Category Archives: Spaghetti plots

Thunderblasts after midnight awaken sleeping Catalinans with 50 mph winds, graupel, and R++; latest storm total now 1.38 inches!

In case you don’t believe me that over an inch fell, this digital record from Sutherland Heights with writing on it:

20170120-21 rain day
Your last 24 h of rain in the Sutherland Heights, Catalina, Arizona, USA. Total resets at midnight.

Probably a little more to come, too.  Got some blow damage, I’m sure.  Will be looking for roof shingles around the yard today.

12:45 AM. Your radar and IR satellite imagery for our blast last night from IPS MeteoStar
12:45 AM. Your radar and IR satellite imagery for our blast last night from IPS MeteoStar .  That tiny red region near Catalina represents hail and/or extremely heavy rain.

And, as everyone knows from their favorite TEEVEE weatherperson, “New Storm to Pound SE Arizonans!”  Begins Monday night, Tuesday AM.  May have snow in it as it ends.

Your know, its no fun telling people what they already know, so lets look ahead beyond the normal forecast period of great accuracy, beyond not seven days, not eight, but beyond TEN days!

First, we set the stage with a ten day look ahead (from last evening) in a NOAA spaghetti factory plot:

Valid for 5 PM, Monday, January 30th. If you've not seen this, you'll be screaming "warm in the West, and damn Cold in the East." Its a common pattern often associated with some of the driest years in the West when it recurs over and over again during a winter.
Valid for 5 PM, Monday, January 30th. If you’ve not seen this, you’ll be screaming “warm in the West, and damn Cold in the East.” Its a common pattern often associated with some of the driest years in the West when it recurs over and over again during a winter.

This plot indicates that the pattern of a towering, storm-blocking ridge is certain along the West Coast by ten days–will be developing for a day or three before this,  That ridge represents an extrusion of warm air aloft over the entire West Coast extending all the way into Alaska.  The couple of red lines in and south of AZ are due to the change of a minor, likely dry, cutoff low in our area about this time (plus or minus a day).

In other words, this plot suggests a warmer, dry period develops over AZ, and storms are shunted from the Pacific Ocean, located west of the West Coast, all the way to Anchorage and vicinity,  They will  be welcoming a warm up in weather up thataway at some point in this pattern.

Is that it, then, for the AZ winter precip?  It could happen.  Just one more storm after the current one fades away today?

Hint:  Sometimes anticyclone ridges like the one in the plot above get too big for their britches, and fall away, or, break off like a balloon from a tether, and a warm blob of air aloft sits at higher latitudes, often floating off to the northwest.

The exciting ramification of this latter scenario is that in the “soft underbelly” of the “blocking anticyclone” (as in American football), the jet stream throws something of a screen pass, goes underneath the belly of the blocking high,  and races in toward the West Coast at lower latitudes.  Having done so, such a break through pattern (“Break on through to the Other Side”) results in heavy rains in Cal and the Southwest.

Izzat what’s going to happen?

Let us look farther ahead, unprofessionally, really,  and see if there is evidence in spaghetti for such a development and you already know that there must be because it would explain why I am writing so much here.  Below, the EXCITING spaghetti plot strongly indicating break through flow breaking on through to the other side, i.e., the West Coast,  from the lower latitudes of the Pacific:

Valid on Thursday, February 2, at 5 PM AST. Flow from the lower latitudes of the Pac will, in fact, break on through to the other side, as told in song by the Doors1.
Valid on Thursday, February 2, at 5 PM AST. Flow from the lower latitudes of the Pac will, in fact, break on through to the other side, as told in song by the Doors1.  Who knows what they were talking about but here we’re talking about a jet stream….

Well, we’ll see in a coupla weeks if CMP knows what he is talking about..  I think this is going to happen, resembles what’s happening now, and weather patterns like to repeat, more so within the same winter.  However, how much precip comes with this pattern will be determined by how much flow breaks on through to the other side….

