Category Archives: Stories from the field

Cirrus, Cirrocumulus and Altostratus day closes with a painting-like sunset (now updated even more!)

No rain in sight for Catalinans, to get that over with.

However, if you’re bored and are thinking about a quickie storm chasing vacation with the family, monster storms, likely to produce newspaper headlines will be smashing the Pac NW in the next few days.  Expect to read about flooding and hurricane to 100 mph winds on the Washington/Oregon coast sometime.  Also, Tofino, British Columbia, along the SW coast of Vancouver Island, would be a great place to head for, watching giant waves crash up against the coast and around that lighthouse they have around there, pounding rains…

The long fetch with these storms in the Pacific guarantees some monster waves.

3:49 AM, 14 Oct:  Mark “WeatherPal”  Albright informed me that a 94 mph wind was observed last evening (the 13th) near Astoria, OR.

The next low,   a “regular low” but one energized by leftover moisture from Typhoon Songda,  looks to be even stronger than last night’s low.  This one comes  in  moving really rapidly tomorrow evening while deepening (central pressure is dropping further) as it passes over the Washington coast.  Looks like that one will be a “blow-down” storm;  good-bye timber.

The synoptic pattern (placement of jet streams and lows) is       “Freda-esque”, that is, similar to that of October 12, 1962, the infamous Columbus Day storm where a remnant of Typhoon Freda zipped in as a regular low that deepened explosively as it raced up the Pacific NW coast bringing winds of 100-200 mph and blowing down BILLIONS of board feet of timber as well as weather pal, Mark Albright,  mentioned above,  when he was a kid1

Well, we sure hope its not THAT similar!

Yesterday’s Clouds

Lots of interesting patterns and complexities in yesterday’s skies. If you didn’t see them, here they are, though its kind of a much ado about nothing, really:

