Category Archives: Sunsets

Sunset was pretty good; raindrops tomorrow morning? In nine days as well?

Haven’t had much to say, brain pretty empty again after the big review of the NAS 2003 review which really needed reviewing and commenting on real bad….

(More “late homework” in the offing.)

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Nice sunset last night; we have had a series of pretty nice ones over the past few days.

April 26th. Sunset over the Charoulou Gap.
April 26th. Sunrise over the Charouleau Gap.
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Orangy mountains highlighted by a gap in the Altostratus layer that allowed the setting sun to shine through.
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7:04 PM. There was some turreting in this line of Altostratus that passed over, and because of those deeper tops, indicating stronger, if still slight updrafts, larger snow particles developed and produced this line of heavier virga underneath it.
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7:10 PM.
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A contrail that’s more than about ten minutes old, now, after the new Int. Cloud Atlas has been released, termed, Cirrus anthrogenitus, maybe castellanus in this case, too.

From IPS MeteoStar, this interesting map for tomorrow morning.

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.

Map valid for tomorrow morning at 5 AM AST.
Map valid for tomorrow morning at 5 AM AST.

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!

Valid at 5 PM May 7th.
Valid at 5 PM May 7th.

 

The End

 

“Peru’s Niño”

I thought you’d like to read this (Peru’s Niño), forwarded to me by Niño expert, Nate M.   Pretty incredible to read about what is happening down there in the wake of the Big Niño of 2015-16,  which really turned out to be more of a couch potato in terms of weather production in the Great SW.

But, all this winter,  along the Equator near the coast of South America, there has been something we used to call an “El Niño”,  but is downplayed or ignored these days because of a new definition that seemed to explain more weather when it occurred, “Region 3.4” a large zone along the Equator WAY out in the Pacific rather than something near the South American coast (that zone now called, “Regions 1 and 2”),  as nicely illustrated by NOAA here.

But what has been the effect of what we might call the “Classic Niño”, a warm strip of water along the South American coast, one that doesn’t extend too far into the Pacific?  “Read all about it”, as they used to say.   Its pretty remarkable.

And here’s what the SST field looks like.  Its boiling down there off South America!  (Speaking figuratively, of course):

Sea surface temperature anomalies as of yesterday from the Navy!
Sea surface temperature anomalies as of yesterday from the Navy!  Wow.  That hot water is fueling giang Cumulonimbus clouds, ones that spew out huge anvils that can affect the weather in the mid-latitudes, disrupt the normal winter patterns of where highs and lows like to go.  Could such a warm anomaly, limited to the near coastal region of South America, have created this astounding winter in the West?

Peru’s Niño can be thought of as a “classic Niño”, the ones written about in the decades before about 1990 or so when the definition of what constituted a  NIño (or Niña) was expanded and delineated more sharply among several definitions that were floating around. We ended up focusing on a region WAY out in the Pacific Ocean called, “Region 3.4” that SEEMED to explain more over the prior years.

What’s so interesting about this is that the “Classic Niño” has been underway pretty much all this winter, and we’ve had, especially in California, a classic Niño response; that is,  abnormally heavy precip farther down the West Coast that no one anticipated.

Hmmmmm.

Well, the correlations with Cal precip and “classic Niño” occurrences will take a huge jump upward after THIS winter!

End of Statement (hand-waving)  on Niñoes.

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Local weather statement:  for immediate release

Cooler, fluctuating weather foretold here for that latter part of March, I don’t know how many weeks ago, is on the doorstep after the long, anomalously hot dry spell.  Poor wildflowers have been suffering, too, fading, looking a little stunted after a great beginning, one rivaling the great displays of 2010.

All of the local weatherfolk are on top of this now, and so no point recasting that stuff.  HECK, you can go to Weather Underground1
and get as “good as can be” forecast for Catalina (Sutherland Heights) out to ten days!  And, there’s nothing worse for a weather forecaster with forecasting in his blood, than to be excited about an “incoming” and when you mention it to a neighbor he replies, “Yeah, I heard about that already.  Supposed to get a quarter of an inch.”  There is no air whatsoever in the “balloon” after that.  So, if you have a weather-centric friend who says something about the upcoming weather, pretend that you haven’t heard about it yet, “DON’T say something as hurtful, as “Yeah, I heard about that already.”

So, here, we go the long route because most weatherfolk are afraid to go too far into the future because its often WRONG.  Our models tend to lie a lot after about even a week, so only the brave go out even ten days!

However, here, we go out as much as two weeks and more because its not a truly professional site but rather want to get something out there earlier than other people, sometimes called a “scoop” in the news and weather business.  That’s why our motto here is, “Right or wrong, you heard it here first!”  Furthermore, if a longer range forecast posted here is WRONG, you won’t hear about it anymore!