Yesterday’s clouds

Let us begin our look at yesterday’s clouds by looking back three days ago before the Big Storm.  We had a nice sunrise.   Here it is in case you missed it:

DSC_1680
7:21 AM. Altostratus sunrise. Virga is highlighted showing the precipitating nature of Altostratus. Amount of virga can vary.
DSC_1686
7:31 AM. Same kind of view, different colors.
DSC_1689
7:40 AM. Highlight on the Tortolitas. This is why you carry your camera at all times.
9:04 AM. Pretty much solid gray after that nice sunrise for the rest of the day with cloud bases lowering and raising. Early on, cloud bases were well above 10,000 feet; i. e;, above Mt. Lemmo, and would be called, "Altostratus opacus." The virga is very muted, and there are embedded droplet clouds as well as a droplet cloud layer (Altocumulus) encroaching on the right. Estimated ceiling here: 12,000 overcast." (Pronounced, "one-two thousand overcast" if you want to make your friends think that maybe you were a pilot at some time in your life.)
9:04 AM. Pretty much solid gray after that nice sunrise for the rest of the day with cloud bases lowering and raising. Early on, cloud bases were well above 10,000 feet; i. e;, above Mt. Lemmo, and would be called, “Altostratus opacus.” The virga is very muted, and there are embedded droplet clouds as well as a droplet cloud layer (Altocumulus) encroaching on the right. Estimated ceiling here: 12,000 overcast.” (Pronounced, “one-two thousand overcast” if you want to make your friends think that maybe you were a pilot at some time in your life.)
12:58 PM.
12:58 PM. Clouds began to appear on Samaniego Ridge as the moist air above us lowered steadily.  However, due to lowering cloud tops, the ice in the higher overcast layer was gone. Here there are two layers above the scruff of Stratus fractus (I would call it) on the ridge.  The lower one looks like its a Stratocumulus, and the higher one a solid layer of “Altocumulus opacus.”  Its already rained some, and we were in between storm bands.
2:48 PM. Looked like the Altocumulus opacus (stratiformis, if you want to be exactly correct) was breaking up just enough for a sun break. But no, kept filling in as it headed this way from the southwest.
2:48 PM. Looked like the Altocumulus opacus (stratiformis, if you want to be exactly correct) was breaking up just enough for a sun break. But no; it kept filling in as it headed this way from the southwest.  No ice, or virga evident, so tops are pretty warm, probably warmer than -10° C (23° F) would be a good guess. Hah!  Just now looked at the TUS sounding and tops were indicated to be at -11° C, still very marginal for ice (absent drizzle drops in clouds, which causes ice to form at much higher temperatures, but you already knew that.)
4:24 PM. Small openings allowed a few highlights to show up on the Catalinas underneath that Altocumulus opacus layer.
4:24 PM. Small openings allowed a few highlights to show up on the Catalinas underneath that Altocumulus opacus layer.  And  clouds were still topping Ms. Mt. Lemmon, indicating a good flow of low level moisture was still in progress.

Moving forward to only two days ago, the day preceding the nighttime blast:  a cold, windy day with low overcast skies all day, shallow, drizzle-producing clouds, something we don’t see a lot of here in Arizona.

8:08 AM, January 20th, 2017, btw. "Gray skies, nothin' but gray skies, from now on", by Irving B.
8:08 AM, January 20th, 2017, btw. “Gray skies, nothin’ but gray skies, from now on”, by Irving B.  Stratus fractus underlies an overcast of Stratocumulus.  Some light rain is falling toward Romero Pass on the right.
8:10 AM. A really special shot. Stratus with drizzle is a very difficult photographic capture. I can feel how enthralled you are with this view toward Oro Valley. You know, I do this for YOU.
8:10 AM. A really special shot. Stratus with drizzle, shown here,  is a very difficult photographic capture. I can feel how enthralled you are with this scene toward Oro Valley. You know, I do this for YOU.  Look how uniform the gray is!  It just takes your breath away!
9:44 AM. Before long, drier air down low moved in, eradicating our beautiful Stratus layer, leaving only holdouts (Stratus fractus) along the Catalina foothills below the heavy layer of Stratocumulus.
9:44 AM. Before long, drier air down low moved in, eradicating our beautiful Stratus layer, leaving only holdouts (Stratus fractus) along the Catalina foothills below the heavy layer of Stratocumulus.
10:20 AM. The wind had now shown up, and these ragged, shredded shallow Stratocumulus shedding drizzle or very light rain showers stormed across the Catalina Mountains. This was quite remarkable sight, since such shallow clouds as these are more often seen in clean maritime locations like Hawaii. Scenes like this suggest that the cloud droplet concentrations were very low, and that there were larger than normal cloud condensation nuclei on which the drops could form, getting a head start in the sizes needed to produce collisions with coalescene (larger than 30 microns in diameter (about one third to one half a human hair in diameter, for perspective.)
10:20 AM. The wind had now shown up, and these ragged, shredded shallow Stratocumulus shedding drizzle or very light rain showers stormed across the Catalina Mountains. This was quite remarkable sight, since such shallow clouds as these are more often seen in clean maritime locations like Hawaii. Scenes like this suggest that the cloud droplet concentrations were very low, and that there were larger than normal cloud condensation nuclei on which the drops could form, getting a head start in the sizes needed to produce collisions with coalescene (larger than 30 microns in diameter (about one third to one half a human hair in diameter, for perspective.)

