“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!:
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.
Former Hurricane ‘Newt’ brought some real humidity, low clouds with unusually warm bases (around 15-20 ° C) to Tucson and Catalina yesterday as its remnant center passed just about over us.
Old Newt was “dragging” here as a tropical storm, aloft it was pretty strong still, brought near hurricane force winds on isolated, high, mountain tops. Mt. Hopkins reached 59 kts from the ESE before the “eye” passed nearby and the winds turned to the west. And in the Rincon Mountains a gigantic 6.39 inches was logged, and a site on Mt. Graham reported 6.43 inches. (Thanks to Mark Albright for these reports.)
While Sutherland Heights received only 0.29 inches in that all day rain, there were eye-popping totals in the Catalinas. Take a look at some of these, Dan Saddle near Oracle Ridge, nearing 6 inches in 24 h! Below, 24 h totals ending at 2 AM this morning, which pretty much covers Newt:
Horseshoe Bend Rd in Saddlebrooke
Oracle Ranger Stati
approximately 0.5 mi SW of Oracle
Edwin Rd 1.3 mi E of Lago Del Oro Parkway
approximately 1.5 mi W of Charouleau Gap
approximately 1.1 mi NE of Charouleau Gap
NE corner of Catalina State Park
CDO @ Rancho Solano
Cañada Del Oro Wash NE of Saddlebrooke
CDO @ Golder Rd
Cañada Del Oro Wash at Golder Ranch Rd
Oracle Ridge, approximately 1.5 mi N of Rice Peak
CDO @ Coronado Camp
Cañada Del Oro Wash 0.3 mi S of Coronado Camp
Samaniego Peak on Samaniego Ridge
Dan Saddle on Oracle Ridge
Catalina Hwy 0.8 mi W of Palisade Ranger Station
Sabino Creek 0.6 mi SSE of Marshall Gulch
Your cloud day yesterday; we don’t talk about today. That’s for tomorrow.
The day began with one of the great examples of Nimbostratus, that technically a middle -level cloud greeted us at daybreak in what was one of the great examples of the phantom cloud, the true precipitator, usually hidden from view by lower clouds such as Stratocumulus. But, yesterday morning, there it was, “Ns” naked as could be. I know many of you have been looking for a good shot of Nimbostratus to add to your cloud collection for a long time and I could feel the joy out there when I saw it myself. I only took a couple of shots myself, wish now I had taken more of an extraordinary scene.
Then, as the light rain here moistened the air hour after hour, low clouds, such as Stratocumulus and Stratus fractus began to form along the mountains, producing some interesting “tracers” of the chaotic air movement over there by the Catalinas under nearly calm conditions. Newt disappointed in his wind accompaniment.
Later in the day, as the highest, coldest cloud tops associated with those beautiful Nimbostatus clouds moved off to the NE, and our cloudscape became a mix of deeper Stratocumulus with Cumulus and isolated Cumulonimbus cells, they produced true drizzle and misty, visibility-reducing “warm rain”, that rare type of rain that falls here from clouds lacking in ice, began to be observed producing Hawaiian looking rain on our mountains, delicate shafts of rain whose small drops slanted away from the base.
Here, you might well erupt with, “This doesn’t look like Hawaii, but Ocean Shores, Washington, or some other coastal location along the West Coast on a spring day having Stratocumulus with drizzle!”
You would be correct in that eruption.
Below, an example of drizzle drops on your car’s windshield:
Later, it was to look little more “Hawaiian”, but if you’ve been to Hilo, you know its mostly cloudy all day.
“Warm rain” or rain due to the colllision-coalescence process, is also mainly associated with “clean” conditions, ones low in aerosol particles that can act as cloud condensation nuclei. The fewer the “CCN” the fewer are the droplets in clouds, and the larger the individual cloud droplets are when saturation and cloud formation occur. So, by yesterday afternoon, certainly, it was doggone clean here, no doubt aided by washout in that light rain we had.
Particularly heavy rain with low visibility fell just south of Catalina yesterday afternoon around Ina and Oracle just after 4 pm. However, that rain did not have those HUGE drops that we see from unloading, deep, Cumulonimbus clouds making this observer think as heavy as it was, it may have been due to a Cumulonimbus topping out at less than 20,000 feet, where the temperature would have been too warm for ice. The 500 mb temperature yesterday was a tropical-like -3.7° C on the TUS sounding, almost unheard of with a rain situation here. This, another sign of tropical Newt, since tropical storms/hurricanes have warm cores.
lacking in those huge drops we see in our thunderstorms, this rain likely formed from the “warm rain” process except maybe in the very heaviest rain areas. It was a special day.
