Category Archives: Stupendous storms

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:

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7:21 AM. Altostratus sunrise. Virga is highlighted showing the precipitating nature of Altostratus. Amount of virga can vary.
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7:31 AM. Same kind of view, different colors.
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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.)

 

 

Sunrise, sunset colors drench Gatalina, AZ; Cal storms reach epic proportions

We’re often confused with the California island, Catalina, and even places in Spain.   Google “Catalina” and see if I am lying again. Oh, maybe that was Catalonia, SP…

Nevertheless, isn’t it time to think about a new name for our “Census Designated Place”, Catalina?  In fact, at one time, each Catalina island and our Catalina, each had a marina to further confuse things by adding superficial similarities….

Think about it.

Some sunrise scenes among too many available to the writer from his camera card:

Let's look at the Tortolita Mountains, drenched in sunlight.
Let’s look at the Tortolita Mountains.
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Cirrocumulus on the fade.
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Highlighted Cirrocumulus.
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About as complex as a patch of Cirrocumulus could be. It did seem there were TWO levels of Cirrocu here, which might help explain criss-crossing patterns.
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Nice Altocumulus lenticularis in the usual spot downwind of Lemmon when the flow is from the W-SW up there.
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Wide angle view of our spectacular sunrise. How you experienced it live.

Now, for sunset color:

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5:47 PM. Will think of something later.
5:47 PM. Will think of something later.

As you may know, there is some violent weather hitting the West Coast, California in particular.  Let’s see what the Reno office of the NWS has to say about the incoming storm:

“…BLIZZARD WARNING IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 AM PST WEDNESDAY…

...WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 10 AM WEDNESDAY TO 4 AM
PST THURSDAY...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN RENO HAS ISSUED A BLIZZARD
WARNING, WHICH IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 AM PST WEDNESDAY. THE WINTER
STORM WARNING IS NOW IN EFFECT FROM 10 AM WEDNESDAY TO 4 AM PST
THURSDAY.

* TIMING: DANGEROUS BLIZZARD CONDITIONS DUE TO HEAVY SNOW AND
  STRONG WINDS WILL CONTINUE TODAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING.
  PERIODS OF MODERATE TO HEAVY SNOW WILL CONTINUE THROUGH
  WEDNESDAY NIGHT.

SNOW ACCUMULATIONS THROUGH THURSDAY MORNING: 5 TO 10 FEET ABOVE 7000 FEET WITH 3 TO 7 FEET AT LAKE TAHOE LEVEL.

(Note:  The large font size, the capitalization, suggest, as we know, that the writer is screaming, which I am.)

* WINDS: SOUTHWEST 20 TO 30 MPH WITH GUSTS TO 60 MPH THROUGH
  WEDNESDAY MORNING. SIERRA RIDGE GUSTS OVER 100 MPH.

* SNOW LEVELS: BELOW LAKE LEVEL...MAY BRIEFLY RISE TO 6500 FEET
  THIS AFTERNOON BEFORE FALLING AGAIN.

* IMPACTS: DANGEROUS LIFE THREATENING BLIZZARD CONDITIONS WITH
  NEAR ZERO VISIBILITY WILL EXIST FOR TRAVEL AND OUTDOOR
  ACTIVITIES WITH HEAVY SNOW ACCUMULATION ON ALL SIERRA ROADS.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THIS IS A LIFE THREATENING SITUATION. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TRAVEL!
ROAD CREWS AND FIRST RESPONDERS MAY NOT BE ABLE TO RESCUE YOU.
STAY INDOORS UNTIL THE SNOW AND WIND SUBSIDE. EVEN A SHORT WALK
COULD BE DEADLY IF YOU BECOME DISORIENTED1."

As we know, extremely heavy snows in the Sierras can trigger cannabalism, It is our sincere wish that those affected by this severe storm curb his or her appetite for humans, i.e,  that cannibalism does not break out in the Reno-Tahoe area, or ANYWHERE (capitalization for emphasis) in the Sierras during this terrible storm or its aftermath.

The End
————————–
1Thanks to Prof.  (emeritus) Roger Pielke, Sr., Colo State, for passing this warning along.  His son, a great scientist as well, btw, has the exact same name, and that’s why THIS Roger goes by “senior.”  Thought you’d like to know that.

Eruption! CDO ran big last night (updated with golf balls shown in the wash))

This just in

Just back from a horsey ride with Zeus the horse.  Rode into the CDO to see the surprising view that it had run bank-to-bank last night after that mighty cell passed by along the foothills.  In the wash, were golf ball-sized golf balls scattered throughout the wash, indicating that it hit the planned community of Saddlebrooke with it many golf courses very hard.  No golfers were found.

The Pima County ALERT gauges really did not call out that such a flow would occur from precip data around here, the greatest amount being barely over an inch, and its likely that such a flow in the CDO, bank to bank would need 2-3 inch dump in its watershed.

This morning around 10 AM in the CDO south of the E Golder Ranch Drive bridge,
This morning around 10 AM in the CDO south of the E Golder Ranch Drive bridge,

———-end of updated material unless I get more updated——

 

After an afternoon of “steady-state” Cumulus congestus and small Cumulonimbus clouds trailed northward from the Catalina Mountains, the “Mighty Kong” erupted about 5 PM providing one of the most intimidating, yet majestic and beautiful scenes of the summer rain season;  this or any.

Cloud Maven Person was indoors drowning his sorrows concerning what appeared to be a a grotesquely failed forecast of a good rain day (“about half an inch”) here in Catalina in flavorful Indian cuisine when the unexpected began to take place outside.  So, the photo record is incomplete for this  event.  “CMP” had given up on the day.

Just measured in NWS-Style 8-inch gauge and CoCoRahs gauge:

0.12 inches was our total here in the Heights.

And, the photos aren’t quite as good as they should be, slightly out of focus since CMP didn’t adjust his camera for the dark scenes his was seeing.  Oh, me.  Missed the great sunrise, too, due to not having memory stick in the camera!  Oh, me.

The day started propitiously enough with a ton of clouds, and a line of weak Cumulonimbus heading for us from the S and SW. A small Cb can be seen on the left.
6:48 AM. The day started propitiously enough with a ton of clouds, and a line of weak Cumulonimbus heading for us from the SW -W. horizon.   A small Cb ahead of this line can be seen on the left.
7:14 AM. Looking at this scene, and pondering a day of these, "CMP" is wondering just how many inches of rain we might have,
7:14 AM. Looking at this scene, and pondering a day and evening of these, “CMP” is wondering just how many inches of rain we might have,

However this line faded, bringing only sprinkles, a trace of rain to Catalina, and was followed by a huge clearing and sunny skies, thought to be a good thing at the time.  Soon, gigantic Cumulonimbus clouds would erupt to over the mountains all quadrants…  Nope.  By mid-afternoon, only Cumulus congestus had formed with an occasional bit of ice and rain visible, all to the north.

