Category Archives: Stratocumulus clouds

Morning smog attack

One branch of a seemingly bifurcated plume, spread north along the side of Samaniego Ridge.  The other branch appeared to moved out of Tucson to Continental Ranch, “thence” northward toward the east side of the Tortolita Mountains.  It’s happened before, but is pretty rare, maybe once a year occurrence.

(Took an hour for these first three jpegs to be uploaded to WP, btw.)

7:23 AM.
7:25 AM.
7:25 AM.
8:16 AM. Smog plume at its maximum northward extend along Samaniego Ridge, Sutherland Heights area, before dissipating.
7:49 AM.
8:58 AM. Stratocumulus perlucidus races toward Catalina.
7:59 AM. Altocumulus translucidus perlucidus undulatus, quite a cloud-filled mouthful.
5:30 PM. This rain shaft is strong enough that one could suspect a weak Cumulonimbus cloud has erupted from the Stratocumulus.

Quitting here due to slower than dial-up service, hosting service, “godaddy” has confirmed its not them….

 

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Sutherland Heights logs 0.22 inches yesterday; Jan now at 1.32 inches; average is 1.60 inches, water year at 1.71 inches

0.22 inches was, indeed. how much rain fell in the form of drops  from Nimbostratus clouds yesterday as a modest little rain band generated by a rapidly moving trough swept through during the afternoon.  Regional precip values can be found here.  Our local area got the most, up to about a quarter of an inch, as often happens in marginal storms.

Yesterday’s storm marked the beginning of the new, more normal weather regime for southern Arizona, as has been blabbed about here in recent weeks.  No more week after week of droughty weather with temperature far above normal, the kind of weather that has marked this whole fall and winter so far!  I. e., “Thank you very much, a snowbird might say,  but get the hell out!”,  the rest of us might conjure up, thinking about the needs of our  desert’s wildlife and vegetation.

Indications are now that below normal temperatures and above normal precip are ahead for us and all of Arizona in late Jan and early February.

The evidence for these claims?

Below, the stunning, jaw-dropping evidence for this seemingly outlandish assertion in the form of an ensemble (spaghetti) plot generated by NOAA last night.  I have followed these charts for almost ten years now, and I cannot remember when such a strong signal (clustering of flow lines) 15 days out has occurred before in our region.

So, excessively excited this morning when I saw it!  Its been annotated with excitement text.

This troughy pattern begins to take place on January 30th.  Until then, a strong but dry cold front with a lot of wind comes by in a few days, on the 25-26th.

Valid at 5 PM AST, February 4th. You can pretty much count on a trough hereabouts in two weeks. Since the blue lines, the colder portion of the jet stream,  do not dip down this way so much, our troughiness likely would be in the form of something we call a “cutoff low.”   A full latitude trough extending from the “blue jet” up there in Canada, instead of a “cut off”, would be excessively cold.  We probably don’t want that anyway.

 Yesterday’s clouds

The whole interesting, if excessively gray story is shown below:

7:24 AM. It was breezy already, and with Cirrus underlain by Altocumulus lenticularis clouds in the lee of the Catalina Mountains, you knew that a storm day was ahead without turning on your favorite TEEVEE weatherman.
8:53 AM. With Cirrus and Altocumulus spreading rapidly from the SSW, lenticulars downstream from the mountains, the wind gusting to 25-35 mph, you knew a great gray cloud day was in store!
11:32 AM. Before long, an entire sheet of Stratocumulus spread over the sky, making you sure that rain would fall.
12:50 PM. First drops begin to fall on Sutherland Heights. That layer of Stratocumulus appeared to be deepening as it approached from the SSW to where the tops were getting just cold enough upwind of us to produce ice and snow that melted into those sparse drops.  Not enough ice /snow formed to hide the bases, though, in virga.
1:26 PM. Snow begins to fall on the Lemmon.
2:04 PM. Lower Stratocumulus clouds begin to show up below the original deck that overran us.

 

3:16 PM. Pretty and dramatic.  Stratocumulus piling up over and upwind of our Catalina Mountains/Pusch Ridge.
3:19 PM. Oh, so pretty.
3:27 PM. Crazy, I know, but I thought these scenes were so pretty!
3:28 PM. As that rain band approached there were some nice lighting highlights.
3:40 PM. Here comes that rain band  across Oro Valley/Marana.
4:19 PM. A truly great scene for a desert; mountains partially obscured in precipitation.
4:19 PM. Nimbostratus. Its hard to get a better photo of rainy Nimbostratus than this. Drops coming off the roof, NOT raindrops, can also be seen.  This was at the peak of the rain, too!  Very exciting.
5:54 PM. Sunset Stratocumulus, hold the ice. Yet, that Stratocumulus was cold, way below freezing.