 

3:12 PM. Lower, drier air moved in, eradicating the Stratocumulus and revealing the rarely seen Nimbostratus precip-producing layer. This layer, considered a mid-level cloud, is usually obscured by, you guessed it, Stratocumulus clouds.
3:12 PM. Lower, drier air moved in, eradicating the Stratocumulus and revealing the rarely seen Nimbostratus precip-producing layer. This layer, considered a mid-level cloud, is usually obscured by, you guessed it, Stratocumulus clouds.

By the end of the day, the clouds had lowered again, and we were about to have a very interesting night!

5:01 PM.
5:01 PM.

The End

———————-
1Remember how great we hippie relics thought that first Doors album was? Later, the Doors, and that era were to be made fun of by 80s punk and humor group,  The Dead Milkman in “Bitchin’ Comaro.” (Its worth a listen.)

 

 

Lot of uncertainty showing up in spaghetti

For fans of NOAA spaghetti, this plot generated from last evening’s global data.  Really, the uncertainty is overwhelming:

Valid at 5 PM AST, January 26th.
Valid at 5 PM AST, January 27th.

Every so often one of these goofy ones comes out, a real knee-slapper.  The real situation is that we have a series of storms on the doorstep, the stronger ones barging in on the 20th or so, as the bonafide spaghetti outputs were indicating.  These will be cold ones; yes, cold ones on tap, with a good chance of snow in “Catalina-by-the-Mountains”, which might also be a good new name for our little CDP.

Snowbirds to be upset by snow and cold in early December

Wasn’t going to blather about clouds and weather for a few days since there wasn’t any, just sit around and wait for those end of November storms to get  here, then regale you with cloudy pictures.

But when I went to the NOAA spaghetti factory just now, I was blown away, beside myself, when I saw those outputs.  Being one of the meteorological sophisticates, I suspect you’ve already trampled these maps.  But, at the risk of being redundant again and again, here are a couple of jaw droppers from last night’s global data with errors input into the computer model at the beginning of the run to see how much the upper level forecasts change.  There are always errors in measurements, they’re not perfect, and so by deliberately putting errors in models, we can see that range of differences in the outcomes.  At first, there are virtually no differences because the errors are tiny.  But over time their effect grows.

In these plots below, when the two colors of crazy lines cluster (red, representing the warmer side of the jet stream,  and blue, the colder side) , it means the errors had little effect, and the forecast of a general pattern on the jet stream is one you can have great confidence in.

Below, a forecast via the “errorful ensembles” to be alliterative there for a second,  in which the confidence can be quite high showing that a gigantic cold trough will sit atop most of the western US in the coming 9-12 days.  Really, these are incredible:

Valid at 5 PM AST December 2nd. A massive pile of cold air is bound to be planted on top of the West with low temperatures and freezing levels by this time. Should make quite the news stories I would think when this comes around.
Valid at 5 PM AST December 2nd. A massive pile of cold air is bound to be planted on top of the West with low temperatures and freezing levels by this time. Should make quite the news stories I would think when this comes around.
201611230011spag_f264_nhbg
Here’s 24 h later, at 5 PM AST, December 3rd. Look at how far the cluster of red lines is to our south, WAY down in southern Baja. Wow. The clusteriing of blue lines in the West and in Arizona suggests a very cold early December is in the bag for us. These maps also show that the SE part of the US will be nice and toasty in comparison.