Cloud maven person will say this about the first incoming of several fronts:  comes in early Thursday morning, its strong!    Rainfall potential:  10% chance of less than 0.12 inches, 10% chance of more than 0.75 inches.  Best of those is the average, or about 0.4350 inches in this one.  It has great POTENTIAL to be a soaker, but mods have been all over the place; hence, the large range of potential amounts.  At least some measurable rain seems to be in the bag, a paper one please, because plastic is insidious.  Note, CMP’s forecast is more generous than that found in WU’s latest forecast for Catalinaland.

The weather WAY ahead, unprofessionally so

Let us look beyond the professional forecasting limits to April:

We know we got several storms/fronts zipping across AZ as March goes out like a lion, but what about April?

Looks like that pattern will continue into April with temperatures below normal for the first part.  The end of the unprofessional forecasting portion of this blog, though we do have our NOAA spaghetti to hang our umbrella on….  Check it out for about two weeks ahead.

Some clouds recent clouds, including a couple from yesterday

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2:33 PM.  Yesterday afternoon saw a few globs of lenticular forming on top of mini_Cumulus clouds, ones that made you think the summer rain season could be at hand, given the 90+ heat of yesterday around these parts.
12:52 PM.
12:52 PM.  A high  (above 30 kft above the ground) and cold (less than -40°C patch of Cirrocumulus cloud that is going to transition to CIrrus over the next 10-20 minutes.
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1:12 PM:  Later that same patch as those cloudlets spread out and merge into just an ordinary Cirrus after being that delicate-looking patch of Cirrocumulus. Most Cirrocumulus clouds are not this cold, but rather evaporate or fatten into larger elements of “Altocumulus” clouds, rather than transition to Cirrus.
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Had a nice sunset a couple days ago (15th), some liquid Altocumulus cloud slivers with higher Cirrus.

The End

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1Although “Weather Underground” might sound like an org has a radical origin, maybe something left over from the late 1960s, this particular one was NOT formed by 60s “weatherman” terrorists like Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn (the link is for those of you who may have set trash cans on fire, as happened at San Jose State to protest the Vietnam War, to look back at those days in horror or nostalgia; take your pick) , but rather by genuine weather geeks (haha, I count myself among them, those that can’t get enough of weather, there can never be too much, like the guys mentioned in this “Cloud City” article.)

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

I thought you’d like to see this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No one saw such an astounding winter coming.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The End, at last!

Iridescence, jet streak Cirrus warn of overnight “middlin'” storm

I guess “billows” (“undulatus” in cloudspeak) two days ago in the late afternoon wasn’t enough of a sign that the weather was changing. Yesterday we had fast moving Cirrocumulus with rainbows in it, and as the sun was setting, “jet streak Cirrus”, a line of Cirrus clouds often seen in the very core of high altitude, powerful jet streams passed overhead.

How hard was the wind blowing up there in that Cirrus last evening? Oh, our Tuscon balloon sounding, lifting off around 3:30 PM, going up about a 1000 feet a minute to, indicates that the max wind up there at Cirrus level was 146 knots (just under 170 mph)! Yikes. Poor balloon.  Must be in France by now.

The storm has been a bit of a disappointment in rain production. We’ve only logged 0.22 inches1.  Not as much as foretold here, 0.33 inches, but that forecast was a better prediction than  by “Weather Underground Robotics” (0.58 inches).  Its great to beat a robot!

We had another sign yesterday in the fastest moving Cirrocumulus clouds I think you’ll ever see around here (about 100 mph), ones at just 18,000 feet above sea level, 15 kft above Catalina:   rainbows of color near the sun called iridescence (also called “irisation”).   Here, as is the norm here,  are a few too many shots of the same thing2.

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10:54 AM. The fist of weather is used as a prop to indicate that these colors are forming a ring around the sun.
10:54 AM. The fist of weather is used as a prop to indicate that these colors are forming a ring around the sun. Usually you try to find a light standard somewhere…maybe a “gopro cam on a stick” might do it. Just don’t look at the sun when you do this.
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10:57 AM.
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10:57 AM, pulling back some for perspective. As we often say here, “so pretty.” And look at how tiny the granulation is in this Cirrocumulus cloud is!

The colors themselves, of course,  don’t warn of something about to happen, but the fast movement from the southwest did; a powerful jet stream is over you.   That strong stream, the result of temperature gradients in the atmosphere, is dividing deep warm air from deep cold air, and steers the alternations of high and low pressure centers, and with those alternations of lows and highs along the jet stream, air is drawn from different latitude zones and the boundaries where those different masses of air meet at the surface, is called fronts.  Here, such as last night, its nearly always cold ones.

The rest of the day was pretty exciting, the wind arising suddenly yesterday morning, along with our usual great visibility, and darker blue wintertime skies, made the clouds stand out more.