 

The weather way ahead

The title sums up where we are now.  Will we go have more rain? Oh, yeah.  But not right away, as you already know.

 

 

Sutherland Heights rain: 0.97 inches and counting (as of 9:54 AM)! Thunder, too!

What an amazing and “productive”  little rainband that was just after midnight!  And more rain is likely with weaker bands just upwind here at 4 AM.  Could we really approach an inch?  Amazing.  Didn’t seem possible in this small mind that we could amass that much.  For a full regional rain table, go here to the ALERT gauge records.

An even more dense collection of rain totals can be found on the Weather Underground map for the Catalina/Tucson area *click on the precip button when you get there, radar, too).  We seem to have done better than just about anywhere else in the state, with 2.94 inches at Biosphere 2 leading the way (thanks to those “TSTMS” and the rain gushes with them, I am sure.)

Now, after this ends, a long dry spell has to be endured, at least until around the 20th of Jan, at which time we hope the troughs and rain threats at least,  will begin to barge in every few days, namely, and pattern more typical of winter sets in.

Yesterday’s clouds

8:31 AM. Typically lenticular clouds form in the lee of the Catalinas as storms approach. Lenticular clouds are good signs of deteriorating weather ahead since they are usually accompanied by strong, moistening winds aloft.
8:31 AM. Zoomed view of one lurking just beyond the crest of Ms. Mt. Sara Lemmon. The higher clouds were Cirrus (which can have grayness when the sun is low).
10:24 AM. Wasn’t long before this deck of Stratocumulus raced over the sky, adding that feeling that rain is a comin’.
11:32 AM. Some tendency to form the new supplementary cloud feature, termed, “asperatus undulatus” is shown here at the base of the Stratocumulus deck.
1:13 PM. Got excited when ice began to show up, with virga and light rain showers here and there.  Can you see that icy top receding from the Catalinas?  It wasn’t that high and cold, either.
1:14 PM. Nice highlighted view of Biosphere 2, with light rain showers in the background. Whodda guessed Bio2 would get 1.93 inches overnight? Not me!
1:59 PM. Light rain showers began to fall from that Stratocumulus layer, now pocked with buildups (Stratocu castellanus?) as temperatures aloft above cloud top cooled.  The haze is due to rain falling from overhead.  It did not measure.
1:59 PM. Looking upstream and the Stratocumulus deck whose tops were just ascending to the ice-producing level as they approached Catalina from the SSW. That clearing on the horizon maintained throughout this cloud and shower period suggesting it was caused soley by the lifting of the air as it approached the higher terrain of Catalina and the mountains. It was soon to disappear.
3:02 PM. Falling apart.
3:49 PM. Gone.  Yes, once again, the clearing before the storm.  A storm is approaching, 100% chance of rain within 10 h, and yet, the clouds are disappearing!  This is a common here; a dry slot in the moisture field OFTEN precedes storms here.  To some folks it may mislead them into thinking the storm’s a bust.  But not to us CMP’s, who seen this happen over and over again.
5:09 PM. Temperature’s in the low 70s; its getting to be a nicer day by the minute. Where’s that storm?
5:43 PM. Our storm and cold front marches toward us from somewhere over the horizon, though visually you’d never know it.  Wonder if the native Americans knew this odd sequence–probably.

The weather ahead

After the last drops fall today, we’ll suffer through another dry spell and warm up though about the 20th when a major trough passes by.

The End

Oops….  Have cameras ready for a great day of cloud shots once the sun breaks through.

Gray clouds appear over Catalina, then leave

You have to work with what you have.  Imagine a day without crime, or an exploding balloon,  traffic accident, tax folderol, etc.,  and the television news for that day is cancelled, not worthy of air time, maybe replaced with one of our favorite PBS programs, like, “The Desert Speaks”?

Had a nice lenticular a couple of days ago, in case you missed it.