So, how will it play out?

Well, we already have rather quickly passing cold troughs with their cold fronts ahead in late November,  one that passes late on the 27th  likely to boost our Sutherland Heights precip totals to our average value or above.

Then,  the cold pattern gets amplified by this gargantuan  trough that sets up a few days after those first couple of cold shots, setting the stage for cold and colder blasts.  So the beginning of our cold weather and snowbirds muttering that they came to Arizona too soon,  is just a few days ahead (followed by a “sucker hole” of brief temperature recovery and a few sunny days.   (Well, I might be complaining, too, since cloud maven person, the writer,  moved to Arizona from Seattle to be warm all day,  every day.  haha, sort of.)

On the other hand, there’ll be some great cloud shots in spite of the cold, and you and I, the rest of the cloud people,  will both manage, warmed by the euphoria of being alive with such gorgeous scenes and exciting, changeable weather.

BTW, will close this shot-from-the-hip blog with a forecast of snow in Catalinaland in early December.  That’s right, CMP is expecting measurable snow right here in Catalina.

Remember our slogan, “Right or wrong, you heard it here first!”

“Alive and local”,  CMP

The End

 

 

 

May in November to end; rain dead ahead

Rain?  Cumulative totals predicted here from the University of Arizona Hydro and Weather Dept.  Starts overnight Sunday.  For those too lazy to review the information at the link above, here is a map of the rainfall totals ending at 11 PM, November 21st:

Cum precip through 11-21-2016 11 PM AST

Note that within this swath, Catalina is predicted to get over an inch of rain!  Note that the swath is not very wide.  A wide swath of heavy rain would be one as wide as the State.  So, we have to figure that this is a lucky hit at this time, and count on something less as a virtual certainty since the swath above will move around as new model runs look at it.  Typically, they shift a little east over time in those future model runs.  Hope not.

Have cameras ready for a pretty sunrise.  Lots of high ice clouds up there.

The weather WAY ahead

Spaghetti suggests more rain chances after a several day dry spell following the Monday rains.  Check out the “pretty strong” indications that we are in the trough bowl as the month comes to an end, meaning troughs should be populating Arizona during the last days of November.  In turn, good November rains, and one seems to be in the high confidence pipeline for SE Arizona as a whole, means the spring wildflowers will be given a boost.  I will go on record here as now forecasting, if that’s what this is,  a wetter than normal November rain total1.  Our November average since 1977 is 0.96 inches.

The ensemble or spaghetti plot from the NOAA spaghetti factory from last evening's global data.
The ensemble or spaghetti plot from the NOAA spaghetti factory from last evening’s global data.

The End.

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1This sentence will be deleted in the event of a drier than average November and will, therefore, not be on record.

October 2016 to close out with rain!

Threat!  (omitted portion of the headline above)

Check this out:

Valid at 5 PM AST October 28th. 2016.
Valid at 5 PM AST October 28th. 2016 based on global data from 5 PM AST last evening.

You got yer ridgy flow on the top (“top” meaning, “Canada”, around where that yellow line humps toward the north) and yer broadly cyclonic flow on the bottom (“bottom” meaning,  “Baja Cal and Mexico”) that is, across the whole western part of North America.  This indicates that we will have a configuration that suggests a “split flow” where part of the jet stream and a trough is forced into the Southwest.  Models are showing a big trough and cutoff that brings substantial rains to Arizona!

Of course, model forecasts are pretty dicey at this range, more than 10 days, and so that’s why I am reporting it fully here with great excitement!  That’s what we do here,  go over the edge, not just up to it.

And, for that slight amount of additional credibility, the “WRF-GFS” has been spitting out big storms for Arizona over the past several runs during this late October period.  See Arizona rain below from this rendering from IPS MeteoStar:

Valid at 5 PM October 27th, 2016. The colored regions denote where the model thinks in has rain in the prior 12 h.
Valid at 5 PM October 27th, 2016. The colored regions denote where the model thinks in has rain in the prior 12 h.  The rains are foretold to just be arriving at this time, and continue for a couple of days.  Nice!

