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.
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 result, some ice has formed even though they’re hardly colder than just -9°C or -10°C (14°F). Check the radar:
Here are some cloud shots from the past couple of days. Should be some more great scenes today:
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….
Moving ahead to yesterday and the day long cloud band….
The orangy colors denote the strongest winds in “Jetty Jetstream”, and as you know, the colder, low clouds, ones capable of reaching the temperatures where ice forms, are contained within that ring of strongest winds at this level (500 mb). So, while the models I have looked at so far have no rain here, I think there’s a pretty good chance of a rogue shower tomorrow morning anyway. At least there should be some nice Stratocumulus/Cumulus tomorrow and some will have ice in them. As you know, it’ll be awful windy today, too, maybe 40 mph or so in brief gusts here in The Heights of Sutherland.
Also will be looking for some nice lenticulars since “Jetty” will be right over us, but a little toward the warm side where lenticulars mostly occur.
In the meantime, spaghetti suggests a big trough in our area again about nine days from now. The later ACTUAL model outputs don’t show much of anything. What’s up with that? I’m hanging with spaghetti that later model runs will indicate a strong trough, and at LEAST another pulse of cooler air, and another minor chance of rain as we are going to see today and especially tomorrow as when become within the “ring of winds” aloft. Didn’t Johnny Cash sing something about that? Maybe it was Wall of Voodoo…
Below, some spaghetti for you showing a big trough over Arizona and the Great Basin which is not much reflected in the actual models, as noted. But, just watch my friend, how those model outputs will change to reflect a bigger trough about this time!
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:
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:
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:
As the morning wore on, the Altocumulus deck faded away, moving east, and we were left with some Cirrus clouds, but what kind?
Well, that was it for photography yesterday.
Doesn’t seem to be any reliable indication of rain in sight. Oh, sure, rain here pops up in the models almost every day, but its about 12-15 days out. As the model gets closer to the day it predicted rain, it seems to go away like the “water mirage” on a hot paved road; always ahead of you, but you never get to it. We’ve had some major rains indicated in the models as of a few days ago, but spaghetti was never very high on those events (clustering those crazy lines in a trough over us), so it wasn’t even worth mentioning.
Not much else to talk about, no rain of course; what is that?
But with so many colorful scenes yesterday, we can be partially sated by the lives we lead here sans rain here. October ended with a puny 0.01 inches in Sutherland Heights.
Now, because I grew up in California and remain a little Cal-centric, this brief diversion from AZ:
But droughty Cal got nailed though, from about San Luis Obispo, so we can be happy about that I guess. One station, Gasquet RS, near the Duck border, got just under 28 inches in October; stations in the Santa Cruz Mountains, way down by Monterrey, got between 14-17 inches! From the California-Nevada River Forecast Center, this nice map of October rainfall anomalies in that domain. Red is real dry, and that’s the color we would be in if it was the California-Nevada-Arizona River Forecast Center:
But let us not dwell any more of generous rains that others got, but celebrate the color and clouds of Arizona. Here are yesterday’s glorious scenes, beginning with a spectacular Altocumulus lenticularis under some Cirrus at dawn:
Now, just some nice lighting and color:
In a further celebration of dryness here, let us examine the rainfall cumulative rainfall predictions calculated by the University of Arizona’s Dept Hydro and Atmos Sci computer the period ending at Midnight on November 5th. Says the coming rain in the State misses us here in SE AZ while falling just about everywhere else, of course. Dang. Let’s hope it one of the worst model predictions ever!
Truly LATE breaking news, untimely really, but Augustober 18th was too special a day to ignore:
Giant clouds, dense rain shafts, frequent lightning in the area throughout the afternoon, dewpoints in the high 50s to 60 F; can it really be after the middle of October? Or, is this some kind of preview of climate change we can look forward to in the decades ahead, that is, if you’re thunderphilic?
1:56 PM. Anvil of the Cumulonimbus over west Tucson, drifts overhead of Catalina, and in three minutes, rain drops started to hit the ground. This is amazing because those drops had to fall from at around 20, 000 feet above the ground (estimated as bottom height of this thick anvil) and could only have happened if those isolated drops had been hailstones ejected out the anvil, something that also only occurs with severe storms with very strong updrafts in them. So, if you saw those few drops fall between 2 and 2:05 PM you saw something pretty special.
The weather just ahead, and this might be it for precip for the rest of October
A nice-looking upper level trough is ejecting over us from the SW this morning but the computer model says its going to be a dry event. A second low center forms just about over us in the next day. AZ model doesn’t see much rain for us throughout these events, and rain doesn’t begin here until after dark today.