2:08 PM. Cumulus congestus repeatedly formed in the lee of the Catalinas. Occasionally one produced a shower.
2:08 PM. Cumulus congestus repeatedly formed in the lee of the Catalinas. Occasionally one produced a shower.  The clouds are moving from right to left in southerly flow, probably pinching together in the lee of the Catalina Mountain “sky island” as happens in the lee of real islands.
4:21 PM. Another nice Cumulus congestus, but where's are the Cumulonimbus clouds, the big line coming in from the S and SW? Pretty much threw in the towel, gave up except to document for purposes of training a little conversion from water to ice visual lesson in one of these turrets that climbed just high enough to convert.
4:21 PM. Another nice Cumulus congestus, but where’s are the Cumulonimbus clouds, that big line of them coming in from the S and SW? Pretty much threw in the towel, gave up except to document for purposes of training a little conversion from water to ice visual lesson in one of these turrets that climbed just high enough to convert.
4:25 PM. Thus in a series is just 5 min long. Shows how fast the liquid looking cloud can convert to one that is all ice and droplets evaporate due to incursions of dry air, and their molecules race over to that ice crystal next to them. When water and ice are together, its supersaturated with respect to ice, and water molecules head toward any ice around, accumulating as a solid on the ice (a process called deposition), racing over there as a vapor.
4:25 PM. Thus in a series is just 5 min long. Shows how fast the liquid looking cloud can convert to one that is all ice and droplets evaporate due to incursions of dry air, and their molecules race over to that ice crystal next to them. When water and ice are together, its supersaturated with respect to ice, and water molecules head toward any ice around, accumulating as a solid on the ice (a process called deposition), racing over there as a vapor.
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4:27 PM. A very slight change has taken place. The tight cauliflower look due to liquid water “cells” (such as those on the left side where a new turret is rising up) are disappearing, Its not very obvious at all, but you should be thinking even with this little bit of change, “There she goes! It made it to the “glaciation level” today.”

 

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4:28 PM. Underneath this converting turret are ice particles that are just starting to fall out. Can you see the little fibers of ice? Since they don’t have a long water path to fall through, these would be pretty pristine ice, maybe only lightly “rimed” covered in frozen cloud droplets. Notice to here and in the next shot, that they are sloping a bit, indicating they’re not heavy ice particles at all. If you’re really good, you can see that the whole turret has changed, no longer looks “watery”; that tight, hard, cauliflower look has “mellowed”, the crenelations have mostly disappeared. What is a “crenelation” anyway? Better look it up….
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4:30 PM. Its a gonner here, no liquid water is left in that turret. The question we still struggle with is how this conversion happens so fast?

This was the last photo I took until walking out of a local Indian restaurant and exclaiming, “What?  When did this happen?”  It was so clear to the S-W with the exception of a single dissipating Cb that it didn’t even seem worth a photo.

6:04 PM. Hope!
6:04 PM. Hope for that great, meaningful rain in Catalina, though I am in Rancho Vistoso when shooting this.
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6:04 PM. Looking over the Catalina Mountains as much as I could. Look at that nice, solid base!
6:08 PM. Luxurious shafts of rain begin to pour out of solid cloud bases. And look at the one protruding outward toward Rancho V. THis is looking incredible for something humongous to happen. Not sure why this happened? Was there a trigger aloft that was going over this late in the day?
6:08 PM. Luxurious shafts of rain begin to pour out of solid cloud bases. And look at the one protruding outward toward Rancho V. THis is looking incredible for something humongous to happen. Not sure why this happened? Was there a trigger aloft that was going over this late in the day?
6:11 PM. Now, a rainbow to boot!
6:11 PM. Now, a rainbow to boot!  This shot from Honeybee Canyon Park.
6:13 PM. This is becoming something memorable. Losing control, photos every minute or so, but ISO level too low!
6:13 PM. This is becoming something memorable. Losing control, photos every minute or so, but ISO level too low!
6:14 PM. In the meantime a shelf of clouds, Stratocumulus I'd say, spreads westward from the storm.
6:14 PM. In the meantime a shelf of clouds, Stratocumulus I’d say, spreads westward from the storm.  Would they, could they erupt, too?  No, as it turned out.
6:16 PM. As dark fell and the rainbow faded, it was now becoming evident that this late eruption was becoming something special. The rest of the time was spent racing home to be there when it hit Catalina/Sutherland Heights.
6:16 PM. As darkness fell at Honeybee, and the rainbow faded, it was now becoming evident that this odd late eruption was becoming something special. The rest of the time was spent racing home to be there when it hit Catalina/Sutherland Heights.
6:26 PM. Got this shot waiting at the light at Rancho Vistoso Blvd and Oracle Rd. By this shot, I am thinking, unbelievable what has happened! This has become the "Mighty Kong" of summer storms.
6:26 PM. Got this kind of crummy shot waiting at the light at Rancho Vistoso Blvd and Oracle Rd. By this shot, I am thinking, unbelievable what has happened! This has become the “Mighty Kong” of summer storms, and its spreading away from the mountains toward Sutherland Heights!
6:33 PM. Car was blasted going down Golder Ranch Drive by not blowing dust but blowing gravel as outflow winds slammed down Golder Ranch Drive. Estimated gusts 60 mph. Afraid to look at front of car this morning. Also look at how firm, solid that leading base is, telling you that there is a strong updraft feeding into it. More cells will develop downwind. That's Jenny and Matt's house shining in the sun on the hillside.
6:33 PM. Car was blasted going down Golder Ranch Drive by not blowing dust but blowing gravel as outflow winds slammed down Golder Ranch Drive. Estimated gusts 60 mph. Afraid to look at front of car this morning. Also look at how firm, solid that leading base is, telling you that there is a strong updraft feeding into it. More cells will develop downwind. That’s Jenny and Matt’s house shining in the sun on the hillside.
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6:33 PM. Looking from Golder Ranch Drive toward Samaniego Ridge, obscured in rain.

 

Well, as it turned out it was a near hit, only 0.06 inches fell in a violent few minutes of huge drops at my place in Sutherland Heights. From what I saw going by, and needing 0.44 inches on yesterday morning’s forecast of 0.50 inches in Sutherland Heights. about 500 yards farther west for this remarkable, dramatic storm would have given us that amount easily.  1.06 inches was recorded at Cargodera Canyon, NE corner of Cat State Park, and several sites in the foot hills of Catalina toward the mountains area had more than half an inch.

A quickie take on a U of AZ model run from last evening’s global data, has Cumulonimbus clouds developing to our southwest and rolling across Catalina in the afternoon.  This would be, appropriately, considering the definition of the end of our summer rain season as September 30th, very appropriate.

The End.

Hawaii comes to Arizona from Mexico; 5.91 inches at Dan Saddle! 6.43 inches on Mt. Graham!

Former Hurricane ‘Newt’ brought some real humidity, low clouds with unusually warm bases (around 15-20 ° C) to Tucson and Catalina yesterday as its remnant center passed just about over us.