1:23 PM. Icy Cirrocumulus. As a solid band of high and middle clouds approached, the first things we saw as the moisture began to increase aloft were some spectacular patterns in isolated high clouds as it approached. Probably most of the Cirrocumulus we see is composed of droplets, but here, it appears to be composed of ice, possibly starting as droplets at the upwind edge,
1:23 PM. Icy Cirrocumulus. As a solid band of high and middle clouds approached, the first things we saw as the moisture began to increase aloft were some spectacular patterns in isolated high clouds as the solid band  approached. Probably most of the Cirrocumulus we see is composed of droplets,  and never glaciates, but here, it appears to be composed of ice, though likely started as droplets at the upwind edge (middle of photo).  At the top of the photo, the tiny “granulets” are fibrous, clearly ice, and strands of ice crystals are starting to make their way down.
1:23 PM. Got excited and thought you might like a zoomed view of this patch in case you didn't get one.
1:23 PM. Got excited and thought you might like a zoomed view of this patch in case you didn’t get one.
1:30 PM. I thought this was kind of a strange and fun pattern for you. Look how the youngest cloud elements are over there beyond the Catalinas and the oldest ones with strands of ice crystals falling out are overhead. Besides perspective giving you a sense of radiating lines, one would normally guess that the wind way up there (about 30 kft above the ground) is heading toward you, newest parts back there, oldest ones arriving overhead, which would be from the south in this shot. But the wind was from the west-southwest at this level, perpendicular to this scene. Can't say either of us has seen this before, quite the "Tom Foolery" in a cloud scene.
1:30 PM. I thought this was kind of a strange and fun pattern for you. Look how the youngest cloud elements are over there beyond the Catalinas and the oldest ones with strands of ice crystals falling out are overhead. Besides perspective giving you a sense of radiating lines, one would normally guess that the wind way up there (about 30 kft above the ground) is heading toward you, newest cloud (Cirrocumulus, maybe lenticularis)  back there, oldest ones arriving overhead, which would be from the south in this shot.  But the wind was from the west-southwest at this level, perpendicular to this scene. Can’t say either of us has seen this before; quite the “Tom Foolery” in a cloud scene, a real knee-slapper.  Clouds do that a lot where we think we know what is going on, but, as they say, “upon further review”…..
1:32 PM. Confusion? Strands of ice and waves in this cloud seem to run in various directions.
1:32 PM. Confusion? Strands of ice and waves in this cloud that produced lines seem to run in various directions.  Some lines are perpendicular to the wind, blowing from the lower right to the upper left side, representing little bumps in the air, ones resembling sea swell rolling in to the shore,
1:40 PM. Pretty much unfathomable, too complex to even begin describing, which makes it worth photographing. We can make out some icy Cirrocumulus though, here and there, with that lenticular-looking backside beyond the mountains, though perspective may be bunching it up to look that way.
1:40 PM. Pretty much unfathomable, too complex to even begin describing in less than a page, which makes it worth photographing. We can make out what CMP deems as some icy Cirrocumulus though, here and there, with that lenticular-looking backside beyond the mountains, though perspective may be bunching it up to look that way.  I’ve already taken too many photos in just eight minutes!
2:10 PM. Breathing easier now, here, "simple" Cirrus fibratus, lined Cirrus clouds with mostly non-curving fibers,
2:10 PM. Breathing easier now, here, “simple” Cirrus fibratus, lined Cirrus clouds with mostly non-curving fibers,
Also 2:10 PM. The scene upwind of that "liney" Cirrus. Also "fibratus" except overhead there looks to be "uncinus" as evidenced by those thick regions likely trailing ice strands back toward the viewer.
Also 2:10 PM. The scene upwind of that “liney” Cirrus. Also “fibratus” except overhead there looks to be “uncinus” as evidenced by those thick regions (upper right hand corner) likely trailing ice strands back toward the viewer.
2:18 PM. Pretty soon the heavier masses of CIrrus began to appear, with lower, but still very cold droplet clouds just below them.
2:18 PM. Pretty soon the heavier masses of CIrrus (Spissatus) with some gray shading began to appear, with lower, but still very cold and at least momentarily,  Altocumulus droplet clouds  (above bush on the right) began to appear just below the Cirrus.  Clouds almost always lower in time, even when they don’t lead to a storm.
2:18 PM. More patterns. Here we have a mush of Altocumulus, very fine granulation of Cirrocumulus (top) and CIrrus clouds passing overhead. You can tell if clouds are at different levels by looking to see if they are moving all at the same rate. Here, if you looked really carefully, the little white tufts of Altocumulus clouds were moving in a slightly different direction than the Cirrus clouds were. How important is this. Not too much.
2:18 PM. More patterns. Here we have a mush of Altocumulus, very fine granulation of Cirrocumulus (top) and CIrrus clouds passing overhead. You can tell if clouds are at different levels by looking to see if they are moving all at the same rate. Here, if you looked really carefully, the little white tufts of Altocumulus clouds were moving in a slightly different direction than the Cirrus clouds were. How important is this. Not too much.
4:18 PM. Skipping ahead, the full boatload of this band, consisting of a thick Altostratus, was passed over at this time. The clearing on the right told you there was going to be a nice sunset in a couple of hours. This was the lowest level the moisture got to. somewhere in the 22-25 kft above the ground, according the the TUS sounding though the darkness of it may make it look lower.
4:18 PM. Skipping ahead, the full boatload of this band, consisting of a thick Altostratus, was passed over at this time. The clearing on the right told you there was going to be a nice sunset in a couple of hours. This was the lowest level the moisture got to. somewhere in the 22-25 kft above the ground, according the the TUS sounding though the darkness of it may make it look lower.
6:01 PM. Almost could have been a painting. The gradual ascent that produced the heavy line of Altostratus is now being broken up by patches of downward moving air, leaving holes and streakiness in the former solid cloud shield. But who cares when you can just sit and take scenes like this in!
6:01 PM. Almost could have been a painting. VIncent Van Gogh himself could not do this scene justice.  If you’ve seen his work, like “Starry Night“, you’ll know how bad he was at capturing the sky.  But for him to try to capture this scene, it would be beyond “bad”, but rather a total and complete travesty,.  The gradual ascent that produced the heavy line of Altostratus is now being broken up by patches of downward moving air, leaving holes and streakiness in the former solid cloud shield. But who cares when you can just sit and take scenes like this in!
6:06 PM. The moon amid CIrrus spissatus and other varieties of Cirrus. Notice that the disk of the moon is just a bit blurry, out of focus. That blurring is due to ice crystals in those Cirrus clouds. If it was a thin droplet cloud, the disk would appear crisp and very sharp.
6:06 PM. The moon amid CIrrus spissatus and other varieties of Cirrus. Notice that the disk of the moon is just a bit blurry, out of focus. That blurring is due to ice crystals in those Cirrus clouds. If it was a thin droplet cloud, the disk would appear crisp and very sharp..