Wasn’t up much that day; you know, the FLU!  Its out there.
7:54 AM yesterday morning. Stratocumulus cloud tops Samaniego Ridge.  Was actually hoping that the encroaching clouds would be cold enough to form ice even though models said no, tops would be warmer than -10° C  (14°F) or so.  However, in windy situations such as we had atop the Catalina Mountains, clouds like these can leave water in the form of “rime ice” on trees.  How pathetic is that; we can only hope for some mountain sky water1 through riming, not actual precipitation?
8:34 AM. Looks pretty good over there beyond Eagle Crest.   Maybe there will be some ice in this deck after all… Or is that dust under that distant band?
8:45 AM. Wonder if something special is going on over there, maybe I should know about?
8:46 AM. Not much going on directly upwind, though Tucson Mountains obscured in dust. Of course, any cloud band is going to propagate, spread in, from the NW yesterday.
9:49 AM. Looking better. Now, if only some ice would form…
10:01 AM. Almost looks like precip. but its not.  Note clouds still topping Sam Ridge, likely lots of rime icing gong on higher up, toward the middle and top of this shallow layer since the droplets are too small at cloud base to produce riming.  Higher up in the clouds like these, the droplets will reach the size (about about 15 um in diameter) where they are large enough to collide with objects and freeze onto them.
10:01 AM. A closer look at a dust-infused crespucular ray that almost looked like fine precip.
11:56 AM. The Stratocumulus deck is thinning, but an anomalous darkening  has appeared, either due to the shadow of a lenticular cloud or a large space vehicle on top of the lower Stratocu.  Note that the clouds have now lifted above even Ms. Mt. Lemmon.  No more riming to add to our aquifers.  No actual  precip was recorded in the county.
12:38 PM. The clearing side of our little cloud band as it slud by, the complete clearing zone to the right.  Tucson Mountains still mostly obscured in dust, though it really wasn’t that windy here.
1:41 PM. Waiting for the electrician…. If you can find a sunny porch out of the wind, its amazing how pleasant 52°F can be. BTW, if you need an electrician badly, but it conflicts with open heart surgery, its best to cancel the open heart surgery; you may never get another chance to get a licensed, bonded electrician out, but you can always have open heart surgery on another day.  The above, our former home, rented for so long, now in the process of being sold.  (boohoo).

No real change apparent in the drought pattern.

The End

Some recent pretty clods

Been busy as a briefly unretired science worker (gave a stressful talk at a university last week) and thought maybe a lot of usual drop ins to this site might not anymore.   So, in the title for today,  am reaching out to a new demographic: persons interested in congealed soil matter.  They might later, after stopping by, discover a new interest; that in clouds, pretty ones.  Most of the cheap tricks I try like this don’t have any effect, though.  Oh, well.

Let us go forward after backing up:

November 3rd

8:01 November 3rd. OK, I’m way behind! Flock of Cirrus uncinus overruns Catalina and environs.
8:02 AM. Looking SW from Catalina. So pretty with the deep blue skies we have at this time of year due to sun’s lower angle in the sky.
9:16 AM. Look how different, even unreal, that flock of Cirrus looked when leaving us. Looking NE toward the Charouleau Gap.

But the Cirrus kept coming and more odd sights were seen:

10:06 AM. Two levels of Cirrus can be seen. This vertical white patch is likely a few thousand feet lower than the crossing faint strands center and right side,  which are likely above 30,000 feet above the ground.  The heavier Cirrus (spissatus) in the distance is also lower than the strands.

Heavier Cirrus, increasing and lowering to Altostratus finished off the day as a heavy shield of middle and upper clouds raced toward southern Arizona from the Pacific:

3:08 PM. Cirrus spissatus here, too splotchy in coverage to be Altostratus. Nice subtle lighting effect on the Catalinas…

 

“Due to time constraints, we move ahead in the action…”

November 4th

7:27 AM. Classic A row of Altocumulus floccus and castellanus underlie an Altostratus layer.  Where the bases have disappeared, at right, are termed “floccus”, if you care.
8:00 AM. Altostratus, some lower Altocumulus  castellanus with graniteen boulders and a coupla saguaros.
8:59 AM. Bird collective watches in hopes that the darkening, lowering Altostratus layer  (with some Altocumulus) will bring rain. It didn’t. “Dang”, we say here.
4:51 PM. All of the higher layers were gone, leaving only a lowest, but thin scattered to broken Stratocumulus clouds. 🙁  All in all, it was a good day for hiking and other outdoor activities.

Sunday, November 5th:

6:01 AM. Flock of CIrrus uncinus and spissatus again advances on Catalina.
6:21 AM. a closer view. Here they seem to be uncinus with fibratus. Stratocumulus clouds were topping the Catalinas, too, indicating more humidity than we have been seeing most of the past few weeks.
8:38 AM. I thought this was an especially spectacular scene, this lattice of Cirrus racing toward us.  Hope you did, too.

4:26 PM. Perhaps the brightest example of iridescence I have ever seen! Just spectacular for a few seconds in this patch of Cirrocumulus. Iridescence is caused by diffraction around the tiny of droplets, less than 10 microns in diameter, as are present when a cloud just forms.