I think that is WRONG; bad model. Watch for some light showers this morning, then a break and rain overnight (which the models do predict). Due this quite bad model forecast, as seen from this keyboard, I feel must interject for the blog reader I have, an improved rain prediction for Catalina over that rendered by a computer model.
Feel like guesstimating a minimum of 0.25 inches between now and Thursday evening, max possible, 0.60 inches, so the median of those two, and maybe the best guestimate being the average of those two, or 0.425 inches here in Catalina. When you see a prediction of a rainfall total down to thousandths of an inch, you really know that the person predicting it knows what he is doing…..
Below, your U of AZ disappointing, but objective, take on the amount of rain based on last evening’s data and one that is the result of billions of calculations. One must remember that cloud maven person’s calculation of the rainfall amount for Catalina is only based on three.
The clouds were somewhat of a disappointment yesterday, not the stupendous photogenic day CM was expecting.
Maybe CM is total fraud, gets Big Oil funding and should be investigated by Rep. Grijalva as other weather folk are, like the great Prof. and National Academy of Sciences Fellow, Dr. Judy Curry, a friend, and about whom I say on a link to her blog here, and from this blog’s very beginning, “The only link you will need.” I said that because Judy2 is a top scientist, and is eminently fair in this polarized issue.
I am in real trouble! Will remove that link immediately1 before our very own “climate thought enforcer”, Demo Rep. Grijalva, AZ, finds it using a spy bot! No telling how far down the influence chain it will go, maybe all the way down to here, where there is virtually no influence!
Back to clouds…….
Only late in the day did the delicate patterns expected to happen ALL DAY appear, again, with iridescence, always nice to see.
The media, Bob, and our good NWS, of course, are all over the incoming rain in great detail. In fact, it will take you half a day to read all the warnings on this storm issued by our Tucson NWS.
So why duplicate existing information that might be only slightly different than the prevailing general consensus on the storm amounts, and then maybe be investigated for going against a consensus? No, not worth it. Best to be safe, not say things against The Machine. (OK, maybe overdoing it here.)
In the meantime, the upper low off southern Cal and Baja has fomented an extremely strong band of rain, now lying across SE Cal and the Colorado River Valley where dry locations like Blythe are getting more than an inch over the past 24 h. Same for northern Baja where some places are approaching 2-3 inches, great for them. You can see how the rain is piling up in those locations here. In sum, this is a fabulous storm for northern Mexico and the SW US, whether WE get our 0.915 inches, as foretold here, or not! Rejoice in the joy of others. Looking for an arcus cloud fronting the main rainband, too, that low hanging cloud in a line that tells you a windshift is coming. Still expecting, hoping, for thunder today to add to the wind and rain drama.
Also, the present cloud cover, as the trough ejects toward us, will deepen up and rain will form upwind and around here as that happens, so it won’t JUST be the eastward movement of the existing band. This means you might be surprised by rain if you’re outside hiking and think the band itself is hours away. Expecting rain to be in the area by mid-morning, certainly not later than noon, with the main blast (fronted by something akin to an arcus cloud) later in the day. OK, just checked the U of AZ mod run from 11 PM AST, and that is what it is saying as well! Wow.
Finally, if you care, yesterday’s clouds:
Below, just some pretty patterns observed later in the day. Click to see larger versions.
Whew, the end.
1Not!!!!!! I thought this was a good read about this deplorable new stage of “climate thought enforcement” now in progress. It was brought to my attention by climate folk hero, friend, and big troublemaker, Mark Albright. Wow, maybe Mark will be investigated, too! Maybe I should excise his name….
2I remember, too, how cute she was when she worked my lab/office at the University of Washington in the mid-1980s, and thought about asking her out, to detract from a serious commentary here. She was a Penn State grad student, not a U of WA employee; still, to ask her out would have been untoward. A human commentary like this, one about feelings and things, help boost blog attendance.
1While several inches of model2 rain has occurred in Catalina and in the nearby mountains this month, most of which cloud-maven person has festooned his blog with model panels of, there really hasn’t been any ACTUAL rain.
But having said that, there is even MORE model rain ahead, some beginning tomorrow in these parts. Tomorrow’s rain comes from a sub-tropical minor wave ejecting from the sub-tropics. You know, as a CMJ, a wave from that zone means a ton of high and middle clouds, i.e., likely DENSE Altostratus with virga, something that was seen yesterday off to the SW of us. This time, though, some rain should fall from these thick clouds, though almost certainly will be in the trace to a tenth of an inch range between tomorrow and Monday morning.