Old Newt was “dragging” here as a tropical storm, aloft it was pretty strong still,  brought near hurricane force winds on isolated, high, mountain tops.  Mt. Hopkins reached 59 kts from the ESE before the “eye” passed nearby  and the winds turned to the west.  And in the Rincon Mountains   a gigantic 6.39 inches was logged, and a site on Mt. Graham reported 6.43 inches.  (Thanks to Mark Albright for these reports.)

While Sutherland Heights received only 0.29 inches in that all day rain, there were eye-popping totals in the Catalinas.    Take a look at some of these, Dan Saddle near Oracle Ridge,  nearing 6 inches in 24 h!  Below, 24 h totals ending at 2 AM this morning, which pretty much covers Newt:

0.28 Golder Ranch Horseshoe Bend Rd in Saddlebrooke
0.59 Oracle Ranger Stati approximately 0.5 mi SW of Oracle
0.24 Dodge Tank Edwin Rd 1.3 mi E of Lago Del Oro Parkway
0.35 Cherry Spring approximately 1.5 mi W of Charouleau Gap
0.79 Pig Spring approximately 1.1 mi NE of Charouleau Gap
0.47 Cargodera Canyon NE corner of Catalina State Park
0.31 CDO @ Rancho Solano Cañada Del Oro Wash NE of Saddlebrooke
0.39 CDO @ Golder Rd Cañada Del Oro Wash at Golder Ranch Rd
4.13 Oracle Ridge Oracle Ridge, approximately 1.5 mi N of Rice Peak
4.25 Mt. Lemmon Mount Lemmon
1.61 CDO @ Coronado Camp Cañada Del Oro Wash 0.3 mi S of Coronado Camp
2.17 Samaniego Peak Samaniego Peak on Samaniego Ridge
5.91 Dan Saddle Dan Saddle on Oracle Ridge
3.54 White Tail Catalina Hwy 0.8 mi W of Palisade Ranger Station
3.66 Green Mountain Green Mountain
1.77 Marshall Gulch Sabino Creek 0.6 mi SSE of Marshall Gulch

Your cloud day yesterday; we don’t talk about today.  That’s for tomorrow.

The day began with one of the great examples of Nimbostratus, that technically a middle -level cloud greeted us at daybreak in what was one of the great examples of the phantom cloud, the true precipitator, usually hidden from view by lower clouds such as Stratocumulus.  But, yesterday morning, there it was,  “Ns” naked as could be.  I know many of you have been looking for a good shot of Nimbostratus to add to your cloud collection for a long time and I could feel the joy out there when I saw it myself.   I only took a couple of shots myself, wish now I had taken more of an extraordinary scene.

6:49 AM. Nimbostratus! Note how high the bottom is, a bottom marked mostly by falling precip, usually snow because steady light rain is so relatively transparent.
6:49 AM. Nimbostratus! Note how high the bottom is, a bottom marked mostly by falling precip, usually snow because steady light rain is so relatively transparent.
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6:52 AM. Looking NNW toward parts of Saddlebrook/Eagle Crest developments. Notice the nice, relatively uniform, blurry gray, the “blurry” look due to falling rain, the perceived bottom, at the melting level, snow is melting into rain. In winter, therefore, the “bottom” or base of Ns, absent lower clouds, appears lower to us because the snow level is lower.

Then, as the light rain here moistened the air hour after hour, low clouds, such as Stratocumulus and Stratus fractus began to form along the mountains, producing some interesting “tracers” of the chaotic air movement over there by the Catalinas under nearly calm conditions.  Newt disappointed in his wind accompaniment.

1:41 PM. Stratus fractus clouds lined Samaniego Ridge, Stratocumulus or weak Cumulus topped it, with a higher layer of Stratocumulus above that.
1:41 PM. Stratus fractus clouds lined Samaniego Ridge, Stratocumulus or weak Cumulus topped it, with a higher layer of Stratocumulus above that,  That highest layer was once the much deeper Nimbostratus, but now has lost its deep part, so its no longer “Ns” since its not precipitating.
1:42 PM. The deep stratocast has departed, the remaining clouds in the foreground are Stratocumulus. The darkening bases on the horizon southwest of Pusch Ridge are where Cumulus and Cumulonimbus clouds filled with rain are piling up, likely due to the light winds coming together down there, maybe in the low center that was once "Newt."
1:42 PM. The deep stratocast has departed, the remaining clouds in the foreground are Stratocumulus. The darkening bases on the horizon southwest of Pusch Ridge are where Cumulus and Cumulonimbus clouds filled with rain are piling up, likely due to the light winds coming together down there, maybe in the low center that was once “Newt.”

 

Later in the day, as the highest, coldest cloud tops associated with those beautiful Nimbostatus clouds moved off to the NE, and our cloudscape became a mix of deeper Stratocumulus with Cumulus and isolated Cumulonimbus cells,  they produced true drizzle and misty, visibility-reducing “warm rain”, that rare type of rain that falls here from clouds lacking in ice, began to be observed producing Hawaiian looking rain on our mountains, delicate shafts of rain whose small drops slanted away from the base.

2:32 PM. Misty drizzle and very light rain! When did this transition happen?
2:32 PM. Misty drizzle and very light rain! When did this transition happen?
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2:32 PM. Hard to tell the difference here in a photo between the pure, naked Ns, and this lower drizzle,misty rain producing cloud likely topping out well below the freezing level. I’ve seen these transitions before, but I missed this one, where a Stratocumulus deck starts to look a little fuzzy on the bottom as the drizzle, very light rain starts to come out (due to tops rising, drops at the top getting larger, at some point crossing over the “Hocking” droplet threshold of larger than about 38 microns in diameter, where they begin sticking together when they hit). Here, the transition from non-precipitating Stratocu to I-don’t know what has already taken place during between the photos at 1:41 and 1:42 PM. Should drizzly, relatively shallow clouds like these now be termed, Nimbostratus? Or Stratocumulus praecipitatio,to emphasis the shallowness? A question definitely for the cloud philosophers to haggle about. No member of the cloud maven club would be punished for calling this scene one showing “Nimbostratus.” However, the drizzle and very light misty rain should have told you it was from a far different cloud structure than that associated with true Nimbostratus, always a deep cloud with ice in it, often topping out at Cirrus levels.

Here, you might well erupt with, “This doesn’t look like Hawaii, but Ocean Shores, Washington, or some other coastal location along the West Coast on a spring day having Stratocumulus with drizzle!”

You would be correct in that eruption.

Below, an example of drizzle drops on your car’s windshield:

3:50 PM. The tiniest drops you can make out on the window are drizzle drops.
3:50 PM. The tiniest drops you can make out on the window are drizzle drops.  I focused on them and you’ll have to click on it to get the full size to be able to see them.  I was so excited to see some more of them!

Later, it was to look little more “Hawaiian”, but if you’ve been to Hilo, you know its mostly cloudy all day.