5:09 PM. Seeing this scene of Altocumulus, you KNEW you were in for a superb sunset.  It didn’t disappoint.
5:39 PM.
5:40 PM. There is no virga here.
5:44 PM. Super!

The weather just ahead

The Wildcat Weather Department model is foretelling perhaps a measurable rain event between this afternoon and tomorrow morning at 7 AM!  Heavier rain is foretold to be south of us, but just a slight error would mean something more substantial.  Hoping for error!  A sky covering Altostratus layer is just about assured with a lowering tendency as the day goes on.  Should see some Altocu , too, a day a lot like last Saturday.

The End

Clouds continue to beguile, even when they’re tiny

As here,  just to reinforce that assertion a bit.  Its a link to a recent blog by my cloud-obsessed friend and author, Maria Mudd Ruth.  I strongly recommend buying a few of her books.  Really,  I do!

But in viewing our deep blue skies, pocked with little fluffy Cumulus clouds over the past two or three days, you would not need convincing that even tiny clouds are beguiling, a wonderful attribute for a planet to have.  Having mountains on a planet is great, too, and watching the interplay of clouds and their shadows on them is a never ending pleasure.  We’re pretty lucky when you think about it to be on a planet like this one.  Hope you think so, too.

No rain ahead, glumly, though some sprinkles are out there this morning as frontal cloud band passes over.  Just a little too high off the ground for real rain.  And the cloud tops aren’t quite cold enough to form much ice, too.  Those cloud tops get colder going to the NE, and so higher terrain up thataway (e.g., Show Low) are getting some light rain this morning.  Right now, there’s a little sprinkle just beyond Romero Canyon, so we got a little ice this morning in them clouds.

What was interesting is that I never saw no ice yesterday, to continue the slang of rock and roll, in another cheap attempt to reach out to another demographic.   The clouds were just a bit too warm for ice-formation, tops running in the -4°C to -5°C range according to yesterday afternoon’s Banner University of Arizona’s balloon sounding.  Some may have bulged up to nearly -10°C, but still not quite there.  I looked constantly for signs of ice and never saw none, and neither did you, of course.

The U of AZ balloon sounding for yesterday afternoon, released about 3:30 PM AST.
The U of AZ balloon sounding for yesterday afternoon, released about 3:30 PM AST, courtesy of MeteoStar., I hope.

Bases were cool, at about 4°C, at 11, 000 feet above sea level, or 8,000 feet above Catalina.  Tops, about 15,000 feet above sea level.  So, they were running around 3,000-4,000 feet thick with no ice.   This was a situation where dropping dry ice  into those clouds would have created snowfall, then sprinkles, that would not have fallen naturally.  Doubtful anything would have reached the ground anywhere near our elevation, however, but up  at Ms. Mt. Lemmon, something would have likely even measured from doing that far enough upwind.

In summary, yes, there are some fairly rare times you can get some precip out of clouds by seeding them and yesterday was one of them1.

Today the clouds are thicker, drop sizes therefore larger in those tops of a cloud band similar to the one we had yesterday evening.  As drop sizes increase, the temperature at which they freeze also increases.  Well, at least that’s what we found over and over again at the U of Washington.

The balloon sounding launched about 3:30 AM this morning from the U of AZ. Our cloud band is almost twice as thick as it was yesterday afternoon as bases lowered and tops went up some.
The balloon sounding launched about 3:30 AM this morning from the U of AZ. Our cloud band is almost twice as thick as it was yesterday afternoon as bases lowered and tops went up some.  The sounding, too, went right up into the middle of that band, now exiting the area.

The result, some ice has formed even though they’re hardly colder than just -9°C or -10°C (14°F).  Check the radar:

From Wundermaps, 6:219 AM.
From Wundermaps, 6:219 AM.

Here are some cloud shots from the past couple of days.  Should be some more great scenes today:

The last summer Cumulonimbus harrah. Goodbye sweet summer thunderstorms. :(
The last summer Cumulonimbus harrah. Goodbye sweet summer thunderstorms. 🙁  See you next year.
10:37 AM September 19th
10:37 AM September 19th.  A field of Cumulus fractus, those shred clouds from which even might oaks can form.  Not this day, though.
10:58 AM, September 19th still, way back there still. Hope you remember this scene. We now have a Cumulus mediocris. Work hard in life, try not to be "medocris."
10:58 AM, September 19th still, way back there still. Hope you remember this scene. We now have a Cumulus mediocris. Work hard in life, try not to be “medocris” if you can.
12:44 PM. Got pretty cloudy that day for a few minutes, then cleared off.
12:44 PM. Got pretty cloudy that day for a few minutes, then cleared off.
3:10 PM. After it cleared off and the clouds went small again, we had some nice shadow effects on our mountains.
3:10 PM. After it cleared off and the clouds went small again, we had some nice shadow effects on our mountains.
Due to time constraints, we now move ahead in the action.  Well, its not really “action” is it?