Model rain from 11 PM AST global data then falls in Catalina on:
with the model total rain in these periods likely surpassing an inch or more! What a model rain winter season this has been! Astounding. The model washes have been running full since late December, too!
BTW, that last model rain period is really a great one, a major rain for ALL of Arizona!
Some recent clouds I have known and a couple of wildflowers
The End. Hope you enjoy the copious model rains ahead!
a lot….beginning tomorrow afternoon or evening, not today. Today is “pause” day. Also, its trash day today here in Catalina, mentioned here as a public service.
Slow moving, sub-tropical system to drop several inches of water content in rain/snow in mountains, sez our best model, that run by the U of AZ. Thank you, U of AZ, btw. Below a snapshot of the total precip from that 5 PM AST global data crunch, “nested” for AZ. This plodding gigantostorm should keep the water coming down the washes, luxuriate our sprouting wildflowers, some of which, like desert asters, are beginning to emerge and even bloom1:
Lot’s of gray sky photograph opportunities ahead. Get camera ready. Not much in the way of rain seen in mods after this, so enjoy this rain “chapter” of your life as fully as you can.
After another light shower boosted our storm total another 0.02 inches, a fabulous, wonderful, almost Hawaiian like day followed with a little humidity in the air, deep blue skies, and white puffy clouds, ones a true cloud maven would call, Cumulus clouds and would be ashamed if he just said they were “puffy clouds.”
1Desert Aster (I think) in bloom seen on the link trail from the Baby Jesus Trail to the Deer Camp Trail.
It doesn’t get much better than this plot below for our Catalina weather 10-13 days ahead, which is always pretty fuzzy-looking as a rule. “Better” means for rain chances here, which is not everyone’s “better.”
Here’s the excitement:
Note blank area, that is, an area free of lines area centered on the gambling and other mischief-permitting State of Nevada1.
Note how the red lines dip down into Mexico, whilst the blue lines bulge northward into Canada along the West Coast.
This error-filled plot2 tells us that it is almost certain that a trough will be in the lower middle latitudes where we are on January 22nd or so. Just about guaranteed.
In the meantime, those blue lines indicated that a ridge of high pressure is going to divert northern storms into Canada and southeast Alaska. Sometimes we refer to situations like this as “split flow”; the southern portions of storms in the Pacific move ESE toward southern California and the Southwest, while the northern portions split off to the NE, as is happening now. Weak upper level disturbances pass overhead, the next one tomorrow, and with it, a little more rain, the models say.
U of AZ mod has rain moving in toward dawn tomorrow with totals here amounting to about like that last rain, 0.10 to 0. 25 inches. Given model vagaries, probably the lower and upper limits here are likely to be 0.05 (worst case scenario) and 0.50 inches (best case scenario), so a best guess would be the middle of those, 0.275 inches, not too much different from the AZ mod. This is the sports-like part of weather forecasting. What’s your estimate, fantasy or otherwise?
BTW, there were quite a few stations reporting over an inch of rain in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties during the past 24 h, and so while weak, this system is pretty juicy, lots of liquid water as measured by dewpoints which should rise into the upper 40s to low 50s here during the next day. Also, there have been some embedded weak Cumulonimbus clouds and that’s a possibility here tomorrow, too, as the rainband goes by. You’ll be able to tell that by strong shafting below the clouds. As always, hoping we here in Catalina get shafted tomorrow.
But the ones these days are weak, while the split ahead in 10-13 days is likely to contain much stronger disturbances, well, at least ONE before it gives out.
1What a great and honest state motto that would be! “Nevada: That US State where gambling and other social mischief is OK with us!”
2Don’t forget that due to growth in computer capabilities, we can now have many model runs from the same data and be done with them in a timely way. These “spaghetti”, “ensemble” or better yet, “Lorenz” plots are computer model runs with deliberate (!) slight errors introduced to see how the model forecasts of high and low pressure centers changes, given a few slight errors. This is because there are ALWAYS errors in the data anyway, there are always error bars on measurements, etc. By doing this, only the strongest signals in the forecasts remain, indicated by grouping of lines these two colors of lines, red and bluish. So, the forecast of the jet stream coming out of Asia is very, very reliable. Things go to HELL, downstream (toward the east), but some likely patterns can still be seen, such as the one over the Southwest US where a trough/low is almost certain in our area then. Will it bring us rain in Catalina? Hell, I don’t know because if the trough is a little too far to the east of us, we might only get cooler. However, since Cloud Maven person has a postive rain bias, he will say, “Absolutely. There will be rain in the Catalina area on January 22nd or so”–the actual timing might be off by a day or so.