7:56 AM. Looking to the west at a scattering of Stratocu patches.
7:56 AM. Looking to the west at a scattering of Stratocu patches.
7:57 AM. Highlight on the hills above Saddlebrook. Stratocumulus overhead.
7:57 AM. Highlight on the hills above Saddlebrook. Stratocumulus overhead.
8:42 AM. This patch of Stratocumulus was the result of a lift zone that often produces clouds headed our way in southwesterly flow. The difference here is how limited in size this patch was allowing you to see where that lift zone was. Downstream, though, descending motions creamed this cloud, one that sat there most of the early part of the day. Usually a whole layer is over us, with a clearing visible toward the SW horizon.
8:42 AM. This patch of Stratocumulus was the result of a lift zone that often produces clouds headed our way in southwesterly flow. The difference here is how limited in size this patch was allowing you to see where that lift zone was. Downstream, though, descending motions creamed this cloud, one that sat there most of the early part of the day. Usually a whole layer is over us, with a clearing visible toward the SW horizon.
11:02 AM. Still out there, still limited in size. Wind here now 20-30 mph with stronger puffs.
11:02 AM. Still out there pretty much near the same spot, still limited in size. Wind here now 20-30 mph with stronger puffs.

 

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11:40 AM. By this time it had shifted closer to us, still forming on the southwest end, dissipating at the downwind end where the cloud is so ragged due to mixing with dry, descending air.
12:42 PM. Creeping closer, but still a standing wave, dissipating as it came toward us.
12:42 PM. Creeping closer, but still a standing wave, dissipating as it came toward us.  It was about this time that it disappeared, the sky becoming more complex with no simple standing waves.

The sky at last, considering the power of the trough approaching, FINALLY began to fill in.  Started looking around for the first sign of ice having formed in these clouds as the air aloft became cooler. Along with this filling in by Cumulus and Stratocumulus clouds, some sun highlights began to appear on our mountains, contrasted by the darkening skies above.

1:55 PM. Stratocumulus banks up against the Catalinas, Samaniego Ridge.
1:55 PM. Stratocumulus clouds  bank up against the Catalinas, Samaniego Ridge.
2:03 PM. While Stratocumulus banked up against the mountains, huge temporary clearings occurred elsewhere. Notice how shredded the tops of these clouds are and how the tops lean to the right. They're revealing the great increase in the wind with height, and yet, how dry it was above this layer (that, by the ragged cloud tops mixing with the very dry air just above them.)
2:03 PM. While Stratocumulus banked up against the mountains, huge temporary clearings occurred elsewhere. Notice how shredded the tops of these clouds are and how the tops lean to the right. They’re revealing the great increase in the wind with height, and yet, how dry it was above this layer (that, by the ragged cloud tops mixing with the very dry air just above them.)
3:38 PM. Here comes the Jet Streak Cirrus! Also about this time, the frontal windshift line, marked by low scud clouds in the cold air, began to appear on the NW horizon. It was an exciting moment. Here we go! FROPA within a coupla hours maybe. Well, took longer than that....
3:38 PM. Here comes the Jet Streak Cirrus! Also about this time, the frontal windshift line, marked by low scud clouds in the cold air, began to appear on the NW horizon. It was an exciting moment. Here we go! FROPA within a coupla hours maybe. Well, took longer than that….
3:52 PM. A little ruffle of Cirrocumulus leads the advance of the jet streak Cirrus.
3:52 PM. A little ruffle of Cirrocumulus leads the advance of the jet streak Cirrus.
4:11 PM. Cloud line forming above the frontal windshift line. Was progressing this way at this time, but was to stall, maybe back off.
4:11 PM. Cloud line forming above the frontal windshift line. Was progressing this way at this time, but was to stall, maybe back off.
4:11 PM. Zooming, floating over Saddlebrooke, this close up of our FROPA and windshift line. Ended up backing off, dissipating, maybe reforming later after dark.
4:11 PM. Zooming, floating over Saddlebrooke, this close up of our FROPA and windshift line. Ended up backing off, dissipating, maybe reforming later after dark.  These lowest clouds form in the colder air associated with the windshift line at the nose of the front as the moist air ahead of the front  mixes with it and is lifted.  We see this with most of our incoming cold fronts, and in our summer thunderstorms.  The best cases  form “arcus clouds”, a solid line just above and behind the windshift at the ground.  These kinds of ragged clouds, in cloudspeak, are called “pannus.”  Was pretty excited here, as no doubt you were, that FROPA (frontal passage) was imminent, might happen within the hour.  Nope.
4:40 PM. In the meantime, our jet streak CIrrus moved overhead, the clearing behind this thin band leading to some memorable fading sun highlights on the Catalinas.
4:40 PM. In the meantime, our jet streak CIrrus, above the Stratocumulus clouds,  moved overhead, the clearing behind this thin band leading to some memorable fading sun highlights on the Catalinas.
5:40 PM. No words needed.
5:40 PM. No words needed.
5:43 PM. "Fading sun and rain gauge." Another one of those exceptional scenes you won't find anywhere except on this blog. Tell your friends. A small mammal, termed a "packrat" is decimating my prickly pear wind protection for this gauge! A lot of rain loss occurs due to wind. drops missing the collector! It very upsetting to see this happen.
5:43 PM. “Fading sun and rain gauge.” Another one of those exceptional scenes you won’t find anywhere except on this blog. Tell your friends. A small mammal, termed a “packrat” is decimating my prickly pear wind protection for this gauge! A lot of rain loss occurs due to wind. drops missing the collector! It very upsetting to see this happen.
5:43 PM. Even the often despised teddy bear cholla can be so beautiful in this fading sun, the spines capturing it so well.
5:43 PM. Even the often despised teddy bear cholla can be so beautiful in this fading sun, the spines capturing it so well.