Well, not that much, just a day ahead….

4:02 PM, September 20th. Oh, so pretty Cumulus humilis against that deep blue sky. Thanks you, "Cosmic Muffen" or "Hairy Thunderer." (Allusions to "Deteriorata" by Firesign Theatre.
4:02 PM, September 20th. Oh, so pretty Cumulus humilis against that deep blue sky. Thanks you, “Cosmic Muffen” or “Hairy Thunderer1.”
4:48 PM, September 20th. A cloud street is launched off the Tucson mountains and sails over the Oro Valley and Catalina.
4:48 PM, September 20th. A cloud street is launched off the Tucson mountains and sails over the Oro Valley and Catalina.
4:49 PM. More dramatic shadows, ones produced by that cloud street.
4:49 PM. More dramatic shadows, ones produced by that cloud street.
6:24 PM, September 20th. The fading sun colorizes those last of the Cumulus.
6:24 PM, September 20th. The fading sun colorizes those last of the Cumulus.
3:15 PM, September 21st, another breezy day with small Cumulus.
3:15 PM, September 21st, another breezy day with small Cumulus.  I hope you like to see small Cumulus over and over again…

Moving ahead to yesterday and the day long cloud band….

6:19 AM, yesterday. That band of Stratocumulus had sprung up overnight, providing a really pretty sunrise color. Hope you saw it. Only lasted a couple of minutes.
6:19 AM, yesterday. That band of Stratocumulus had sprung up overnight, providing a really pretty sunrise color. Hope you saw it. Only lasted a couple of minutes.
7:17 AM. Not much upwind at this point but wind.
7:17 AM. Not much upwind at this point but wind.
12:05 PM. Some Altocumulus began to appear upwind of us, eventually merging in a band.
12:05 PM. Some Altocumulus began to appear upwind of us, eventually merging in a band.
1:48 PM. Our band is really beginning to consolidate at this time (looking S on Equestrian Trail Road, aka, Lost Hubcap Trail Road).
1:48 PM. Our band is really beginning to consolidate at this time (looking S on Equestrian Trail Road, aka, Lost Hubcap Trail Road).
5:10 PM. Bases had lowered to about 8,000 feet above us from the afternoon shot. Because the air way above us was cooling, the cloud began to sprout Cumulus towers. Looked for ice but none seen, so no virga around either, though it sure looked ready for that.
5:10 PM. Bases had lowered to about 8,000 feet above us from the afternoon shot. Because the air way above us was cooling, the cloud began to sprout Cumulus towers. Looked for ice but none seen, so no virga around either, though it sure looked ready for that.  Without ice, you’d be thinking tops must be warmer than -10°C (14°F).
5:52 PM. Our band remains in full display and will overnight. I would deem these clouds Stratocumulus, hold the ice.
5:52 PM. Our band remains in full display and will overnight. I would deem these clouds Stratocumulus, hold the ice.
6:09 PM. You can't have a better scene than our Catalina mountains highlighted by the setting sun. We are so lucky to be here!
6:09 PM. You can’t have a better scene than our Catalina mountains highlighted by the setting sun. We are so lucky to be here!
6:27 PM. Still going after all those hours, but not doing anything, just sitting around up there looking pretty.
6:27 PM. Still going after all those hours, but not doing anything, just sitting around up there looking pretty.

For the best weather discussion, see Bob M.

The End.

—————————–

1Allusions to “Deteriorata” by The National Lampoon Theater.

Your cloud dairy for May 9th

Haha, most readers won’t even notice! But maybe some cow-centric, instead of cloud-centric, folks will drop by, raising the worth of this blog to above $35 if sold….that according to a “biz” site.

Had a rainbow yesterday. Hope you noticed. It was pretty early and overhead west. I think the clouds did not have ice in them. The rain echoes were not showing up on the radar, suggesting the beam went over the tops. Sounding suggested tops might have been as cool as -5°C.    In any case, the drops were able to tip the bucket a couple of more times, and along with yesterday afternoon’s brief, light rain showers our total has climbed to 0.37 inches for the storm. Not bad, though as in money, you always want more.

These storm breakup days are always our prettiest, and that’s often what this site is about, being pretty. Yesterday had some fabulous scenes;  couldn’t stop shuttering cam. It is a real neurotic compulsive behavior pattern, as afflicts some of us cloud and storm-centric folk. Check Mr. Olbinsky’s work; his work goes beyond phenomenal whether you want a wedding photographer or want to see a storm chasing video.  But it takes that kind of eccentric energy to be special, to stand out as he does.

