily that they are the first two shots below.

OK, begin thinking and analyzing, maybe drink some more coffee.







OK, if you guessed the first two photos were actually taken in India during the REAL monsoon in 1975, you were right.  That’s a friend, Venkateswaran, on the far right of the first photo admiring the arcus cloud ahead of the downpour.

The result of our “pseudo-monsoon”,  which was a pretty good imitation of the real thing yestserday,  shown in the second set of two photos, was another 1-2 inches in the CDO watershed, 0.75 inches in here SE Catalina, 1.16 inches at Sutherland Heights, and a whopping 1.92 inches yesterday afternoon and Our Garden (Jesse, personal communication), keepers of the Catalina long term climo records.

What was the effect on the CDO River at the bottom of East WIlds Road?

It got huge.  Coulda rafted brown water.  Below are more shots of the CDO wash/river again for the second day in a row, ones after yesterday’s dump.  A young bystander (i.e., fellow gawker) said I had arrived after the peak!  Said the churning waves that developed every 20 min or so due to surges down the wash, were 8-10 feet high!  Here they were about half that, 4 feet or so from trough to ridge.  I wanted to “shop” a water buffalo in one of these photos so BAD!

Of course, this flood is “mild” compared to the Aug 25th, 2003 flow, which covered Lago del Oro road.

BTW, rainfall totals hereabouts are now up to or exceed the average July monthly amount of 3.xx inches.








The Weather Ahead

With high dewpoints once again today, 64 F here in Catalina, more large thunderstorms are pretty much in the bag, and importantly, this assertion is corroborated by calculating models, all that I looked at.  Here is the forecast rain picture for 4 PM today from the Beowulf Cluster at the University of AZ: 4 PM 20120715_WRF Precip (Flash Animation)  As you will see, WIDESPREAD rain is expected, with totals in the “best” cores getting up to 1-2 inches again.  Wow, three days in a row of major storms.

Things are supposed to dry out some tomorrow, but showers will still be around before a break of a couple or three days.

The End.