You probably noticed how quiet it was; no thunder around, for one thing, indicating the updrafts in the clouds were not very strong, and that was another indicator that the clouds may not have contained ice. Without ice, hail and graupel, soft hail, you don’t have lightning.
The lack of lighting, the all day off and on rain, such as you might experience at Hilo, Hawaii, on the windward side, made it seem like you were in Hilo, Hawaii, or one of the other wet spots on the windward side of the Island.
Some rain fell about this time in Catalina. Not enough to darken the pavement completely at any time. The main thing to take away from that hour of very light rain is that it was not “drizzle” as even some errant meteorologists call such sprinkles.
You will be permanently banned from attending any future meetings of the cloud maven club if you refer to such rain as we had yesterday afternoon as “drizzle.” Drizzle is fine (200-500 micron in diameter drops that are very close together and practically float in the air. Because they fall so slowly, and are so small to begin with, you can’t have drizzle at the ground from clouds that are much more than a 1000 feet or so above the ground because as soon as they pop out the bottom, those drops start evaporating and fall slower and slower by the second, and in no time they can be gone even in moist conditions. That’ s why its somewhat hilarious and sad at the same time, when, in particular, military sites for some unknown reason, report ersatz “drizzle: (coded as L, or L-) in our hourly aviation reports from clouds that are based at 5000 feet or something CRAZY like that.
This band of Nimbostratus/Altostratus had a backside that approached as the sun went down, and as you know, that clearing let some sunlight enrich and dramatize the views of our beloved Catalina Mountains:
The amazing rains ahead
Nothing that you don’t already know about, so no use me blabbing about it too much. But in case you haven’t seen it, The Return of Joe Low (after over-hydrating over the warm waters of the eastern Pacific), is expected over the next couple of days, with a little help from another disturbance, to bring colossal rains to eastern Arizona and especially New Mexico.
Below, from our friendly U of A Wildcat Weather Department a model run from yesterday’s 5 PM global data (the Wildcat’s downsize the US WRF-GFS model in this awesome depiction).
Check out the totals expected by the evening of October 23 rd. Stupendous. Usually these totals are a bit overdone, but even so…… Will take a nice bite out of drought.
For the second time this month, cloud-centric folk had a rare and happy sight: “naked” Nimbostratus, that is, the well-known mid-level1 precipitating cloud layer was present for all to see, but without the obscuring lower cloud decks normally associated with it, clouds like Stratocumulus or Stratus. Time and time again those pesky lower layers prevent one from seeing whose really producing the rain or snow at the ground because when precip is falling, its normally moist enough that lower clouds are present.
Those lower layers are important in enhancing precip because while they aren’t precipitating themselves (though it may seem like it) the drops falling into them from the Nimbostratus higher up, 1) won’t evaporate inside the cloud, and 2), if the droplets in the Stratocu are large enough, some of them will be collected by the raindrop falling through it and it becomes larger, the rain that bit heavier! How great is that?
Its really hard to compare how rare yesterday’s sight of “naked” Nimbostratus was yesterday, but offhand, I would say its about as rare as a professional wildlife photographer2 catching a shot of Cockrum’s Gray Shrew, aka, the “Hairy Packrat” or just “Harry Packrat”, shown below:
Oh, yeah, that Nimbostratus layer sans lower clouds….
Except for the rarity of the view, not much to see. The bottom is blurred by falling precip, and when its snow, where that snow melts into rain is perceived as the base of Nimbostratus. So…….in the warmer time of the year, “naked” Nimbostratus has a higher perceived “base” than in the cooler time of the year.
There was also another unusual situation, a cloud layer that really has no good name which I will now call from here on, “Cumulostratus.” See below:
While on the first day, January 29th, the sun was only blocked by mid-level clouds, the rainy ones on January 30th and 31st provided a rain amount to remember here in the Sutherland Heights (and elsewhere–numerous records broken), 2.28 inches recorded over 24 h ending at 7 AM for the past three days, beginning with the 30th:
0.19, 1.56, and 0.53 inches, ending this morning.
Weeds and wildflowers really happy, as will be free range cattle and horses that get out of their pens in the days and weeks ahead.
We have an interesting experiment in progress, one we didn’t know we were going to have re wildflowers this spring.