Eventually our jet streak Cirrus provided the background for another great sunset scene:

5:56 PM.
5:56 PM.

 

 

A 300 millibar (about 30,000 feet above sea level) with an IR satellite image for yesterday at 5 PM AST. Arrows denoted the jet streak Cirrus cloud, enhanced in the downwind region of the Baja mountains.
A 300 millibar (about 30,000 feet above sea level) with an IR satellite image for yesterday at 5 PM AST.   The Cirrus layer extended from about this height to around 35, 000 feet above sea level.   according to our TUS balloon sounding.  Arrows denoted the jet streak Cirrus cloud thatpassed over us,  enhanced in the downwind region of the Baja mountains.  Note that the wind at San Diego max wind was even slightly stronger than our wind max was at this level at152 knots.  This map is the courtesy of the University of Washington Huskies Weather Department.

Today’s clouds and weather

From that map above, you’ll see that there’s a “tail-dragger” trough still to the west of us and about over Sandy Ego (haha). That’s going to keep the air over us extremely cold, and with some sun, the Cumulus clouds that arrive are expected to have tops colder than -15 to -20° C, plenty cold enough for the formation of ice.
Ice means precip, snow up there, rain down here in spots. So, we could still pick up a few more hundredths if a shower happens to drop by. The chance of isolated very light showers in the area is 100%, but no one can tell you if one will actually land on us. You’ll have to be watching, mostly after 12 noon. Look to the west toward the Tortolita Mountains, terrain that ought to spawn one or two of those.

Looks like a longer dry spell ahead; several days to a week, maybe more.

The End

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1CoCoRahs gauge, btw. NWS-style gauge had only 0.20 inches, likely due to enhanced wind loss associated with my collapsing prickly pear protector.
2 I was driving and had to park and jump out of car to get these.  You only have seconds or maybe a minute or three to capture stuff like this.

Cold clouds and pretty, wintry scenes as long as they don’t last too long

What a gorgeous day yesterday was with deep blue skies dotted with Cumulus and one or two shallow Cumulonimbus, highlighted by our snow-capped Catalina Mountains.  After the brief warm up, more storms ahead for Catalina!

Yesterday’s clouds

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10:23 AM. By this time Cumulus were popping up all over, and with the temperature at just 10,000 feet above sea level (7,000 feet above Catalina) cloud mavens everywhere were pretty sure ice would eventually form in lots of Cumulus.
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10:24 AM. Shallow Cumulus congestus (left side) converting into an equally shallow Cumulonimbus capillatus (right half of cloud). This scene from a fairly primitive area of Arizona.
10:26 AM.
10:26 AM.  Pretty scene over Saddlebrooke.
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10:37 AM. Ice, there it is. Even shallow clouds spewed ice crystals and or small snowflakes (clusters of individual ice crystals.