 

“Warm rain” or rain due to the colllision-coalescence process, is also mainly associated with “clean” conditions, ones low in aerosol particles that can act as cloud condensation nuclei.  The fewer the “CCN” the fewer are the droplets in clouds, and the larger the individual cloud droplets are when saturation and cloud formation occur.    So, by yesterday afternoon, certainly, it was doggone clean here, no doubt aided by washout in that light rain we had.

 

 

Particularly heavy rain with low visibility fell just south of Catalina yesterday afternoon around Ina and Oracle just after 4 pm.  However, that rain did not have those HUGE drops that we see from unloading, deep, Cumulonimbus clouds making this observer think as heavy as it was, it may have been due to a Cumulonimbus topping out at less than 20,000 feet, where the temperature would have been too warm for ice.  The 500 mb temperature yesterday was a tropical-like -3.7° C on the TUS sounding, almost unheard of with a rain situation here.  This, another sign of tropical Newt, since tropical storms/hurricanes have warm cores.

lacking in those huge drops we see in our thunderstorms, this rain likely formed from the “warm rain” process except maybe in the very heaviest rain areas.  It was a special day.

You probably noticed how quiet it was; no thunder around, for one thing, indicating the updrafts in the clouds were not very strong, and that was another indicator that the clouds may not have contained ice.  Without ice, hail and graupel, soft hail, you don’t have lightning.

The lack of lighting, the all day off and on rain, such as you might experience at Hilo, Hawaii, on the windward side, made it seem like you were in Hilo, Hawaii, or one of the other wet spots on the windward side of the Island.

3:27 PM. Another, to me remarkable misty scene reminiscent of oceanic and coastal Stratocumulus with drizzle and light rain
3:27 PM. Another, to me remarkable misty scene reminiscent of oceanic and coastal Stratocumulus with drizzle and light rain
3:52 PM. In the meantime a much deeper cell had developed to the SW of us, down around Ina and Oracle, where an inch and a half of rain fell. Look how the bottom is so close to the ground, like at a temperature near 20° C, about as warm as a cloud base can be here! And the warmer the base, the more water is going up into that cloud! Very exciting scene! Well, they all are to people of cloud maven persuasion.
3:52 PM. In the meantime a much deeper cell had developed to the SW of us, down around Ina and Oracle, where an inch and a half of rain fell. Look how the bottom is so close to the ground, like at a temperature near 20° C, about as warm as a cloud base can be here! And the warmer the base, the more water is going up into that cloud! Very exciting scene! Well, they all are to people of cloud maven persuasion.
4:24 PM. Into the bursting cloud. Still, drops were not HUGE, as you would expect, but extremely numerous, rain rate over an inch an hour in the heaviest parts. Was taken I around Oracle and McGee, and of course, not while driving. That would be crazy. Only looks like it.
4:24 PM. Into the bursting cloud. Still, drops were not HUGE, as you would expect, but extremely numerous, rain rate over an inch an hour in the heaviest parts. Was taken I around Oracle and McGee, and of course, not while driving. That would be crazy. Only looks like it.
6:32 PM. One of the more Hawaiian looking scenes, fine trails of rain dragging along the Catalina Mountains. The slope of the rain coming out absent much wind down low tells you the drops are small, probably near drizzle sizes. And the "shaft" if you will, is diffuse, indicating the small drops are spreading out due to the little turbulence there was making it fuzzy around the edges.
6:32 PM. One of the more Hawaiian looking scenes, fine trails of rain dragging along the Catalina Mountains. The slope of the rain coming out absent much wind down low tells you the drops are small, probably near drizzle sizes. And the “shaft” if you will, is diffuse, indicating the small drops are spreading out due to the little turbulence there was making it fuzzy around the edges.  Maybe, anyway.

Quitting here.

========================

“The Magnificent Seven” (minute storm); 0.13 inches!

A reference to yesterday’s seven minutes of mayhem here in Catalina/Sutherland Heights; alludes to but an old 1980s song by the English punk band, The Clash about really bad weathermen:

“one says sun, one says sleet1.”

Back to weather and yesterday’s microburst with three minutes of sheets of unbelievably heavy rain with rice-sized hail, 50-60 mph gusts, blazed across Sutherland Heights between 4:06 PM and 4:13 PM. It was a memorably violent storm, comparable in those worst 2 minutes or so to anything we see in the summer, and it was completely un-predicted for Catalina the day before  (0% chance of rain here) though showers WERE predicted for the higher terrain of eastern AZ yesterday).  For the full story, see Bob M’s excellent discussion.  For just clouds and stuff, here is OK.

Looks like the Sutherland Heights got the most of anyone anywhere near here.  No reporting station in the Pima County ALERT system in Catalina or in the Catalina Mountains got measurable rain, that’s how local our storm was.  Rarely if ever do you see that happen.

Stuff blew everywhere and I felt lucky not to lose some branches of trees in the yard. Here’s yesterday’s cloud diary.  First the background about what was happening, the TUS balloon sounding of the atmosphere:

The TUS sounding at 5 PM AST (launched around 3:30 PM). Classic inverted sounding associated with downbursts.
The TUS sounding at 5 PM AST (launched around 3:30 PM). Classic inverted sounding associated with downbursts.  Cloud bases are at 0 °C (32 °F) at 14 kft above sea level, or about 11,000 feet above us in Catalinaland.  Lots of turning of the wind, too, helpful for stronger storms.  So, rain and hail had a long ways to fall, cool the air, drag it down and blast the surface.
DSC_3877
9:43 AM. Castellanus of the morning. Patch Cirrus on top. Recall that in my cloud chart it says when you see this cloud, it might rain within 6 to 196 h. Pretty accurate yesterday since it rained about 7 h later here.
DSC_3880
2:11 PM. Cumulus were reaching mediocris stage around here while off to the horizon, Cumulonimbus tops could be seen over the higher terrain of the Mogollon Rim.
DSC_3882
2:11 PM. However, a single Cumulus congestus just past the Tortolita Mountains was transitioning into a little Cumulonimbus. Precip is fall out of that lofted flat side of the cloud to the left of the main base. What a surprise to see that! But it was clearly too small to do anything.