Here, though, we let the storms and cloud scenes, such as they are, hope for the best, and let them come to us….  Kind of a lazy storm chaser’s attitude.

DSC_3677
5:49 AM. I really do think this rain came out of clouds that had no ice…maybe 70% sure.
DSC_3682
6:27 AM. Stratus fractus springing to life as Cumulus clouds lining the sides of Sam Ridge (Samaniego). Showed how much instability, the ease of which the slightly warmer air in these clouds could jut upward yesterday
DSC_3689
6:49 AM. Just pretty and so green after the rain.
DSC_3691
6:50 AM. Same scene, focusing in on a highlight.
DSC_3694
7:01 AM. More prettiness in a highlighted baby turret.
DSC_3696
7:01 AM. In case you missed it, here it is again, a little zoomed.
DSC_3713
9:03 AM. Rise of the Cumulonimbus capillatus incus (has anvil). This scene had a lot of portent for the day. You knew more would be forming, maybe drift over us later.
9:33 AM. I thought this was a pretty neat scene, though its just a cloud shadow lining up with the rise of the Catalina Mountains.
9:33 AM. I thought this was a pretty neat scene, though its just a cloud shadow lining up with the rise of the Catalina Mountains.
DSC_3717
9:36 AM. Hmmmm. What the HECK is happening now? Low center was off in the direction, headed for us, with still cooler air aloft. But where are the Cumulonimbus clouds that should come with it? (They formed rapidly, but later.)
DSC_3733
2:23 PM. By mid-afternoon, things were swell all around, lots of Cumulonimbus clouds. They seemed to fade, though, as they marched toward Catalinaland, as this complex did. The rather sharp line in the lower part of the photo, and beyond which you can see distant clouds, is where the melting level was. This is often appears to be the “cloud base” but its really not in the sense of having cloud droplets. If you were to fly in it, all you would see is rain and melting snow just below this line, and just snowflakes above it. If the whole sky was covered in this, we’d call it Nimbostratus, and say the base was at that melting level.
3:42 PM. Another pretty major band appears to be headed this way. DIdn't make it.
3:42 PM. Another pretty major band appears to be headed this way, rotating around that low center, shifting northward.  Didn’t make it.
DSC_3753
6:35 PM. Somewhat promising that a nice dark line and heavy shafts were out there, thinking they might shift northward again. Nope. Fizzled.

Still cold aloft, so having some nice Cumulus today is in the bag, the early Stratocumulus devolving into Cu, that is.

The End

Sprinkly clouds passed over during night; check dusty cars for drop craters and evidence of a trace of rain

Honestly, I gave up on the chance of rain overnight into this morning at sunset yesterday due to the absolutely clear skies.   And, like you, woke up to not one cloud within a 100 miles!  How could this be, given the synoptic situation?  Started slicing apples for some humble pie, but then, when looking at a radar and cloud loop (this one from IPS MeteoStar) saw that lower clouds had magically erupted to our west before midnight,  and by the time they got here in the early morning hours, had little showers coming out of them!

I did not park my own dusty car out from the carport, either. I thought I would at LEAST see a pile of clouds on Ms. Lemmon, too, this morning!  Sure wrong there.  Here are a couple of images from what has to be considered a tiny weather miracle:

201704290745_SWR 201704290830_SWR

Chances of rain increasing (imagine!), for  just over a week from now as actual model outputs begin reflecting what spaghetti (the many outputs) was indicating, i.e., a big upper trough in the West-Great Basin area.  At the time that spaghetti was indicating that, the actual model outputs were not, indicating that they were outliers.

Check this out from last night.  Since this model output is more in agreement with that crazy spaghetti plot, it inherently has more credibility, and is likely not an outlier model run.   That what the NOAA spaghetti factory is used for, getting a handle on those runs that might be wild, and those that are more likely to verify.

Its valid on the morning of May 8th and shows a trough coming out of the Pacific ahead of the one from the Pac NW, shown at this time over northern Cal.  The hope here would be that the one from the SW would have a generous amount of sub-tropical clouds with rain in them.

2017042900_WST_GFS_500_HGT_WINDS_228

DSC_3480
6:04 AM, 28 April. About the only lenticular seen. Oh, well, there were a few weak ones off to the north, but that was it. CIrrostratus is the higher cloud, too thin to be Altostratus.