Explanatory module below

The TUS balloon sounding, launched at about 3:30 AM yesterday morning from the campus of the University of Arizona Wildcats.
The TUS balloon sounding, launched at about 3:30 AM yesterday morning from the campus of the University of Arizona Wildcats.
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10:27 AM. Wintry scene #1, view toward the Charouleau Gap, and why do the French make spelling so hard?
11:04 AM. "Ice, there it is!", to paraphrase a song from "In Living Color."
11:04 AM. “Ice, there it is!”, to paraphrase a song from “In Living Color.”
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11:12 AM. Wintry scene #2. View is toward the Charouleau Gap.
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11:12 AM. Icy, but shallow Cumulonimbus cloud heads toward Catalina spewing a light rain shower and soft hail called “graupel.”
11:44 AM. Wintry scene #3.
11:44 AM. Wintry scene #3.
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12:32 PM. Not an advertisement for the University of Washington Huskies sports powerhouse, but rather a demonstration and graupel did, in fact,  fall from our shallow Cumulonimbus clouds yesterday.  BTW, the Washington Huskies play the NFL-ready, #1 Alabama Crimson Tide on New Year’s Eve at 1 PM AST in a fubbal playoff game.  It would be great if you watched, raising viewer numbers, and possibly therein,  the revenue stream flwoing into the University of Washington (from which I emanated). Oh, there appears to be a conical graupel there on the left. Graupel falling through a cloud of droplets often stays oriented with one face down, and that face collects all droplets that are freezing on it making that downward  facing side, as you would imagine,  bigger than the rear part, and so you get a pyramidal-shaped piece of soft ice. If it mainly tumbled on the way down through the cloud, it would be pretty spherical.  That white streak on the right is one that’s falling.
11:45 AM. Another ice producing candidate forms in cloud street aligned with Catalina.
11:12 AM. Another ice producing candidate forms in cloud street aligned with Catalina.  Couple of drops is all that came out of this.
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3:18 PM.  Very shallow, ice-producing clouds.  Few in the area had ice at this point in the afternoon, and a very tedious inspection of these clouds, comparing them with surrounding clouds,  suggested that their tops were just a bit higher than the ones around it that did not spew a little ice.
The TUS balloon sounding launched at 3:30 PM AST, also with writing on it.
The TUS balloon sounding launched at 3:30 PM AST, also with writing on it.
5:06 PM. Wintry scene #3 Pretty, eh?
5:06 PM. Wintry scene #4 Pretty, eh?
5:32 PM. Stratocumulus with red liner. Nice.
5:32 PM. Stratocumulus with red liner. Nice.

After the brief warm up ahead, still looks  “troughulent” and stormy in the SW as December closes out,  continuing into January.

The End

Colorful evening ends day with a colorful morning; a note on the great Cal rains of October 2016

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:

Many departures are far over the map color-coding limit of 350%, but are over 1000% of average!
Many departures are far over the map color-coding limit of 350%, but are over 1000% of average!  Note red below normal swath.  This tells you that the mean area of low pressure at the surface and aloft was just off the West Coast.  Pac NW set maximum October rainfall records, too.

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:

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6:37 AM.
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6:47 AM. Ac len stack.
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10:51 AM. Tiny patch of Cirrocumulus tried to hide in front of some Cirrus. Hope you weren’t fooled and logged this sighting in your cloud diary. Cloud maven person almost missed it himself.
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12:50 PM. There were lenticulars aplenty yesterday. Here’s another one in a location a little different from normal, beyond the Catalinas. Upwind edge is the smoothest one at right. No ice streamers coming out the downwind end, so must have been pretty “warm”. Lenticulars, due to their tiny droplets and those droplets having short life times, have been known to resist ice formation to temperatures well below -30°C -22° F). Pretty amazing.
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2:42 PM. Kind of clouded up in the afternoon, and with breezes, made it seem like something was up. It was, but far to the NW of us. We have been under a streamer of high to middle clouds originating deep in the Tropics for a couple of days. Here some lower level moisture has crept in on cat’s feet, to be poetic for a second, and has resulted in small Cumulus and Stratocumulus clouds underneath the Cirrus and lenticulars standing around. All in all, though the temperature here reached 87° F, a very pleasant day.

Now, just some nice lighting and color:

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5:32 PM. The almost flourescent plant in the foreground is what is known as a “cholla.” The end elements fall off quite easily and attach to things like your pant leg if you brush by them on a horse, or if back into them while walking and correcting your horse for something when he’s acting a little “wild.”  I can report that when seven or eight of them are stuck to the back of your shirt, its really hard to get that shirt off.  In fact, it just about won’t come off without a major scream.
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5:35 PM. The higher Cirrus are shaded by clouds to the west, but the lower remnants of Stratocumulus/Cumulus and a few Altocumulus are highlighted as though they were meant to be for this photo. So pretty.  Notice, too, how there seems to be more than one layer of Cirrus.
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5:44 PM. Cirrus and Altocumulus, the latter with some turreting making those the species, “castellanus”, if you care.
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5:47 PM. A nice flame-out of Cirrus occurred as those pesky clouds blocking the fading sunlight from striking them opened up below the horizon. A few Altocumulus castellanus can be seen, too, but relegated to shadow status.

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!

This really poor forecast is based on the global data from last evening at 5 PM AST.
This really poor forecast is based on the global data from last evening at 5 PM AST.

 

The End.

Hurricane force winds strike the Sutherland Heights!