 

DSC_3889
3:00 PM. However, those cloud over there kept shooting up turrets, becoming larger and larger until we had us a full blowed Cumulonimbus and something in the way of a rain shaft (Code 2, transparent, except for that one strand–almost certainly a hail or graupel shaft).
DSC_3897
3:54 PM. While CMP had to be inside for an hour, this surprise happened just to our SW, with rain falling on this side of Pusch Ridge! Wow, WHAT an interesting day this is turning out to be! Not only was there rain, but thunder!  Didn’t think it would get here, well, maybe a sprinkle is all.
DSC_3902
4:02 PM. The rain shaft had gotten denser, and there are tendrils of heavier precip. Thunder is a remarkable every minute. Didn’t look vigorous enough for that kind of electrication rate. What’s really promising now is that darker round blob in the upper right hand corner of the photo indicating new cloud growth. That raining part of the cloud would hardly make it here even if it came right at us, given the light winds up there; needs to be replaced by new cloud growth. Was thinking now, “Gee, it might measure!” No thought of wind yet since that shaft looked kind of weak..
DSC_3904
4:04 PM.
DSC_3905
4:04 PM. Looked down on Catalina to see this remarkable site, a surface dust plume racing through town, rain just behind it! At this point you could see that it was going to blast the Sutherland Heights, so was a pretty exciting moment, and the rain was certainly going to be measurable if the gauge didn’t blow over!
DSC_3907
4:04 PM. Another view of this shaft just before the wind came roaring over the hill in the foreground. From the incredible but very short-lived torrential rain, Sutherland Heights must have gotten one of those narrow strands, but again it would not be one of those you see there, but something dropping out almost on top of us.
DSC_3910
4:06 PM. Here it comes, just over the hill. You can see the surface dust plume advancing north into Catalina where no rain fell!
DSC_3911
4:06 PM. Here’s something you rarely see, dust blowing off the little hills above the Sutherland Wash, Baby Jesus Trail area. Rain was just starting here.
DSC_3922
4:09 PM. Just about the peak of the rain shaft. Horsey retiree Jake shows that the wind si blowing away from the corral. The visibility is relatively high in this extremely heavy rain because the shaft was so tiny.
DSC_3925
4:09 PM. Just seconds later the shaft had moved a few blocks away and down the hill (whitish area running from left to right). Note expanse of blue sky in the background, too.
DSC_3929
4:13 PM. Storm is virtually over and here you can see the amount of water that came of the roof, and some wind damage (cushion out of place). Some cushions went down the hill.
DSC_3934
4:43 PM. The day ended peacefully enough with more Cumulus and distant Cumulonimbus clouds around. Great sunset scene of clouds over the Catalinas, but was enjoying live classic rock music at a friend’s house with some 50 others; no camera.

Too dry today for rain.  Next chance for rain around the 17-19th as that bigger (but maybe drier) cold trough settles in.  Temps will be nice, though.  Lots of intermittent trough action indicated in 06 Z mod run through the rest of May, so May should continue to be pretty interesting and likely devoid of never-ending heat month as sometimes happens here.  This scenario pretty well supported in those crazy NOAA spaghetti (or Lorenz) plots.

The End

—-

Photos not loading in WordPress now, so quiting here, dammitall!  Must go on to other chores now.  Not happy!

 

OK, photos finally went in. Happy now, though too many photos as usual.

———————

1I doubt that happened….  Really, this was a song about people who don’t like to go to work, kind of anti-capitalist which is ironic because it was that system that allowed the boys to make their millions (billions if they had invested wisely into Microsoft in the early 1980s) and gone on to help the world with their billions like Bill and Melinda.

Yesterday’s clouds; and an April Fool’s Day storm to think about

Kind of a dull day yesterday.  Not much to look at.  Some Altocumulus with an interesting, slotted wave pattern to start was about the only interesting thing in the morning.

Then some small Cumulus that continued to agglomerate into masses of dark Stratocumulus, with a little rain to the north of us.  You probably didn’t see it.   The darkness of the clouds was likely due to higher than normal droplet concentrations, which in clouds, causes the bottoms to be darker because the smaller droplets associated with high droplet concentrations causes more sunlight to be reflected off the top of clouds.  But you knew that.

You probably also know that the brief, and weak shafts of rain to the north of us in the afternoon meant that cloud tops were barely reaching the ice-forming level, certainly were mounding ones, analogous to the rolling hills of Ireland rather than ones protruding upward very much like Kilimanjaro or something like that.

Sunset was OK, not great.

A stupendous storm showed up in the fantasy part of the model run, out two weeks, or on April 1st.  That’s a little late for a stupendous storm, but it was fun seeing the computer maps of one.

Today, and not just because I am lazy and have to go right now to feed some horses, I thought I would just insert all these images in whatever way WordPress decided they should go and let you puzzle them out, e.g., name clouds, figure out what time was the photo taken, or, just look at them as a review of your cloud day.

Btw, whilst out on dog walk yesterday, saw that in the Cottonwoods area by the Baby Jesus Trailhead, several 6-9 inch diameter cottonwood tree branches were blown down during Sunday’s windstorm, one younger tree had been topped.  Looked like a very small, supergust burst had done it, maybe less than 50 yards in diameter.

I figure today’s weather is pretty well presented by the NWS, and your favorite weathercaster, so why duplicate good efforts?

10:47 AM.  Altocumulus perlucidus undulatus (has waves in it).
10:47 AM. Altocumulus perlucidus undulatus translucidus  (has waves in it;  is thin).

DSC_47412015031712_CON_GFS_500_HGT_WINDS_3722015031712_CON_GFS_500_HGT_WINDS_3602015031712_CON_GFS_SFC_SLP_THK_PRECIP_WINDS_3722015031712_CON_GFS_SFC_SLP_THK_PRECIP_WINDS_360 DSC_4748 DSC_4738 DSC_4726 DSC_4724

The End, of one of the easiest blogs yet!  Maybe will practice more WordPress chaos in the future!

Phony Cu fractus hint at moderate to severe turbulence aloft; the BS ahead

Immediately, “BS” is for “Big Storm” ahead, not something untoward.

OK, first a piece about yesterday’s unusual clouds at Cirrus levels; you wouldn’t want to be flying in, or underneath these:

1:25 PM.  Suddenly, a patch of phony Cumulus fractus appeared at Cirrus levels!  I wondered how many CMJs were fooled and thought these clouds were just a little higher than Ms. Lemmon's top.
1:25 PM. Suddenly, a patch of phony Cumulus fractus appeared at Cirrus levels! I wondered how many CMJs were fooled and thought these clouds were just a little higher than Ms. Lemmon’s top.
1:25 PM.  Zoomed view of phony Cumulus fractus.
1:25 PM. Zoomed view of phony Cumulus fractus.
1:26 PM.  Compare to real Cumulus fractus, and the imitation, knock-off, phony, generic brands  like to say about the real thing, and they're not as good are they.  They don't think that you're REALLY going to compare them and that's why they say that.
1:26 PM. “Compare to real Cumulus fractus,” as the imitation, knock-off, phony, generic brands
like to say about the real thing you like, but they’re never as good are they?  They don’t think that you’re REALLY going to compare the real one with the phony one and that’s why they say that.  They think you’re lazy.  I’m thinking of Danny Elfman1 and  “Grey Matter”…..
1:46 PM.  Here CMJs can easily tell that those clouds, though they appeared tufted and like they might have had droplets, were at ice-forming levels high in the atmosphere.  That height also indicated by their luminosity, whiteness, as they first formed.
1:46 PM.  Here CMJs can easily tell that those clouds, though they appeared tufted and like they might have had droplets in them when they first formed, were at ice-forming levels high in the atmosphere.  Here you see the expanding “ghosts” of several of  the tufts that formed (upper left center), originally a dense concentration of ice crystals or a momentary droplet cloud, a dense cloud of ice that disperses in time, no further ice forms and so acts like a puff of smoke, and thins out, often disappearing as some of these did.