A local wildflower expert on a public TEEVEE station here was quoted as saying that NOVEMBER rain was critical to wildflower displays. Hmmm. OK, but we had a RAINLESS NOVEMBER here!
So, no wildflowers? A limited display? Some key ones don’t come up at all because November was rainless, while October, December and now January had generous rains?
I don’t think so. My take is that everything will be hunky dory. HELL, no one will be able to tell that November was rainless in our upcoming wildflower displays.
But the reader must be advised royally in this editorial side bar, that the writer is a cloud-maven, not a flower-maven as was expert quoted on public TEEVEE.
So, let the experiment unfold before our very eyes! A chance for all to learn things! Ans, how fun is that?
———————–end of experimental module——————
Too, I wonder how often three sunless days have occurred in southern Arizona? Was probably a rare event that these past three days mimicked Seattle or other Pac NW sites west of the Cascade Mountains in winter so well.
BTW, in an important climate note concerning the Pacific Northwest, it rains more in Eugene, OR, aka Duckville, more than in Seattle, in case you’re a football player and are deciding between the Washington Huskies and the Oregon Donald Ducks prior to the upcoming LOI Day, the National Holiday celebrating when high school kids sign Letters of Intent about where they are going to play college football.
And, continuing a high school theme, don’t forget to watch football today; the Seattle Seahawks, who live right next door to the University of Washington Huskies, will be playing in a big game, so maybe you could get some valuable autographs while playing for the Huskies…. Just a thought.
Back to yesterday……
I think the most surprising part was how nearly stationary rain echoes kept giving all day yesterday. So often, where clouds are almost stationary, they just rain out and thin. But it just kept coming, at least here in Catalina. And, as the storm came to a close, the expected sight of a frosty Lemmon appeared late in the day due to the gradually lowering snow level as the clouds suddenly lifted when a dry north wind rushed in. Should be more of that dry north wind today.
No rain in sight now…. Corrals can dry out, which would be good.
BTW, by later yesterday the local washes were running reel good. In case you missed the flows, here are some floody scenes:
Hiked out to the Sutherland Wash yesterday, arriving about 3 PM to take these docuphotos for you. These were taken near the horse crossing that leads to the “Rusty Gate” and the Coronado National Forest boundary on the east side of the Wash.
Had not seen the Sutherland Wash this big before, in person. Was much higher, though, during the September 8, 2014 event, as deduced from debris piles, when 4-5 inches fell in 3 h.
It was pretty much the same one all day I think. We begin our cloud soliloquy with an unusual sighting of pure Stratus, present before the rain moved in again.
You may wish to pleasure yourself with another and very unusual occurrence of fog right now (7:02 AM) coming out of Tucson, heading toward Marana, south Oro Valley. Very pretty scene this miniute. Heading out now to capture on film.
1) The quarter inch predicted/hoped for here fell on Borrego Springs, CA, (0.27 inches) instead. So, it was pretty close. We received a measly trace in the past 24 until we got 0.05 inches just now! Barely made the 0.05 inches, thought to be the least that could fall. So, in humility, will be expanding limits of storms, maybe go with 0-5 inches possible amounts for every next storm. Should hit those.
2) Mods still think more rain is ahead over the next few days, beginning on Thursday. This period of rain has always been predicted to be more than yesterday anyway.
3) As an outstanding weather note for my reader, I thought I would post this photo from a friend in Seattle of the exceptionally warm weather for this time of year they had yesterday in Seattle (60s). A young1 woman at Green Lake in Seattle displays how warm it is by dawning a bikini, near where the present writer used to live. “Smells like global warming”, as Seattle’s own Kurt Cobain1 might have said about yesterday, if he wasn’t dead.
While there have been studies about cherry blossoms and that kind of thing coming out earlier in the spring back East of late, maybe there should be one about bikinis coming out earlier, too. How many weeks earlier in spring than during the Little Ice Age, do we see bikinis nowadays? How long has the bikini season been lengthened? Is it commensurate with lengthening of the growing season? That would be a VERY interesting scientific question to address, one that needs to be fully addressed via graphs and photo documentation. Applying for NSF global warming grant monies now…..
That’s it. No more photos, no rain last night, either, but in some kind of rain miracle, it has just put 0.05 inches in the gauge! So, the forecast from this typewriter that 0.05 inches was the least that could occur in this “storm” has been verified!