If you don’t believe me, and slept through it during the power outages when it was COMPLETELY dark last night, here is a MEASUREMENT of the event from a private weather station,  The arrow points to the event, 58 knots, which is about 67 mph.  This is the greatest wind measured by the PWA in seven years, here and a few down there on Wilds.  The measured (here, the max one-minute speed) wind is, of course, LESS than the actual greatest 1s or 2s puff, likely well over 67 mph.  Unless you have a fancy ultrasonic  anemometer, too much inertia in the cheaper ones to get those instantaneous puffs.

NEW:  Got to 100 mph on Mt. Sara Lemmon before tower on which an ultrasonic anemometer was installed blew away.

Hope your trees are intact:

WInd measurement from Davis Vantage Pro Personal Weather Station located right here somewhere in Sutherland Heights.
WInd measurement over the past 24 h from a Davis Vantage Pro Personal Weather Station located somewhere in Sutherland Heights.  (Remember in Israel, that popular top 40 radio station that said, “Braodcasting from SOMEWHERE in the Medeterranean” and every one knew it was that ship located a half mile or so offshore of Tel Aviv.  Played Springstein, that kind of thing for all to hear.

 

Only 0.17 inches tipped by the Davis Vantage Pro, but with wind blowing as it was, you KNOW that’s going to be substantially low.  We really can’t measure rain that accurately in any thing but perfectly calm conditions.  The more accurate measurements are made if your gauge is sheltered by vegetation that is about the height of the gauge top right near the gauge, but then increases like the inside of a bowl as you gradually move away from it in all directions.  No trees, please, too close!  Preferably your gauge is on the ground not up somewhere, too, which would exaggerate the losses from wind.

Now, I will go outside and measure the rain in two ground mounted gauges, one a NWS-style 8-inch gauge, and the little toy 4-inch gauge from CoCoRahs, that national group that wants your measurements! Sign up now.  Here are the other totals:

NWS gauge, 0.22 inches

CoCoRahs gauge, blew over, no total!  Dammitall!  Wasn’t as protected in the weeds as I thought.  That total “likely” was around 0.24 or 0.25 inches.  CMP had privately predicted, 0.28 inches for this storm, whilst a major forecast professor from CSU who lives in Catalina predicted an INCH1!

Brutal out there, too. Temp only 43° F, still windy.

The weather way ahead

Sorry to say no rain for Catalinaland in our latest computer forecasts through the middle of February as the Big Niño hyped so much here and elsewhere is turning out to be  big poop so far.

Cal rains only great in the far north of the State during January, and in the northern Sierras.

Sucked in by the Big Niño thoughts here, CMP  was predicting quite the mayhem in Cal during the last 15-16 days of January, and 25-30 inches at some locations during that time here is a table for that period from CoCoRahs.  Note Shelter Cove, near the King Range, has the most.  Totals are sorted in descending order, Jan 13-31.

CoCo Jan 13-Jan 31 Cal rain

 
No doubt your curiosity was piqued and peaked by seeing how much rain could fall on you if you lived in Shelter Cove, on the Lost Coast of California. Well, here’s what its like there. Has an AP, too!

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A view of Shelter Cove, showing airport and control tower. Yep, you can fly right in!
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Another view of Shelter Cove. King Range is in the distance. NO DOUBT, rainfall up there WAS more than 25 inches if about 22 fell at Shelter Cove!

May try to get some more of that Cal precip since Jan 13, finding a modicum o direct verification of that huge amount of rain prediction.

No Mavericks surf competition yet, though larger waves have been battering the Cal coast over the past two-three weeks.  Below, surf for today.

Cal big surf Jan 31

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4:04 PM. Nice lenticular, devolving into flocculated Altocumulus downwind. The cells the form downwind from the smooth upwind edge are likely due to the latent heat released when condensation occurs, causing weak up and downdrafts to develop father downwind.
5:58 PM. Dusty sunset, and once again I point out that this would be a great name for a western singer. No worrisome dark spotting on sun.
5:58 PM. Dusty sunset. No worrisome dark spotting on sun.

The End

————————————-

1Maybe the “Ivory Tower” has not only protected him from the hiccups of the “real world” due to tenure and that kind of thing, but also from discerning what real weather will be like.  hahaha.  Just kidding.  Sort of.  Recall CMP was NOT tenured, but just a “staff” meteorologist with a “light” at the end of the funding grant tunnel, year after year for about 30 years.  So, I am pretty mad about “tenure”.  Hahahaha, just kidding maybe.

“Tenure” was a recent subject of a Science Mag editorial (“Wither (wither) Tenure“), too; costs everybody, especially students, a LOT of money, it was said.

Too, often young bright researchers are blocked by senior professors having tenure and making large amounts of money that hang on well past their productive years.

Cloud Maven Person:  Resigned from the U of WA Cloud and Aerosol Research Group due to feeling he wasn’t earning his high “Research Scientist III” pay anymore, brain dimming, though there was a pile of money that he could have continued on with.  Title of resignation letter:  “Time to Go”.  This free-ed up monies for staff folks that remained in our group, too.