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1Mark. like most kids who are blown over in a windstorm,  wanted to be a meteorologist right after that.   Its pretty traumatic and life changing when you’re blown over by wind.    CMP’s life was traumatized and changed forever when it snowed a few inches in the San Fernando Valley of southern California when he was six year’s old.  Not sure you’ll find this information in the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders #5, however, but its a well-known phenomenon in the weather subculture.

Lucky snap; studies in orange

From the past three days, these:

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From a single snap, this LTG complexity caught three evenings ago.
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This was taken seconds before the big flash, which kind of ruined the exposure when it happened.
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This last series of photos were taken the evening before. Kinda pretty I thought.

DSC_8238 DSC_8232 DSC_8231

In other news…..

Record July rains are falling in much of the coastal and intermediate valleys of southern California as the pathetic remnant of once proud Category FOUR hurricane Dolores makes landfall there today.  Places like San Diego have had well over an inch, unheard of in July.  August, not so much, since tropical storm remnants have passed over southern Cal in a few Augusts.  Remember August 1977, when two inches fell on LA due to a tropical storm remnant?

That also August deluge in Los Angeles, by coincidence I am sure, preceded the big Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) switch in which low centers in the Pacific shifted farther to the south beginning with the 77-78 winter and the Arctic warmed up.  Wallace et al 1995, Science Mag, discoverers of the PDO, were claiming that the PDO shift had seriously muddied up the global warming hoopla of the time, suggesting caution in those global warming claims.

Nobody really paid any attention, since it was about to get even WARMER in the years immediately ahead, like in the 97-98 winter when a giant El Nino, like the one now out there, spiked earth temperatures to a record high of the time.

By the way,  the phrase, “global warming”,  has been supplanted by the phrase, “climate change”, one that has been bastardized from its original use since climatologists have always considered the phrase,  “climate change” a temperature-neutral, precipitation-neutral, could-go-either-way one, but as you know today it is one-tailed;   that is, “climate change” today has only  ONE meaning by those (often non-professionals) who use it;   that an anthropogenic WARMING of the climate is underway with its attendant effects on precipitation and life itself.

When the earth stopped warming some 15-20 years ago, the global warming phrase heard all over the media had to be supplanted with something else, of course.  I laugh, bitterly really, when I think of award-winning science geophys writer, Richard Kerr, of Sceince Mag, who wrote an article in Science, quoting the Hadley Center and such, titling his 2009 article about the hiatus in the rise in temperature, “What Happened to Global Warming?”

Of course, today such a title would not be allowed in Science Magazine.  But then, Richard Kerr could not have titled his article, “What Happened to Climate Change?” either, since climate change is always happening on this planet, probably the others like it.

Speaking of mud, or muddying things up, some scientists (Karl et al.)  are now claiming (in 2015)  there was NO HIATUS in the earth’s temperature;  that its been rising all along!  This astounding finding is due to some manipulations/”corrections” of existing data and use of African and other data not previously available.  You can read about this in summary form: Lost and Found_Sci 6-5-2015

This made me feel sad for the great scientists of the day, like Susan Soloman and others,  who have generated hypotheses about WHY the pause in the rise in temperatures has occurred, even publishing those hypotheses in high end journals like Science Mag or Nature.

Those folks are bound to be pretty embarrassed now since they may have been explaining nothing that was real.  It doesn’t get more embarrassing than that;  kind of like explaining N-Rays, that bogus radiation reported after the turn of the century by French scientist, Renee Blondlot, at Nance University (the “N” was for Nance).  Man, was Blonbdlot embarrassed when American physicist, Robert Wood, went to France to see “N-Rays” for himself and found that they were imaginary and reported them as so1.  N-Rays, though they had been “confirmed” in numerous studies, were soon gone from the scene, one of the greatest mass delusions known to science.

Was there REALLY no hiatus, that the Hadley Center in England, perhaps the foremost climate center in the world, was somehow misled when they were reporting a pause or hiatus in warming?  One thinks that the Karl et al 2015 report will get a LOT of scrutiny.  Stand by….