Conditions not ripe for much more, though a few light showers are still upwind. Clouds oughta thin as the morning goes along, with huge breaks in the clouds this afternoon.
Mods suggest more rain beginning as early as Thursday night. This one has more potential for rain here, somewhere between 0 and 5 inches, i. e., only a 10% chance of less than zero; less than 10% chance of more than 5 inches. There, that should do it….
From yesterday’s 18 Z, or 11 AM AST WRF-GFS model, this behemoth. Seems to be reaching up to grab something! Millions of square miles affected! This is the SAME giant storm you saw predicted in an earlier prog and displayed here yesterday from the prior evening’s run, just more ominous-looking here in the run some 18 h later. Will it happen? Comes and goes in the mod runs, but “spaghetti” hedges it to happen, at least some rain.
In the meantime, we received 0.09 inches here in Catalina/Sutherland Heights last evening, another shot of rain, with more little systems like that one predicted to affect us during the coming week. If you were watching, you saw that you could see blue sky on the NW horizon while it rained steadily, most of the day to our S. Go here to get the Pima County ALERT totals, the greatest about a quarter to a third of an inch.
Cloud bases were pretty high all day, around 11,000 feet above sea level (8,000 to 9,000 feet above ground level). Some boring photos:
Yesterday’s cold front packed a few more rain “calories” than expected…. Kind of wrecked my play on beer in yesterday’s blog title as a way of making fun of it, you know, “Front light”. See rain amounts below.
But before that, a heads up: 1) More rain on way next week, at least a 100% chance of measurable rain during the week, and more storms after that (people will be complaining before long);
2) there are some pretty cloud photos at the very bottom in case you’d like to skip over a lotta verbiage; quite dull writing, hand-waving, that kind of thing about what happened yesterday.
The official totals are pretty amazing, too, considering our best model was predicting something like 0.01 to 0.10 inches here in Catalina just before the rain started1. Note below the 2.20 inches at Mt. Lemmon. BTW, we’re now just about at our average rainfall total for December here in Catalina of 1.86 inches and we’ve gotten 1.85 inches so far.
Here’s a truncated rain table for our area from the Pima ALERT gauges (its a rolling archive and so you’d better get there early if you want to see the full lineup of totals for yesterday’s storm):
Pima County Regional Flood Control District ALERT System: Precipitation Report Precipitation Report for the following time periods ending at: 04:14:00 12/14/14 (data updated every 15 minutes) Data is preliminary and unedited. —- indicates missing data Gauge 15 1 3 6 24 Name Location ID# minutes hour hours hours hours —- —- —- —- —- —- —————– ——————— Catalina Area 1010 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.51 Golder Ranch Horseshoe Bend Rd in Saddlebrooke 1020 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.55 Oracle Ranger Stati approximately 0.5 mi SW of Oracle 1040 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.63 Dodge Tank Edwin Rd 1.3 mi E of Lago Del Oro Parkway 1050 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.55 Cherry Spring approximately 1.5 mi W of Charouleau Gap 1060 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.75 Pig Spring approximately 1.1 mi NE of Charouleau Gap 1070 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.67 Cargodera Canyon NE corner of Catalina State Park 1080 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.59 CDO @ Rancho Solano Cañada Del Oro Wash NE of Saddlebrooke 1100 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.43 CDO @ Golder Rd Cañada Del Oro Wash at Golder Ranch Rd
Santa Catalina Mountains 1030 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.47 Oracle Ridge Oracle Ridge, approximately 1.5 mi N of Rice Peak 1090 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 2.20 Mt. Lemmon Mount Lemmon 1110 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.55 CDO @ Coronado Camp Cañada Del Oro Wash 0.3 mi S of Coronado Camp 1130 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.79 Samaniego Peak Samaniego Peak on Samaniego Ridge 1140 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.71 Dan Saddle Dan Saddle on Oracle Ridge 2150 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.34 White Tail Catalina Hwy 0.8 mi W of Palisade Ranger Station 2280 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.59 Green Mountain Green Mountain 2290 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.98 Marshall Gulch Sabino Creek 0.6 mi SSE of Marshall Gulch
Hell, there wasn’t any rain in the cloud band west of us when I got up, and so I thought with some lifting, and that jet core at 500 mb slipping southward from southern Cal as the day went on, rain would develop farther south in the frontal cloud band. It did, of course, but still thought it would blow through in 2 h or so, something akin to the models as well. The rain fell for about 5 and half hours! The clearing took place a little before sunset, not in the early afternoon as expected.