Cloud shots will be posted later this morning of the next day….. (i didn’t get to is as I had planned)

DSC_3490
12:52 PM, April 28. There can hardly be a better shot of Stratocumulus. While it looks dark, it was partly because of the Cirrostratus or Altostratus overcast; it was that thick, not thick enough to reach temperatures where ice would form in it, and rain would come out.  And no rain did, and soon this whole overcast was gone, as was the higher Cirrostratus that shadowed it.
4:09 PM. No ice came out of these clouds, but they did allow those beautiful sunny highlights on our Catalina Mountains.
4:09 PM. No ice came out of these clouds, but they did allow those beautiful sunny highlights on our Catalina Mountains.
DSC_3510
4:40 PM. Its remarkable how after weeks and weeks of no rain that so much of our mountains and desert vegetation remains as green as it is.

Yesterday afternoon, the 29th.  Here’s what shallow, icy clouds look like, reflecting the unusually cold air above us.

4:44 PM, April 29th.
4:44 PM, April 29th.
DSC_3516
5:43 AM this morning. In an unusually timely post, here’s a leftover ice puff from yesterday over there beyond Charouleau Gap. You’d be guessing, if you cared, that the tops of both of these icy clouds was colder than about -20° C (4°F) since there seems to be so much ice.

 

The End

PS:  Chance of rain still holding for the 8th.  See below for new depiction of big “cutoff” vortex over AZ from last evening’s model run:

Valid at 5 PM, May 8th.
Valid at 5 PM, May 8th.

Catalina WY progress report; Cal WY update, too, since I grew up in Cal

I thought you’d like to see this:

As of the end of February 2017. We're pretty average, but it took some "heavy lifting" in December and January to get there.
As of the end of February 2017.  You can see were right about at the average for the Water Year,, but it took some “heavy lifting” in December and January to get there.

Doesn’t look promising for much rain here in Catalina in March, however.  No rain in sight through the next 10 days at least.

Let’s check our 7 inches with what’s happening upwind, say, in CALIFORNIA, and see if there’s been any drought relief there, through February,  via the CNRFC:

California water year totals through the end of February 2017. Note one station in the central Califorina coastal range is already over 100 inches!
California water year totals through the end of February 2017. Note one station in the central Califorina coastal range is already over 100 inches!  There are 20 stations already over 100 inches as can be seen from the table at right.  March looks to have substantial rains north of SFO, which will add appreciably to those highest totals.  Amazing!  You can go to the CNRFC and expand these interactive maps, btw.

As you are likely to know from many media stories last year, Cal was in a drought siege of five straight years,  with but got a little relief last year in the northern part thanks to help from  the giant Niño, one of the strongest ever.

Alas, it was one that failed to deliver as the big rain producer for the south half of Cal and the SW in general as was expected.

In case you’ve forgotten how bad things were in Cal, let us look back at what was being said, those horrific appearing drought maps,  and also how hopeful were were at the time  that the Big Niño would take a bit bite out of drought.  This is a really good article:

https://www.climate.gov/news-features/event-tracker/how-deep-precipitation-hole-california

Then, when the Big Niño faded away like maple syrup on a stack of buckwheat pancakes last spring and summer,  we were surely doomed for more dry years.  And, for a time, the dreaded cold tongue of water in the eastern equatorial region, the so-called, La Niña, started to develop, which would be no help at all for  a good rain season like a Big Niño is, usually.

The Niña faded away, too, to nothing as the winter went on, so we really didn’t have much going on in the tropical Pacific to help us figure out what kind of winter rainfall regime we were going to have om 2016-17.  Not having anything going on meant winter rainfall could go either way, a difficult to figure out situation for season forecasters.

In retrospect it is pretty astounding how big a signal must have been out there SOMEWHERE that this winter was going to be one for the history books on the West Coast in general, and in particular, for Californians.  Californians saw their drought chewed up and spit out in a single winter, including snow packs so high the height of some mountain peaks have been revised.  (I’m kidding.)

No one saw such an astounding winter coming.

This winter sure makes one think of the QBO (Quasi-biennenial Oscillation, one up there in the Stratosphere where there’s almost no air (haha, well, practically none)…  Did the QBO have a role in this astounding winter;  was there a delay in the effects of the Big Niño even without a bunch of convection in the eastern Pac tropics?  Doesn’t seem that could be right…

But, William “Bill” Lau, U of Maryland scientist,  reported some statistical evidence of  such a lag way back in ’88 due to a QBO connection of some kind and ENSO, no physical cause could be discerned, however,  not yet,  anyway.  Lau, 1988, is reprised below for readers who want to go deep:

Annual cycle, QBO, SO on global precip J Geophys Res 1988ocr

Sure has looked like the Big Niño WY we expected last year!