You can also these specks  fly by in the U of AZ time lapse film.  If you look at the film when they do, you can see them twisting around.  Cirrus at that level  (CM estimated 25,000 to 30,000 feet above the ground) are normally like sculptures; frozen in time as they pass by this time lapse camera with little or no internal movement.

You could also detect internal movement from the ground in real time in these specks (as we can with Cumulus clouds all the time, since we’re so close to real Cumulus fractus) so it must have really been churning up there.

This patch of specks only took a few minutes to pass by, so you were lucky if you say them.

Of course, you’re only interested in the Big Storm just ahead, not turbulence….probably have grown impatient by now, not wanting to read about itty bitty specks in the sky that might have been associated with strong turbulence.   Well, its still “in the bag”, no need to worry.  See below this map from our Canadian friends’ model.  I really like this map, so no need to look farther.  Also, I wrote some things on it for you:

Valid for Monday, 5 AM AST, March 2nd.  I just had to go, "wow" when I saw this forecast map.
Valid for Monday, 5 AM AST, March 2nd. I just had to go, “wow” when I saw this forecast map.

That “kicker” trough just off the Cal coast is going to kick that trough “ball” just off Baja at us as in a field goal in American football, and we are the goal posts.

When a trough is booted out like this one will be out of its nest, the upward motion in front of it is in enhanced, so that the clouds and precip intensify, become more widespread.   Its going to head right for us, as it accelerates toward the NE.

This means, in turn, that the very strong rain band already in place in western Arizona, will intensify as it moves east across the State.  This is pretty darn exciting because from here it would mean quite the downpour, hours of rain, and almost certainly thunderstorms on March 2nd.  However, flooding is likely as rainrates will likely get up to an inch an hour or even more as the band passes over us.

Still sticking with 0.9 inches as “best guess” here in Catalina, top amount, 1.50 inches, if band lingers longer.  Secretly hope I’m low….

In one last forecast panel, this MONSTER approaching the Cal coast.  Its pretty far out there, as I am being today with the notes on band favorite, Oingo Boingo and sociobiology below, to be reliable, but its shown up a couple of times now in our model runs.  It is unbelievable in strength to be forecast as far south as off central Baja, and I wanted to show you what an amazingly strong storm for so low in latitude would look like, if nothing else:

Valid at
Valid at 11 AM AST, March 11th, Wednesday.  A trough from this low a latitude barging into southern California would likely bring rains of 10-20 inches.  And, while we’re downwind behind mountains, it would still bring appreciable rain here, too.  BTW, rains of 10 inches or more, even in just 24 h, are not terribly unusual in the mountains of southern Cal.

The End.

PS:  A powerful jet stream is near us now, so more strange clouds, lenticular-sliver clouds, and fine granulations in Cirrocumulus and such, are likely to be seen over the next couple of days.  Have camera ready.

PPS:  Still some flow in the Sutherland Wash as of yesterday.

——————————-

1The genius of Danny Elfman, that is, composer of the Simpson’s theme song, and the only composer to be nominated for two film scores in the same year, and also the leader of Oingo Boingo, an LA punk rock/ new wave band in the early 1980s, formerly known as , “The Mystic Nights of the Oingo Boingo”, more like a Spike Jones gag band.  An early  influence on Elfman was the concept of sociobiology, as represented in “Only a Lad“, a song about an inherently bad “lad”, satirizing some popular, widely held concepts on the causes of mischievous behavior in that song.   A sample below, if you care2.

“The lady down the block,
She had a radio that Johnny wanted oh so bad,
So he took it the first chance he had.
Then he shot her in the leg,
And this is what she said
“Only a lad. You really can’t blame him.”
“Only a lad. Society made him.”
“Only a lad. He’s our responsibility.”
Oh, oh, oohh oh oh oh
“Only a lad. He really couldn’t help it.”
“Only a lad. He didn’t want to do it.”
“Only a lad. He’s underprivileged and abused.”
Perhaps a little bit confused?”

2Being a rad-lib in those days, I thought it was INCREDIBLE to hear such a song with THOSE lyrics in the early 1980s on the University of Washington student radio station, KCMU-FM,  again, if you care.

System vanquishes sun for three days! Produces 2.28 inches in The Heights!

While on the first day, January 29th, the sun was only blocked by mid-level clouds, the rainy ones on January 30th and 31st provided a rain amount to remember here in the Sutherland Heights (and elsewhere–numerous records broken),  2.28 inches recorded over 24 h ending at 7 AM for the past three days,  beginning with the 30th:

0.19, 1.56, and 0.53 inches, ending this morning.

Weeds and wildflowers really happy, as will be free range cattle and horses that get out of their pens in the days and weeks ahead.

———-experimental module———————–

We have an interesting experiment in progress, one we didn’t know we were going to have re wildflowers this spring.

A local wildflower expert on a public TEEVEE station here was quoted as saying that NOVEMBER rain was critical to wildflower displays.  Hmmm.  OK, but we had a RAINLESS NOVEMBER here!

So, no wildflowers?  A limited display?  Some key ones don’t come up at all because November was rainless, while October, December and now January had generous rains?

I don’t think so.  My take is that everything will be hunky dory.  HELL, no one will be able to tell that November was rainless in our upcoming wildflower displays.

But the reader must be advised royally in this editorial side bar, that the writer is a cloud-maven, not a flower-maven as was expert quoted on public TEEVEE.

So, let the experiment unfold before our very eyes!  A chance for all to learn things!  Ans, how fun is that?

———————–end of experimental module——————

Too, I wonder how often three sunless days have occurred in southern Arizona?  Was probably a rare event that these past three days mimicked Seattle or other Pac NW sites west of the Cascade Mountains in winter so well.

BTW, in an important climate note concerning the Pacific Northwest, it rains more in Eugene, OR, aka Duckville, more than in Seattle, in case you’re a football player and are deciding between the Washington Huskies and the Oregon Donald Ducks prior to the upcoming LOI Day,  the National Holiday celebrating when high school kids sign Letters of Intent about where they are going to play college football.

And, continuing a high school theme,  don’t forget to watch football today;  the Seattle Seahawks,  who live right next door to the University of Washington Huskies, will be playing in a big game, so maybe you could get some valuable autographs while playing for the Huskies….  Just a thought.

Back to yesterday……

I think the most surprising part was how nearly stationary rain echoes kept giving all day yesterday.  So often, where clouds are almost stationary, they just rain out and thin.  But it just kept coming, at least here in Catalina.  And, as the storm came to a close, the expected sight of a frosty Lemmon appeared late in the day due to the gradually lowering snow level as the clouds suddenly lifted when a dry north wind rushed in.  Should be more of that dry north wind today.

No rain in sight now….  Corrals can dry out, which would be good.