More TSTMS in the area today through most of the summer.  Hope one hits here in the Heights.  We’re falling behind our 3.5 inch or so average for July.

The End.

 

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1It was the story of American physicist, Robert Wood, as told in the 1982 book, Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science,  by William Broad and Nicholas Wade, that partially inspired your Catalina Cloud Maven.com to go to Israel in 1986 to see the clouds for himself since,  in his experience after years of airborne cloud work at the University of Washington), the cloud reports emanating out of Israel were goofy, also the likely product of someone’s imagination.  Those Israeli cloud reports WERE goofy as found by your author (1988 pub), and independently by others (U of Tel Aviv).

Hihg clouds begin to move toward Catalina! Storm of bullet rosettes ahead!

Misspelling the word, “high” was inadvertent; but leaving it was deliberate, thinking it might work as another cheap attempt to get more than one reader1, presently my mom.   Hi, mom.  Glad you enjoyed your mom’s day dinner yesterday, followed by the exciting trip through the Catalina car wash.  Really squirts, doesn’t it?

Continuing….people might wonder if “hihg” a new word or acronym they haven’t seen before, maybe wonder if it describes something they should know about.   So, I am looking to capture one or two extra folks today.

Our next “storm” will occur mostly above 20 kft above Catalina in the form of light snow showers of single ice crystals from Cirrus clouds, typically those crystals that fall out of Cirrus clouds are bullet rosettes.

What’s a bullet rosette?  See below:

University of Washington flight engineer, Don Spurgeon monitors the Stratton Park Engineering Company's images of "bullet rosettes" in flight.
University of Washington flight engineer, Don Spurgeon.  monitors the Stratton Park Engineering Company’s images of “bullet rosettes” in flight.  Chad Slattery, Smithsonian mag free lance writer, took the shot.  Sadly, Don and the other crew members did not get into the Smithsonian article, only Pete Hobbs and me.  Pretty sad for them but happy for me! Yes, I was on this flight!  Except it wasn’t a flight, we were sitting on the ground at Paine Field, Everett, WA, where our plane was kept, and Don brought up that image so that Chad could take what would appear to be an “action. in-flight” shot in his article.

 

Oh, there could be an Altocumulus cloud, too, by tomorrow.  But that’s about it.  Our last storm was not actually a storm, btw, though there were some low clouds.   I guess it got pretty windy, but not rain fell here, nor did it snow whatsoever atop Ms. Lemmon, though it was cold enough to.  Boohoo.

But, the overall trend for upper cyclonic systems to nest over the Great Southwest continues, insuring a mild May here in Catalinaland, and also a ton of precip in other parts of the SW, with only brief interruptions of hot air, like the kind that comes from this weather keyboard.

The pretty, and high Cirrus clouds should begin arriving this afternoon, except that some are already arriving (5:20 AM)!  Cloud maven seems to be on a wrong streak!

Next Catalina rain chance, graciously presented by the Canadians, is overnight, May 14-15th, just a few days from now.  Check it out.  This graphic been arrowated and texted for your convenience and understanding.

Valid at 5 AM AST, May 15th.  Lower right panel shows where The Model thinks that rain has fallen during the prior 12 h, and it includes Catalina!
Valid at 5 AM AST, May 15th from the Enviro Can GEM model.   Lower right panel shows where The Model thinks that rain has fallen during the prior 12 h, and it includes Catalina!

 

The End

 

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1Still can’t get over that Atlantic article about, “Blogging for dollars”; its like a song hook, maybe like the one from,   The Model,  by the very Germanic Kraftwerk techno-pop group, and yet after two years, I have made nothing!  With millions of readers, you can make a LOT of money, get some great advertising like the various stuff that precedes the viewing of The Model, which has already accumulated more than 4 million views!

So I continue to reach out for readers and money.

What would a neurotic-compulsive, self-described “cloud maven” do with “a LOT of money”?

Underground power lines in his neighborhood.  They obstruct sky and cloud views.  Used to be quite a movement around the US to do that, but not so much anymore.

Loud May rain totals 0.47 inches in Sutherland Heights, Catalina

After last evening’s surprisingly heavy rain, we have now met our average for May for Catalina, having received 0.47 inches of rain over the past 24 h, some 0.36 inches during some house-shaking thunderclaps last evening.