Some recent clouds; after all, this is CLOUD maven, not RAIN maven:

I’ve been kind of holding out on you.  I dropped my camera and busted it.  Its no fun taking pictures when you don’t have a real camera.  Still doesn’t work right, but take these anyway:

March 4th, afternoon. Hope you logged this; the rarely seen CIrrus castellanus (almost "congestus" in size) or, informally, "Cumulo-cirrus."
March 4th, afternoon. Hope you logged this; the rarely seen CIrrus castellanus (almost “congestus” in size) or, informally, “Cumulo-cirrus.”
Poppies are out, btw. Nice display on "Poppy Hils" just across and southwest of the Pima County Pistol Club, off Bowman.
Poppies are out, btw, in case you haven’t noticed. Nice display on “Poppy Hils” just across and southwest of the Pima County Pistol Club, off Bowman.
DSC_2499
March 4th, late afternoon. Nothing terrifically special in this tangle of Cirrus spissatus (“Cis spis” to cloud folk) but I thought it was just a really nice scene

Moving to the next day, Sunday, that REALLY windy day:

March 5, Sunday morning 6:13 AM. Altocumulus lenticularis alerts cloudwise folk to the possibility of windy conditions although it was already windy.
March 5, Sunday morning 6:13 AM. Altocumulus lenticularis alerts cloudwise folk to the possibility of windy conditions although it was already windy.
3:55 PM, March 5th. After a day of solid Altostratus overcast with underlying Cumulus and Stratocumulus, a layer of Altocumulus began to move in to add a little more interest to the sky.
3:55 PM, March 5th. After a day of solid Altostratus overcast with underlying Cumulus and Stratocumulus, a layer of Altocumulus began to move in to add a little more interest to the sky.
3:57 PM. Looking to the north revealed that some of the lower Cumulus/Stratocumulus complexes reached heights where ice could form. That smooth region on the bottom and right side of the cloud is a fall of ice from this cloud with a RW- (text for "light rainshower") if you like to text stuff) right below that. This is not a lot of ice and so you'd be thinking the cloud barely made that ice-forming temperature.
3:57 PM. Looking to the north revealed that some of the lower Cumulus/Stratocumulus complexes reached heights where ice could form. That smooth region on the bottom and right side of the cloud is a fall of ice from this cloud with a RW- (text for “light rainshower”) if you like to text stuff) right below that. This is not a lot of ice and so you’d be thinking the cloud barely made that ice-forming temperature.  CMP doesn’t think it was caused by an ice fallout from that higher layer, which sometimes can happen.  Let’s look at the most timely sounding, just to check.  From the real Cowboys at the University of Wyoming, this:
Ann 2017030600.72274.skewt.parc
The TUS sounding which I only now just saw, showing a vast separation between the lower Stratocumulus and the higher layers of Altocumlus and Altostratus on top. Note, too, that over TUS the tops of the lower cloud is not quite at -10°C the temperature we start to look for ice formation in AZ. However, our clouds were NW of that balloon sounding, and it would have been that tiny bit colder, and tops were also lifted some when they passed over the Tortolitas earlier, meaning that the tops of this complex were colder than -10° C (14° F) at some point.

Wow, too much information….after a hiatus in blogging I feel like that  Oroville Dam in California, metaphorically overflowing with too much hand-waving information.

6:03 PM, March 5. Its still real windy. Line of virga brought a few drops when it passed overhead at 6:30 PM.
6:03 PM, March 5. Its still real windy. Line of virga brought a few drops when it passed overhead at 6:30 PM.
6:04 PM. Nice dramatic shot toward Marana as the backside of the middle cloud layer approached allowing the sun to shine through.
6:04 PM. Nice dramatic shot toward Marana as the backside of the middle cloud layer approached allowing the sun to shine through.
6:09 PM. Virga getting closer. May have to park car outside to make sure I don't miss any drops!
6:09 PM. Virga getting closer. May have to park car outside to make sure I don’t miss any drops!
6:22 PM. SW-NE oriented virga strip about to pass overhead. Drops fell between 6:30 and 6:40 PM, but you had to be outside to notice, which you would have been as a proper CMJ eccentric.
6:22 PM. SW-NE oriented virga strip about to pass overhead. Drops fell between 6:30 and 6:40 PM, but you had to be outside to notice, which you would have been as a proper CMJ eccentric.  You would have WANTED that trace of rain report, maybe slackers would not have observed.
6:30 PM. Climax; the great sunset allowed by that backside clearing.
6:30 PM. Climax; the great sunset allowed by that backside clearing.

The End, at last!