BTW, by later yesterday the local washes were running reel good.  In case you missed the flows, here are some floody scenes:

1:48 PM.  Here a Catholic priest in non-traditional garb inspects the CDO wash at East Wilds Road.
1:48 PM. Here a semi-retired Catholic priest in non-traditional garb inspects the CDO wash at East Wilds Road.

 

1:49 PM.  Looking downstream from the CDO wash and E Wilds intersection.
1:49 PM. Looking downstream from the CDO wash and E Wilds intersection.
1:56 PM.  Perhaps you're a person that prefers upstream views of flooding situations.  Well, here it is, the CDO Wash looking upstream at East Wilds Road in Catalina.  Trying to please everybody here.
1:56 PM. Perhaps you’re a person that has a preference for upstream views of flooding situations. Well, here it is, the CDO Wash looking upstream at East Wilds Road in Catalina. Trying to please everybody here, no matter what your preferences are.

Hiked out to the Sutherland Wash yesterday, arriving about 3 PM to take these docuphotos for you.   These were taken near the horse crossing that leads to the “Rusty Gate” and the Coronado National Forest boundary on the east side of the Wash.

Had not seen the Sutherland Wash this big before, in person.  Was much higher, though, during the September 8, 2014 event, as deduced from debris piles, when 4-5 inches fell in 3 h.

DSC_2567 DSC_2563 DSC_2562

 

Yesterday’s cloud

It was pretty much the same one all day I think.   We begin our cloud soliloquy with an unusual sighting of pure Stratus, present before the rain moved in again.

7:49 AM.  Like a wall painted with Seattle gray paint, available at most fine hardware stores.
7:49 AM. Like a wall painted with Seattle gray paint, available at most fine hardware stores.  That is the appearance of true Stratus, and we had that yesterday after dawn.  Some fog, too, drifted through.  Remember, when its on the ground its called, “fog”, while when its above you the same thing is “Stratus.”  Estimated ceiling here, 100 feet.
DSC_2533
1:08 PM. In the afternoon the Stratus clouds began to break up at times, providing peek-aboo looks at Samaniego Ridge, which was kind of cool. Remember, that the Stratus clouds were not the ones precipitating, but rather the a layer of “Nimbostratus” above them was. However, as you know, a drop falling into a layer of Stratus clouds does not evaporate while it falls through them, AND, can even get bigger if some floating cloud drop can’t get out of the way (those larger than about 20 microns in diameter). So, to continue an educational stream here, while Stratus clouds, and Stratocumulus clouds may not produce precip beyond drizzle, they CAN help increase rain totals when they are present because raindrops are not evaporating when they fall through them, and raindrops may even get larger and the rainfall amount be more than otherwise due to the collection of some of the cloud droplets!

 

4:14 PM.  Its STILL raining!  Unbelievable for someone who thought this Nimbostratus layer would rain out and die in place.  The low clouds were completely gone, swept away by a dry north wind.
4:14 PM. Its STILL raining! Unbelievable for someone who thought this Nimbostratus layer would rain out and die in place.   This is a really good shot of that layer that produced the rain that fell into lower Stratus and Stratocumulus clouds for most of the day.  Some connections between the two did occur in the heavier rain areas,  The low clouds were completely gone by this time, swept away by a dry north wind.
5:15 PM.  As the Nimbostratus layer lifted, eventually to Altostratus opacus, if you really want to know, frosty The Lemmon came out showing that the snow level had declined during the day.
5:15 PM. As the Nimbostratus layer lifted, eventually to Altostratus opacus, if you really want to know, frosty The Lemmon came out showing that the snow level had declined during the day.

You may wish to pleasure yourself with another and very unusual occurrence of fog right now (7:02 AM) coming out of Tucson, heading toward Marana, south Oro Valley.   Very pretty scene this miniute.  Heading out now to capture on film.

The End

1.75 inches and counting; 3-7 in SE mountains

What a great wildflower-producing/maintaing storm!  While some, well most,  of the exceptional weather expected, like TSTMs, funnels, hail,  locusts, and afternoon arcus clouds, were not really observed, a lot of rain was.  Here’s your cloud day for our stupendous storm, not yet over, beginning with a how-it-fell chart:

How it fell.
How it fell.
7:43 AM.  A very Seattle=like view if the Catalina Mountains were the Olympic Mountains west of Seattle.
7:43 AM. A very Seattle-like view if the Catalina Mountains were the Olympic Mountains west of Seattle, complete with standing lenticular cloud overhead, here due to the SSE winds aloft.  Overnight, with just 0.19 inches,  we were one of the driest places in SE Arizona due to shadowing of the rain due to that southerly wind.
8:31 AM.  Almost the same scene, lenticular plate overhead holding in place, though it soon began to fade.
8:31 AM. Almost the same scene, lenticular plate overhead holding in place, though it soon began to fade.

 

9:00 AM.  Hike to get closer to rain, and to see if Sutherland Wash, east of Sutherland Heights, had any water in it after a few inches had fallen on Ms. Mt. Lemmon
9:00 AM. Hike to get closer to rain, and to see if Sutherland Wash, east of Sutherland Heights, had any water in it after a few inches had fallen on Ms. Mt. Lemmon.  Very pretty sight, coulda been on the west side of the Cascade Mountains, except for the lack of forests.
9:03 AM.  Another dramatically gray scene, something in the way of a cloud street coming off the Catalinas at ME.
9:03 AM. Another dramatically gray scene, something in the way of a cloud street coming off the Catalinas at ME.
9:08 AM.  Classic Arizona rain day scene.  Can't really be anywhere else with that saguaro, can it?
9:08 AM. Classic Arizona rain day scene. Can’t really be anywhere else with that saguaro, can it? Oh, btw, there was NOTHING in the wash at the Cottonwoods!
Jake the horse enjoys new sawdust while waiting for the rain.  Dreamer horse looks on.
9:47 AM.  Bored with the lack of rain, took this;   Jake the horse, also bored,  enjoys new sawdust while waiting for the rain which can’t seem to get here.. Dreamer horse looks on.

 

11:15 AM.  Still wating for rain, though it continues to pound the Catalinas, which is good.
11:15 AM. Still wating for rain, though it continues to pound the Catalinas, which is good.
10:50 AM.  Still hasn't rained here in Catalina after the rain near dawn.  However, this nice cloud base began to hover to the south of us.  Will it do anything?  Stand by.
10:50 AM. Still hasn’t rained here in Catalina after the rain near dawn. However, this nice cloud base began to hover to the south of us. Will it do anything? Stand by.

 

11:47 AM.  That hovering cloud base, much like a lenticular, continued in place, but at this time,  rain was beginning to fall from the downstream portions
11:47 AM. That hovering cloud base, much like a lenticular, continued in place, but at this time, rain was beginning to fall from the downstream portions over us!  And, look how summer-like the rain intensity looks on Pusch Ridge!  It started to get real exciting now.