Com’on decrepit tenured faculty, give up!  Resign now!

PS:  My friend tenured fac is STILL active, gives talks/presentations around the world still, even though he’s quite a geezer now, as is CMP.

.

Forgetting about our mud for a moment; thinking of the danger to others as seen in future weather maps

Have had 1.75 inches here in the Heights last few days.  Horsies are tromping around in significant mud.

But, to resume a theme about others from the prior entry, those in California, they’d better be paying close attention to the weather a week and more out.  In this weather watcher’s opinion, which should count for something, California may be in for an unforgettable January.

Why?

Recall how those “ensemble-spaghetti-Lorenz” plots had an unusually constrained (contours of flow, red and blue lines that were unusually bunched together all the way from Hong Kong to ‘Frisco even 10-15 days out?  That indicated a high confidence forecast of where the jet stream would be.

USUALLY, the contours are pretty wild, scattered all over the eastern Pac after about 10 days or so,  and Cloud Maven Person got overly excited about this esoteric part of weather forecasting, and decided to write a partially decipherable tome on it.

Well, that constrained jet, blasting into Cal  from the subtropical latitudes with a terrible ferocity, has continued in model run after model run now, and CMP’s excitement has been further elevated, maybe to penthouse level now, hard to elevate it more.

Way below are a few examples from just last night’s model run based on global obs at 5 PM AST, showing a few sample of the jet stream predicted pattern at 500 millibars, or around 18, 000 feet (from IPS MeteoStar, as usual).

THESE are extraordinary maps, and extraordinary maps mean extraordinary storms, AND they are appearing with extraordinary consistency.

They are also compatible with what we saw in those ensemble-spaghetti plots of a few days ago.  So, like the “Frankenstorm” of 2010 that hit California, this series of strong storms hitting Cal in just over a week, will be considered to have been “well-predicted” by those crazy plots.

Is FEMA ready?

I think they will be involved at some point.

But, too,  this is a forecast series where we (those in Cal) have lots of time to get ready for big, destructive events.

Like what?

For Cal, the usual.

1) Huge waves smash the coast, some home roll into the ocean. With a jet having a gigantic fetch from the Pac, huge waves are a certainty, surf will definitely be up, if that’s what you do because the surface winds will ALSO have a huge fetch to build those giant rollers.

2) Winds.  At some point, hurricane force winds blow stuff around in one of more of the low centers generated by such a powerful jet stream.   Looking at the pattern, I think one within this storm series may produce 100 mph winds or more somewhere in Cal.

3) Flooding.  Can the nearly empty Cal reservoirs we’ve heard so much about be filled up in a series like this, something that might go on for one to two weeks?  I think so,  some anyway.  But this is a truly wild thought, and as you can see, CMP is kind of out of control here.

It is certain that the rains with one or more of the low centers that slam the West Coast during this series will produce rains of 10 or more inches in a day  in the hill and mountain regions of Cal.

Also, the series begins with a strong, but maybe not exceptional storm about 8 days from now, this after a pretty good rain has already occurred, so the ground is going to be pretty wet when the Big Series hits.

The jet stream pattern strengthens and shifts farther south with each day after this first major storm, and that’s when the real onslaught will hit.

I don’t want to get people overly excited like I am, but I am terming these, and the whole recent series of unbelievable jet streams bashing into Cal, and even Baja!, “the California calamity maps.”

Valid Monday, January 18, 5 AM AST.
2016010900_WST_GFS_500_HGT_WINDS_240
Valid, Monday, January 18, 5 PM AST.

 

Skipping ahead:

2016010900_WST_GFS_500_HGT_WINDS_312
Valid Thursday, January 21st, at 5 PM AST. EGAD! WHAT a monster!
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Valid 5 PM, January 22nd. One blast is finishing up, but look at the jet entering on the left/west side. Once again, “egad!”

 

Skipping ahead some more….

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Valid at 5 PM AST, January 24. Upper cut to jaw of Cal from the Pacific. This one would be quite bad in rain, wind, floods.

 

Now the timing of these things WILL VARY as the mod runs keep churning out results, but in CMP’s view, the pattern that will cause CA havoc is locked in now, promulgated ALMOST without doubt by our Big Niño.

Here is another amazing map from a prior run, that just makes your jaw drop due to what the models are sensing is “out there” for Cal and the West Coast:

This is looks like it was for another planet, the jet SO POWERFUL and heading into Baja!
This is looks like it was for another planet, the jet SO POWERFUL and heading into Baja!
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Crespuscular rays due to light rain from precipitating Stratocumulus (i.e., “praecipitatio.”, if you want to impress your friends.)
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Pretty good sunset color. The clouds?  Stratocumulus.
Weather station and mountain sunset color.  You don't see that too often....
Weather station and mountain sunset color. You don’t see those together too often.  Mountains topped by non-precipitating Stratocumulus clouds.