Below are the 24 h local totals, ending at 4 AM today from the Pima County ALERT gauges rolling archive , these totals pretty much capturing all of our beautiful storm:

    Gauge    Location
    ID#    
    —-     —-       —-        —-       —-         —-       —————–            ———————
Catalina Area
    1010     0.63      Golder Ranch                            Horseshoe Bend Rd in Saddlebrooke
    1020     0.83      Oracle Ranger Station          approximately 0.5 mi SW of Oracle
    1040     0.55      Dodge Tank                   Edwin Rd 1.3 mi E of Lago Del Oro Parkway
    1050     0.75      Cherry Spring                approximately 1.5 mi W of Charouleau Gap
    1060     0.79      Pig Spring                   approximately 1.1 mi NE of Charouleau Gap
    1070     0.39      Cargodera Canyon             NE corner of Catalina State Park
    1080     0.63      CDO @ Rancho Solano       CDO Wash NE of Saddlebrooke
    1100     0.35      CDO @ Golder Rd              CSO Wash at Golder Ranch Dr

Santa Catalina Mountains
    1030     1.18      Oracle Ridge                 Oracle Ridge,  1.5 mi N of Rice Peak
    1090      0.35      Mt. Lemmon                   Mount Lemmon
    1110      1.34      CDO @ Coronado Camp          CDO Wash 0.3 mi S of Coronado,       1130          0.83      Samaniego Peak               Samaniego Peak on Samaniego Ridge
    1140      0.79      Dan Saddle                   Dan Saddle on Oracle Ridge
    2150     0.24      White Tail                   Catalina Hwy 0.8 mi W of Palisade RS
    2280     0.24      Green Mountain               Green Mountain
    2290      0.12      Marshall Gulch               Sabino Creek 0.6 mi SSE of Marshall Gulch

For more rainfall info, go here and here.  And here to the USGS, too, not to mention the NWS rainfall tables.  Too bad they can’t all be in one gigantic table!

The clouds and weather just ahead

A little cold morning rain, and even snow on The Lemmon, is looking likely for Saturday morning.  Presently, the core of the jet stream at 500 millibars or around 18,000 feet associated with a  mighty upper cold low that sits on Arizona on Saturday is forecast to be south of us (as was yesterday’s jet), a pretty black and white discriminator for cool season (Oct-May) rain here.

However, if that jet core around the low does not circumscribe TUS, you can forget rain.  From IPS MeteoStar, this rendering of the upper level configuration for Saturday morning, showing that it WILL circumscribe TUS:

The 500 mb heights and winds predicted for 5 AM AST, Saturday morning, May 10th. Its gonna a cool Mom's Day, too.  One would expect rain here in Catalina with this configuration.  Note how max winds are in a band well south of us.  That banding circumscribes the deeper parts of the Pacific moisture that came in with this trough.
The 500 mb heights and winds predicted for 5 AM AST, Saturday morning, May 10th. Its gonna a cool Mom’s Day, too. One would expect rain here in Catalina with this configuration. Note how max winds are in a band well south of us. That banding circumscribes the deeper parts of the Pacific moisture that came in with this trough.  This rendering is from the global crunch of data taken at about 5 PM AST, yesterday evening.  These runs are updated every six hours.

In the meantime, “troughiness” today,  tomorrow and Thursday, with secondary jet stream to south of us,  will give us some more photogenic high-based  Cumulus, maybe with some with virga in the afternoons.    Today, as our upper low says goodbye, subsiding air is supposed to keep clouds from attaining tops high and cold enough to form ice.   So, no rain today.

Yesterday’s clouds (going deep, as in pedantically)

There were some great scenes yesterday, summer-like ones, odd for May here, with massive rainshafts as the cloud bases lowered, reflected a huge jump in surface dewpoints to summer-like values in the mid-50s.  Cloud bases yesterday morning, riding the tops of Samaniego Ridge, were near 7 C, compared with -5 C the afternoon before.

This warming of  cloud bases greases the precipitation “wheel” since clouds with warm bases are be able to rain easier than ones with cold bases (say, near or at below freezing temperatures).   Droplet sizes have to be larger at any given level above cloud base compared to the clouds of the day before since more moisture is forming in those updrafts at the higher base temperature.    And, oddly, the larger the droplets, the higher the temperature at which ice can begin forming in clouds.    And when ice forms, snow, then rain, come out the bottom.