So what happened?
I think you and I overlooked a disturbance aloft behind the frontal band. It was sliding SEwd fast from Nevada, catching up to our little frontal band. When those things happen, clouds magically seem to be appearing on the backside of the frontal band, fattening it up, holding its progress back; and the rain areas get bigger. The frontal band was MUCH fatter when it went by TUS than it had been just a 100 or so miles to the west at 4 AM AST yesterday morning. Here are contrasting satellite and radar images for two periods yesterday, before the band fattened up and the second, when it was raining so much here:
If you’re a true C-M disciple you noticed something else yesterday: true DRIZZLE in the rain. Drizzle may be even more rare than snow here. And the thick low visibility rain consisting of smallish drops from drizzle sizes, 200-500 microns (a couple to a few human hairs in diameter) and raindrops just above those sizes for much of the time the rain fell, should have made you start thinking of a warm rain process day. Maybe there was no bright band in the radar imagery during those times, something that happens when rain is ONLY formed by colliding drops that get big enough to fall out; no ice nowhere. In the heavier rains, sometimes when visibility was improved, ice was very likely involved.
The TUS sounding really can’t shed light on this question since the morning was had shallow clouds that weren’t raining yet, tops barely below freezing, and the 5 PM AST sounding, with tops at -10 C (14 F), was a little too late, though that layer that was sampled did produce what appeared to be ice virga in the direction of TUS about the time of the sounding. BTW, its well known that “warm” rain processes that don’t involve ice occur at temperatures below freezing, so the expression is a bit of an oxymoron.
So, without radar imagery over us during the time of the thick rain and drizzle, we can’t say for sure, but it sure looked like it to C-M, which is what you should think as well I think. Thanks in advance for thinking what I think.
Enough of my excuses2, let’s rock and roll with yesterday’s clouds
Your cloud day
The best scenes of all were when the clouds began to part in the late afternoon and evening sun. I hope you caught these beautiful scenes:
—————————————————– 1Total rain prediction from our best model, the one from the U of AZ with the predicted totals through 3 PM AST yesterday. The model run was at 11 PM AST the evening just before the rain began:
2Your Catalina C-M did have a correct range of amounts that could fall in yesterday’s storm right up until the last minute. For weeks he was predicting, and staying firm with, 0.15 inches on the bottom, and a voluptuous, if that’s the right word, 0.80 inches potential on the top.
Looked for a time that the rain might be over by mid-afternoon and early evening here in Catalina with only a disappointing 0.40 inches here, but the rains kept coming overnight, piling up a nice 0.98 inches 24 h total for the storm. In the meantime, Ms. Mt. Lemmon has gotten 4.29 inches! Check out these eye-popping totals from the Pima County network, ending at 7 AM AST today (just updated. These are so great in view of last October’s trace of rain:
Gauge 15 1 3 6 24 Name Location
ID# minutes hour hours hours hours
—- —- —- —- —- —- —————– ———————
1010 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.24 0.71 Golder Ranch Horseshoe Bend Rd in Saddlebrooke
1020 0.00 0.04 0.04 0.28 1.06 Oracle Ranger Stati approximately 0.5 mi SW of Oracle
1040 0.00 0.08 0.12 0.43 0.94 Dodge Tank Edwin Rd 1.3 mi E of Lago Del Oro Parkway
1050 0.00 0.16 0.20 0.67 1.26 Cherry Spring approximately 1.5 mi W of Charouleau Gap
1060 0.04 0.16 0.20 0.83 1.93 Pig Spring approximately 1.1 mi NE of Charouleau Gap
1070 0.00 0.08 0.20 0.59 1.14 Cargodera Canyon NE corner of Catalina State Park
1080 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.31 0.91 CDO @ Rancho Solano Cañada Del Oro Wash NE of Saddlebrooke
1100 0.00 0.12 0.28 0.55 1.06 CDO @ Golder Rd Cañada Del Oro Wash at Golder Ranch Rd
Santa Catalina Mountains
1030 0.00 0.04 0.08 0.55 1.57 Oracle Ridge Oracle Ridge, approximately 1.5 mi N of Rice Peak
1090 0.08 0.31 0.67 1.42 4.96 Mt. Lemmon Mount Lemmon
1110 0.04 0.12 0.12 0.71 1.61 CDO @ Coronado Camp Cañada Del Oro Wash 0.3 mi S of Coronado Camp
1130 0.00 0.24 0.47 1.89 3.46 Samaniego Peak Samaniego Peak on Samaniego Ridge
1140 0.04 0.12 0.24 0.39 1.73 Dan Saddle Dan Saddle on Oracle Ridge
2150 0.08 0.12 0.28 1.14 3.50 White Tail Catalina Hwy 0.8 mi W of Palisade Ranger Station
2280 0.00 0.04 0.12 0.31 1.93 Green Mountain Green Mountain
2290 0.04 0.08 0.20 0.75 2.40 Marshall Gulch Sabino Creek 0.6 mi SSE of Marshall Gulch
Misty drizzle with very low visibilities is still falling here in Sutherland Heights, Catalina, at 3 AM. The Catalina Mountains are not visible from just a couple of miles away. This suggests the clouds overhead are now “clean and shallow” and rain is forming via collisions of cloud drops with coalescence rather than because of ice in the overhead clouds, often called “warm rain,” a rare occurrence in Arizona. You’ll definitely want to log this in your cloud diary!