Since I ran out of anything more to say, I will post a second version of this same map as a public service for international readers who are clueless about states in the USA:

Same as above, but for international readers of this blog, and others who may be geographically challenged.
Same as above, but for international readers of this blog, and others who may be geographically challenged.

Below, the upper level configuration that goes with the pattern above:

Also valid at 5 PM AST October 27th, 2016. Notice how a lot of the flow comes down this way after extruding into Canada, but some continues on across Canada. Disclosure note: this configuration has more amplitude (and thus a bigger chance for rain in southern Arizona, than was seen in the plot from the NOAA spaghetti factory. Few readers may get this far, so that's why I am placing it here. A announcement that rain might fall in southern Arizona makes people happy, and that's why I will show those models that predict the most rain here, not ones that skimp on a future rain.
Also valid at 5 PM AST October 27th, 2016. Notice how a lot of the flow comes down this way after extruding into Canada, but some continues on across Canada. Disclosure note: this configuration has more amplitude (and thus a bigger chance for rain in southern Arizona, than was seen in the plot from the NOAA spaghetti factory. Few readers may get this far, so that’s why I am placing some element of doubt here.   A announcement that rain might fall in southern Arizona makes people happy, and that’s why I will show those models that predict the most rain here, not ones that skimp on a future rain.  Doubt about a future rain disappoints, makes people sad.  Oh, yeah, and the latest WRF-GOOFUS model run, that from the 11 PM AST global data, had none of this.  What a poop that run was!  Does that later run affect the thought of rain late in the month?  Nope.

So, there are some questions about the magnitude of this event, will it be a spring wildflower energizer with a major rain, or a just a breezy spell with a dry cold front going by?  I’m on the side that a good soaking rain will fall sometime in those last few days of October.

No clouds, so no point in going farther….

The End.

 

Phantasmagorical?

This September 8-10 model-projected Arizona deluge caused by a dying tropical storm?   Then followed by four more days of rain around here?

Probably.

But you wait a lifetime to see model outputs like this, and so I’m going to save it here, even if it is “fantastic”, “phantasmagorical”, surely imaginary in a sense,  is model craziness, etc.

Nevertheless, treasurable moments in model output have been given to us desert dwellers overnight, the kind of rain-in-the-desert projected events that Hallmark cards were made for.

Here are the panels from IPS MeteoStar, a division of Sutron, where you can buy meteorological sensors, real good ones. I am posting so many of these panels, which is a little crazy in itself,  because in 24 h this series (linked to above) will be overwritten by the next model run from 5 PM AST  global data today, and we will likely never see such a wet series again foretold in a model. in our lifetimes.  Who knows, it COULD happen, but prepare for a broken heart:

Ann 2016083000_WST_GFS_SFC_SLP_THK_PRECIP_WINDS_2282016083000_WST_GFS_SFC_SLP_THK_PRECIP_WINDS_240 2016083000_WST_GFS_SFC_SLP_THK_PRECIP_WINDS_252 2016083000_WST_GFS_SFC_SLP_THK_PRECIP_WINDS_264 2016083000_WST_GFS_SFC_SLP_THK_PRECIP_WINDS_288 2016083000_WST_GFS_SFC_SLP_THK_PRECIP_WINDS_300 2016083000_WST_GFS_SFC_SLP_THK_PRECIP_WINDS_312 2016083000_WST_GFS_SFC_SLP_THK_PRECIP_WINDS_324 2016083000_WST_GFS_SFC_SLP_THK_PRECIP_WINDS_336 2016083000_WST_GFS_SFC_SLP_THK_PRECIP_WINDS_348 2016083000_WST_GFS_SFC_SLP_THK_PRECIP_WINDS_360 2016083000_WST_GFS_SFC_SLP_THK_PRECIP_WINDS_372 2016083000_WST_GFS_SFC_SLP_THK_PRECIP_WINDS_384Now that most have left this blog to go elsewhere, let us have some spaghetti to see if there is any hope that a tropical storm-sucking trough will be along the West Coast, and in a position to draw a hurricane northward along the Mexican coast by its southerly steering winds aloft.

Ann spag_f264_nhbg
Valid at 5 PM, September 9th.