To go on too long on this in covering all rain possibilities for yesterday,  a base temperature of 7 C here is on the edge of being able to produce droplets big enough so that some begin colliding with one another and sticking together so that drizzle, then raindrops can form, a couple to a few thousand feet above cloud base, and those sizes of drops can really accelerate the formation of ice and then rain out the bottom.  Are there any readers left?  I doubt it.

Let us go even deeper….  It was hazy, smoky looking yesterday most of the morning, even when some good thunderstorms formed.  So what?  Well, smoke is bad for storms.  Remember when it was reported by Warner and and the U of Arizona’s own Sean Twomey (1967) that sugarcane burning made it stop raining downwind from those fires in Australia?   That effect has been verified in satellite measurements by cloud seeding nemesis, Danny Rosenfeld2 of the HUJ in Science a few years ago.

Well, too much smoke can choke droplet sizes down and inhibit the formation of rain by collisions, and delay the formation of ice.   And so we had that counter effect of smoke from somewhere, maybe LA this time since it was in the boundary layer, not aloft like that smoke layer from Asia was a couple of weeks ago.

So, cloud microstructurally-spekaing, it was an especially interesting day, one, if he were cloud maven person, wishes he would have had an aircraft to sample them.

But let us look now and see what all the fuss is about:

5:40 AM.  Dewpoints in the 50s, Stratocumulus clouds top Samaniego Ridge!
5:40 AM. Dewpoints in the 50s;  Stratocumulus clouds top Samaniego Ridge!
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6:41 AM. Soft-serve Cumulonimbus forms over west Tucson, Oro Valley. Icy top looks like its comprised of needles and hollow sheaths to me, ice that forms at relatively high temperatures for ice formation, higher than -10 C.
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6:42 AM. In the meantime, drama over Oro Valley to the west and north of Catalina as a deeper cloud unloads. Thunder, too.
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7:19 AM. Haze and rain. This was a pretty astounding sight, so much haze/smoke in the rain as evidenced by these intense crepuscular rays.
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8:19 AM. A real summer-looking sky on a big rain day. Frequent lightning was emitted by this behemoth that went on to pound Saddlebrooke.
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8:37 AM. Unusually strong May thunderstorm pounds Saddlebrooke.

3:42 PM.  In spite of lots of convection and scattered Cumulonimbus clouds, the sky remained almost an eastern whitish due to smoke.
3:42 PM. In spite of lots of convection and scattered Cumulonimbus clouds, the sky remained almost an eastern whitish due to smoke, which I will blame on southern California, absent any facts or investigation.  No time.
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6:59 PM. Our major evening rain and thunderstorms were developing upstream.

The End

 

 

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1Warner, J. and S. Twomey, 1967: The Production of Cloud Nuclei by Cane Fires and the Effect on Cloud Droplet Concentration. J. Atmos Sci., 24, 704–706.

2Rosenfeld a “nemesis?”    See  the references and discussion below for kind of an interesting science story aside….

Rangno, A. L., and P. V. Hobbs, 1997a: Reply to Rosenfeld. J. Appl. Meteor., 36, 272-276, and…..

Rangno, A. L., and P. V. Hobbs, 1997b: Comprehensive Reply to Rosenfeld, Cloud and Aerosol Research Group, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, 25pp.

With the publication of voluminous (en toto) commentaries/critiques in 1997 by a few of our peers, but mainly by Danny Rosenfeld of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, that concerned our 1995 paper reanalyzing the Israeli randomized experiments, yours truly and Peter V. Hobbs,  had attained, according the the Technical Editor of the Journal, the status of having become the most criticized meteorologists in the history of weather–well, in the history of the Amer. Meteor. Soc. journals, anyway!  How fun is that?  Its fun.

Our findings, that the two benchmark Israeli randomized cloud seeding experiments conducted in the 1960s and 1970s were largely misperceptions of cloud seeding effects due to storm biases on seeded days,  were independently verified in peer-reviewed publications by researchers at Tel Aviv University some many years later.

Operational cloud seeding has ended in Israel in favor of more fruitful avenues for obtaining the water they so badly need.