 

How will SE AZ do?

Seems like passing rains will hit during this CA bludgeoning period, but floody weather not expected.

Since we’re pretty much at our average total for the month of January right NOW, CMP is going out on a limb and predicting an above normal total for the WHOLE month.

 

The End

Augustober weather continues on October 18th

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?

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5:05 PM. An amazing scene, and thunderstorm with such powerful updrafts that when those updrafts are blocked by the inversion at the base of the Stratosphere, they force the winds at that level to slow or backup and the anvil protrudes upwind (center left), something that is common with severe thunderstorms. This was significant here because the winds at 40,000 feet were around 50 kts, far stronger than anything we have here during a typical summer rain season.  Summer  Cumulonimbus  cloud anvils  can splash outward easily against weak winds up there in summer when they hit that barrier at the top of the tropopause.  This just in from Mark A:  severe thunderstorms, I have just learned here on the 20th , were observed in the PHX, and the NWS has a great link going describing all the mayhem it produced.  I did not know this until just now in the middle of writing this first caption when I read Mark’s e-mail.
1:40 PM.
1:40 PM.
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 drop had to fall from at around 20, 000 feet above the ground (estimated bottom 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.
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.

 

 

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6:26 AM. Early portent: Cu congestus, aka, “heavy Cumulus) piling up this early.
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6:29 AM. Mammatus of the morning., an extraordinary scene for mid-October, pointing to the possibility of an  unusual day ahead with strong storms. as was the scientific basis for giant clouds on the 18th  in the amount of CAPE predicted, over 1,000 units of Convective Available Potential Energy, later that day from computer models.   That is a lot for mid-October, take my word for it.
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3:45 PM. Strong storms did not form over or near the Catalinas yesterday, but they did get something. As you can see the top of this guy (Cumulonimbus calvus) is very subdued compared to the giants that formed elsewhere.
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5:53 PM. Peakaboo Cumulonimbus calvus top east of Mt. Lemmon provided a nice highlight after sunset. And to have convection like this going on this late was remarkable. Some heavy showers and a thunderstorm formed downwind of the Catalinas about this time,, too.
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5:51 PM. Pretty nice, summer-looking sunset that day, too.

 

 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.

From the 5 PM AST run executed by the U of AZ Beowulf Cluster.  Billions of calculations were involved with this model prediction; it should be kept in mind that cloud maven person's prediction is only based on three when he opines that this is not enough for us here in Catalinaland.
From the 5 PM AST run executed by the U of AZ Beowulf Cluster.

The End.

TSTMS overnight and this morning drop 0.11 inches

Well, it could have been more I suppose; some areas of central and northern Arizona have gotten between a half an inch and an inch of rain overnight.  Nevertheless,  it was great that a passing thunderstorms (“TSTMS” in weather texting) happened here in Sutherland Heights overnight, fabulous, really.    Dropped 0.28 inches on Mt. Lemmon, btw.

More scattered showers, and maybe a thunderstorm or two, should develop today.  Keep cameras well-oiled  for some great cloud scenes.

Yesterday’s clouds

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8:04 AM. In the beginning….. Unlike the day before, our shower clouds didn’t move in, but rather had to start from something akin to poppy seeds.   Still water highlights on Samaniego Ridge.
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12:06 PM. Cumulus increase in size and number. No ice yet.
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2:14 PM. First minute amount of ice begins to show up underneath downstream cloud portions. You’ll have to be awfully good to find it!
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3:37 PM. Ice, and now well-developed virga, is plentiful in many of these shallow clouds.
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4:00 PM. Numerous light rainshowers and glaciating shallow Cumulus clouds dot the horizon to the SW,
6:58 PM.  Shows the fine structure of virga, trails that can be only 5-20 feet wide as they drop out of a cloud.  Seems like a nice scene, too.
6:58 PM. Shows the fine structure of virga, trails that can be only 5-20 meters wide as they drop out of a cloud.  Strands like this are usually soft hail, or what we call “graupel.”   Snow virga like this tells you that cloud bases are well below freezing, and on a warm day are very high above the ground.  Yesterday’s late afternoon cloud bases were up around 14 thousand feet above sea level, at about -5 C (23 F).   The virga melted into raindrops behind the cloud below it.

 

7:04 PM.  A light rainshower advances on Catalina.
7:04 PM. A light rainshower advances on Catalina.  Where the pinkness disappears below the main cloud base is where the snow  virga is melting into less visible raindrops.
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7:06 PM. Another fiery sunset highlight involving a Cumulonimbus cloud. Cloud tops were beginning to deepen noticeably by this time.

The End