“Clean” means that the clouds have low droplet concentrations, viz., are not choked with anthro and natural “continental” aerosols but are more “maritime”, almost oceanic in composition, something that easily leads to “warm rain/drizzle” formation. In oceanic clouds far from pollution sources droplet concenrations usually are less than 100 cm-3. They average about 60 cm-3 in Cumulus clouds in onshore flow along the Washington coast, as an example. Cloud appearance should look a little different to the discerning eye, too. With low droplet concentrations, the clouds appear “softer” than usual, not a hard.
Normally, our clouds likely have a few hundred per cm-3 or more and appear darker from below since higher droplet concentrations is also associated with bouncing more sunlight off the top of the cloud1.
With vort max (aka, curly, or curling, air) still well to the west of us at this time (3 AM AST) as seen here. This sat imagery also shows plenty of shallow clouds upwind of us, so it seems like the very light rain and drizzle will continue well into the morning, likely adding a few more hundredths to our generous totals. Remember that the air likes to slide upward as curly air approaches, that is, produce a lot clouds, and today, a last bit of precip. Did pretty good last night, too!
Honestly, you really want to get out and experience our misty, drizzly rain (drop sizes mostly between 200 and 500 microns in diameter; a few human hair widths), before it ends; the kind of precipitation that makes riding a bicycle even with a big hat impossible. You might even try the near impossible trick of photographing the drizzle drops, too, as they land in puddles, see if you can catch the tiny disturbance made by drizzle drops. That would be great photo! I know, too, that experiencing real drizzle will give you a bit of a chuckle as you think of all those less informed folks, some of whom are even on TEEVEE, who call a sparse fall of raindrops, “drizzle.” Oh, my, WHAT has happened to our weather education?!
Lots of gray cloud scenery yesterday, including a stunning example of Nimbostratus (Ns), the steady rainmaker (at least here we had that, anyway.) In other places, Cumulonimbus clouds were also contained within that rainy cloud mass and dumping an inch or so in an hour in TUS with LTG (weather text for “lightning2“), as you likely know. Didn’t hear thunder here, but coulda happened since I was off to the new Whole Foods market at Ina and Oracle as the steady rain from Ns moved in it because it said online that they had Brother Bru Bru’s African Hot Sauce which I had been looking for for a long time but when I got there they didn’t have it! The grocery manager apologized profusely and then we started talking about haloes and the ice crystals that cause them. So, you never know when your cloud mavenhood will come in handy in everyday conversations, maybe make that friend you’ve been looking for:
The weather way ahead
Dry for almost two weeks. However, a crazy NOAA spaghetti factory plot suggests rain in about two weeks, around the 23-25th, as you can plainly see here:
The End. Its really amazing how much information I have passed along today! Most of it correct, too!
cCoCoRahs gauge, not Davis tipping bucket which seems to have a problem of late.
1This is the concept behind kooky schemes to defeat potential global warming which hasn’t happened for 18 years or so by polluting oceanic clouds, making them “brighter” on top, darker on the bottom by inserting extra aerosols into them. Ghastly thought! Haven’t we polluted enough?
2Recall that weathermen and women were WAY out in front when it came to what we now call “texting”, as in “2KOLD4me” that kind of thing.