As you can see, a trough (emphasized by the blue lines above) is destined to lie along the West Coast, in a position to steer any tropical storms toward Arizona that might be moving up the Mexican coast.  So, it looks like the chance of a tropical storm entering the state is certainly a fair amount greater than zero around the 9-10th of September.

The End.

More cool days ahead after hot spell

Wasn’t going to blog today Mom’s Day in case you forgot, but got pretty excited when I saw this just now.  You will, too.

Valid at 5 PM AST May 19th.
Valid at 5 PM AST May 19th.

As purported earlier, this May might not be so bad, sans a coupla hot spells.   So, hang on when it gets hot, relief is likely on the way!

Weak Cumulonimbus clouds to our north now, almost 6 AM.  Should be a pretty Cumulus day, some ice around for you to detect.

The End

All I can say is, “wow”

Partly its because I can’t think of anything else, brain pretty empty, but check this out:

Ann-2 spag_f360_nhbg
Valid for May 9th. Shows the kind of “split flow” we expected from the Big Niño, storms dividing in the central Pac or so, parts going northeast, often just grazing the Pac NW, so that area ends up drier than normal, whilst a southern branch from the CenPac carries storms to lower latitudes of the West Coast, drenching southern Cal and the Great American Southwest that we live in. Was that too long for one sentence? Well, moving ahead, you can see this pattern in how the non-political red lines diverge in the eastern Pacific from the non-political blue ones to the north, which there is quite a bit of in politics today as well. Well, anyway, it was kind of interesting of me to point this classic “Niño” pattern out to you, even though it is seen in a computer output form that is largely incomprehensible to most. What does it mean for AZ and Sutherland Heights? The red lines down thisaway on most of these maps to this point mean that there will be chances for rain, AND lower than normal temperatures for the first 10 days of May. Nice! The resultant headline is below:

 

Measurable rain to fall in the Sutherland Heights, Catalina, in May 2016!

OK, got that “scoop” out….  Here’s the link to NOAA from whence the above map came.

BTW, here’s what a split flow storm looks like as it comes into southern Cal.  Man, if it was January or Feb, this would be a real gully washer,  a “get the sandbags out” kind of storm.  I love this map so much!

Valid just ahead, really, for May 4th 11 PM AST.
Valid just ahead, really, for May 4th 11 PM AST.  This is the best example output lately and its from yesterday, but who cares.  We should see something resembling  this come out of the lower latitudes of the Pac.  From IPS MeteoStar.

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Now a little more on these kinds of crazy ensemble maps (“Lorenz”, as named here, or more known more generally as  “spaghetti” plots)

This kind of map was telling us we had rain threats at this time in April and at the end of the month some 10-15 days in advance, so far in advance that media weather folk would likely consider it unprofessional to make such a prediction so far in advance.  Since we’re not worried about being unprofessional here, we have leapt into the void!  Just go ahead and say things!  Get the story out now!

Today  a strong upper level trough with precip in the mountains of central and northern AZ will indeed be occurring today and tomorrow as was indicated by those crazy maps so long ago.  The hoped for rain here will not occur.

However,  the storm near the end of the month, also indicated way back then,  looks even stronger than the present one, and it will reach farther south than today’s, and so will not only bring some rain and very cool air to the central and northern AZ mountains, but likely around us, too!

I think you are going to like May!

The End

Here’s something interesting….

…forgetting about the weather immediately ahead, which everyone already knows about so its no fun to talk about:  “Yeah, I heard about that already,”  your neighbors will say,  end of conversation,  even if you’re not done if you talk about weather everybody already knows about.   Its hurtful, too.  It would be better if they pretended not to know what you’re telling them about today’s weather as a courtesy.    So am going with this, “hot out of the NOAA spaghetti oven”, longer range indicator plot.   Maybe my neighbors have not seen this yet….

All I can say about this plot is, “wow” here and then once more in the caption:

Valid at 5 PM AST, April 28th. Wow. The periodic storm threats will continue for AZ for the foreseeable future, which is about two weeks. Patterns like this also lead to tremendous storms in the Plains States. It might be time to get out there.
Valid at 5 PM AST, April 28th. Wow. The periodic storm threats will continue for AZ for the foreseeable future, which is about two weeks. Temperatures should be moderate, too, for April.  Patterns like this also lead to tremendous storms in the Plains States. It might be time to get out there.

The End