 

1:21 PM.  Still R- to R falling out of this stationary cloud just upstream of Catalina. You could see that the backside of the rain upwind of us was only a mile or two away, but it never arrived during that 2 h rain.  One of the most interesting rain situations you and I have ever seen.
1:21 PM. Still R- to R falling out of this stationary cloud just upstream of Catalina. You could see that the backside of the rain upwind of us was only a mile or two away, but it never arrived during that 2 h rain. One of the most interesting rain situations you and I have ever seen.  About a quarter of an inch fell during this situation.  Nice.  And still, the “Yikes” period mentioned yesterday, suggested by the progs,  was still ahead!  But would it disappoint?
1:59 PM.  For those meteorologists and cloud mavens that like to work without looking at radar, this scene should have got your heart pounding.  Note the dark line on the horizon, "The Yikes Event" is about to happen!
1:59 PM. For those meteorologists and cloud mavens that like to work without cheating and looking at radar, this scene should have got your heart pounding. Note the dark line on the horizon, “The Yikes Event”m triggered by “Red Curly Air” aloft,  is about to happen!

 

1:59 PM.  Close up of the arcus cloud on the  and windshift line on the horizon about to move in.
1:59 PM. Close up of the arcus cloud on the and windshift line on the horizon about to move in.
2:26 PM.  In case you didn't believe me, this.  Visions of lightning  and hail danced in my head;  maybe some arcus would turn into a tube!
2:26 PM. In case you didn’t believe me, this. Visions of lightning and hail danced in my head; maybe some arcus would turn into a tube!
2:57 PM.  Cutting to the chase, just before the gush of wind and hours of rain.  The rain here is just arriving at Oracle Road.  No LTG, no hail, no funnels were observed though I looked damn hard.  That hangy down thing did not have rotation.
2:57 PM. Cutting to the chase, the so-so arcus cloud fronting the rain just before the gush of wind and hours of rain for Catalina arrived. The rain here is just arriving at Oracle Road.  No LTG, no hail, no funnels were observed though I listened and looked damn hard. That hangy-down thing did not have rotation.   See chart at beginning of blog for the great rain that fell.  Of course, with all the upper level support this had (“red curly air”) you knew it was going to be a wide rain band, not a cheesy narrow one.  We didn’t get the more severe Cumulonimbus clouds probably because there were no sun breaks ahead of this line (as was anticipated); temperatures stayed cool, in the mid-50s.  Still, it was a great work of rain (again, see chart).

The End, of yesterday’s cloud story, finished the next day after that.   See yesterday’s cloud story today.

 

Rain piling up; 3.4 inches already on Ms. Lemmon, more elsewhere!

And,  will there be a tornado today, too?  Arcus cloud almost a certainty.    Get cameras ready!    Read on…farther down.

4 (FOUR!)  inches  at Park Tank, Reddington Pass area by 6 AM ! Incredible for so early in the storm!  Check more  totals out from your friendly Pima County ALERT regional gauges.    Mods on track to verify those huge amounts that were predicted the day before yesterday! Washes will be running!  Flowers happy!  I’m happy!  Lot of excitement here!      !                                        !

Only 0.15 inches here in Sutherland Heights/Catalina…. so far (6 AM).   :{

Yesterday’s study in gray

DSC_2297DSC_2285DSC_2288DSC_2300DSC_2319DSC_2327DSC_2333 DSC_2342

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today!

Some excitement just now, after seeing that a major rain band had passed by, and we’re now in a break in the rain.

Will it rain more?  Tune in at 11 to find out…..  (hahahaha;  we don’t do that here!  More excitement.)

Went to U of AZ mod run from 11 PM AST last night, the very latest, then saw that a narrow,  heavy band or precip, maybe a squall line, something out of the Midwest, was foretold for us Catalinans this afternoon!

Then went to examine upper air and positioning of vorticity maximums ejecting out of our incoming trough (vorticity maximums represented by redness in the plot below from the University of Washington’s Weather Department– color scheme by Mark Albright, the color man up there:

Positioning of "red curly air" (vorticity or rotational areas) in the atmosphere at 1 PM AST today, looking for the cause of the afternoon rainband.  The approach of red curly air is accompanied by upward motion in the atmosphere.  When I looked at this, I exploded with a "yikes!". more excitement, today's theme.
Positioning of “red curly air” (vorticity or rotational areas) in the atmosphere at 1 PM AST today, looking for the cause of the afternoon rainband. The approach of red curly air is accompanied by upward motion in the atmosphere. When I looked at this, I exploded with a “yikes!”. more excitement, today’s theme.

This was exciting due to incoming “red curly air” this afternoon above us, AND,  due to those spreading out of the contours over us (see arrowhead).  Diffluent contours are indicative of air spreading out aloft, something that leads to enhanced upward motion.

And, to blab on, the air aloft will be cooling off on top of our high-for-winter dewpoint air (50s), which should lead to large Cumulonimbus clouds, likely organized in a line of thunderstorms, as all this happens this afternoon or evening.

And, going over the edge here some, as is my wont, we might well see a funnel cloud somewhere today.  This is the kind of situation that you can get them.  So, to sum up today:

Possible funnels!  Will they reach the ground somewhere in AZ?  Maybe.  Lightning!  Hail likely, too!  Rain rates likely to reach an inch an hour, though that rate may not last an hour unless you’re real lucky and get shafted real good.

Will be watching intensely for all these manner of things today!  Haven’t been this excited since Oct 2nd, 2010,  I think it was when they had that tornado in PHX!

Remember, too, our motto:

Right or wrong, you might have heard it here first!

The weather way ahead

While a long spell of dry weather comes after this 2 day event, the mods have popped up with a heavy dose of rain in two weeks.  Of course, normally this would be considered Fantasy 101.  HOWEVER,  a slight amount of credibility is added when such a pattern that brings rain strongly resembles the one you have now.  Check out these upper level flow maps out, as rendered by IPS MeteoStar, that has just moved their pay wall to March from February (yay!).  The first one below is for today’s situation, and the second one for Valentine’s Day in two weeks.  Look pretty similar don’t they.

You see, weather has a memory like your horse.  You ride to Deer Camp way up in the Catalinas; you’ve never been there before, nor has horsey, and then you head back, but you’re not sure of the way.

Well, horsey will remember for you!

(To continue with the extra excitement theme of today’s blog!)

Well, the weather has a memory that we call “persistence”, likes to do the same thing over and over for awhile, and so when a similar pattern turns up in the models that you have now, we give it a little more credibility than none when its two weeks out, maybe 30% chance of actually happening (i. e., still a bit of a long shot).

Here's what we have today; low off Baja spinning moist air from the far southern latitudes into AZ.
Here’s what we have today; low off Baja spinning moist air from the far southern latitudes into AZ.
Valid at 5 AM AST, February 14th, Valentine's Day
Valid at 5 AM AST, February 14th, Valentine’s Day
2015013000_WST_GFS_SFC_SLP_THK_PRECIP_WINDS_384
The big rain accompanying the Valentine’s Day Storm.

The End!