Let me give you an example from the 50s when we were rocking around the clock: “M8BKN15OVC2R-F68/661713G24989 R-OCNLY R”, a text phrase that would take a paragraph to unravel, to paraphrase language maven, Noam C3,4., except in those days we had our own private symbols which I can’t duplicate for “BKN” (a circle with two vertical parallel lines in it) and “OVC” (a circle with a plus sign in it). Weather typewriters and teletypes came with those private symbols!
3Wow, a footnote in a bunch of footnotes! Breaking ground again I think! What Noam C. said: “takes a phrase to tell a lie; a paragraph to unravel it.”
4Factoid, one not having to do with weather: Language maven, NC, really liked Pol Pot and his “restructuring” of society back then until he learned about all the millions of skulls were piling up along with that “restructuring.” You can hear about Pol Pot (and hypocrisy) here in Holiday in Cambodia, one of the defining songs of the 1980s IMO, as interpreted by The Dead Kennedys featuring lead singer, Jello Biafra. (You remember Jello don’t you? Ran for president a while back. Kind of surprised we didn’t elect him…)
Old Man O is kind of a mess now. Still hoping for half an inch here in Catalina/Sutherland Heights, but now even wonder it that will materialize as O goes by today and tonight. Darn!
But, even though O MIGHT be a rain disappointment here in Catalina, there are plenty of opportunities to get substantial rains AFTER O goes by due to lingering tropical air combined with the presence of an upper low pressure center along the Cal coast in the days ahead. Cloud Maven Person thinks (of course, as an “unofficial weather thinker”) that more rain will fall in the spotty thunderstorms here in the Catalina area in the five or so days after O than in O today. We shall see, won’t we?
However, before moving along, let us examine in the colorfully annotated map below those results produced by the truly great thinker inside the “Beowulf Cluster” at the University of Arizona’s Dept of Atmospheric Meteorology to compare the dinky amount CMP is dreading. Its only fair.
Shown below is more like a heavenly rain here, some 1-2 inches is predicted to fall over a number of hours, not in one dump. Hoping for what is shown below, but think it will be quite a bit less.
Besides, rather than having completely cloudy skies, as today’s sky will likely be, those heavy guys in the days ahead will be far more “photogenic” you might say with their black shafts and sparks. Rainrates will be greater, too, in those situations than from O’s clouds, which are a little too stratiformy and all mixed together for the blinding rains we see in our thunderstorm rain shafts. Also, since O’s little circulation will pass just to the east of us, the flow off the Catalinas will be a little downhill from the east, which helps to reduce what we might get here, too.
In contrast to the semi-steady rains of O later today, our summer thunderstorms can drop an inch or even two in 15 minutes (yep, its been recorded in gauges). The flooding rains we had a week ago last Monday, the rates were 1-2 inches. Makes quite a difference in erosion.
—-rambling aside below—-
Its interesting to me, stepping aside from direct weather commentary into a more philosophical one, how the story of O resembles life in general as happens to all of us growing up. All of the promise that O had for producing heavy, but mostly beneficial, rains here in Arizona, has been reduced, like that of a youngster growing up that gets straight A’s in the 7th grade, 8th grade, but then loses all of his focus when puberty hits and notices all those wonderful, endlessly intriguing, fascinating, “can’t take my eyes off of you”, creatures around you that seemed so boring and non-existent just a few years earlier. But now they have become the greatest conundrum in all of life! Instead studying, you, as I did, began making jokes in class as a way of getting the opposite sex (!) to notice you because you didn’t have any other social skills to interact with “girls” with. And, like me, you started getting kicked out of class and sent to the principal’s office for causing distractions. THESE humiliations after all those straight A’s and accolades we got from teachers just a year or two earlier. All of our promise, like O’s, dissipated: you’ve discovered that you’re a Saffir-Simpson Category 5 heterosexual, to continue a tropical theme here.
The life of O has been just like that; the once proud storm, so organized, so full of rain potential for Catalina, became “distracted”, disorganized, and torn apart by mountains, vagaries in the topography and lack of warm water to feed on. O’s life reflecting our own lives when hormones hit, blind siding us, deflecting us from the productive lives we thought were ahead but instead into poor grades and lack of self-control, which meant we had to go to a community college instead of real college. And even then, when you find you have a Spanish class there with Miss Wisconsin of 1961, the distractions and poor grades continue… You can’t even get into UCLA after seven years of JC!
Yes, O’s story IS the story of every man. Believe me, I understand what you went through and how hard it was to dissipate so much promise early in life, as tropical O has likely done for us here in Catalina.