Category Archives: Sunsets

Clouds continue to beguile, even when they’re tiny

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the best weather discussion, see Bob M.

The End.

—————————–

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

Last of the Cumulonimbus

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10:56 AM. Things looked promising except clouds like this over the Catalinas moved away from us. And no Cumulonimbus clouds formed over them, but rather downwind toward and beyond the town of Oracle late in the afternoon.
Ann DSC_8118
3:30 PM. Not much going on; a very thin veil of ice was dropping out of these clouds, once the tops of the Cumulus cloud to the right and out of view. Hope you caught it. There weren’t very many ice displays until later.
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5:31 PM. That blasted haze/smoke layer is still evident! at the center is a glaciating turret, giving hope this whole cloud cluster could erupt into something. The model from the overnight run suggested just such an event!
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6:09 PM. Hah! A shower at last! And the movement is in the general direction of Catalina!
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6:36 PM. Stupendous sunset view, and this cluster is getting closer!
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6:42 PM. Zoomed view near last light. Portions of this complex consisting of a weak thunderstorm  did pass over, but no shafts, just a few drops for a “trace” of rain.  By this time bases had risen to about 14,000 feet above sea level, or about 11,000 above Catalina and near the freezing level, so a lot of evaporation on the way down for those poor droppies.

Last call for Cumulus clouds today, maybe a distant Cumulonimbus top off to the north.  Then one of those long clear and dry spells of fall gets underway….

 

The End

August disappoints: a look back at a disappointing August, and then a look forward at haze

August rainfall total in Sutherland Heights:  A measly 1.10 inches, to editorialize that bit, rather than to just report facts.   Average August rain here is  3.16 inches.  Egad.

End of looking back….”What’s the Use” (Tuxedomoon) said it best, well, maybe.

What about the haze?  Where’s it coming from and its awful! And its here again today.   Reminds one who lived in southern California of summer skies in southern California, hazy, whitish, the orange- colored sunsets that people sometimes thought were “so pretty” but they were ugly because they were orange because of smoke and smog and s like that.

Where’s it coming from, to repeat?  Not sure.  But see back trajectories below.

These suggest its coming from the east in the last day or so of the trajectories.  The trajectories start high up because we’re in the descending air branch of an upper air anti-cyclone that’s dessicating the air, preventing even little baby Cumulus from forming.

————-

Lidia’s moisture will help some, but it appears no rain will reach us today,   Dang.

But things get more promising for at least a short return of the summer rain season (remember, the real monsoon is in India) in the immediate days ahead,  phrasingly vague enough to insure a great forecast verfication! haha

DSC_7815 DSC_7814Looks across Catalina and Oro Valley toward the Twin Peaks area yesterday afternoon.  “Egad”, to repeat a mild expletive.

6:44 PM. Sunset over the Tortolita Mountains, where else would it be from Catalina (at this time of year)?
6:44 PM. Orangey sunset over the Tortolita Mountains, where else would it be from Catalina (at this time of year)?  The orange suggests a smoke aspect in the aerosol.
Back trajectory ending at 500 m above ground at Tucson at 11 AM AST.
Four-day back trajectory ending at 500 m above the ground and at 11 AM AST yesterday over Tucson.
13549_trj001
Four-day back trajectory ending at 2000 m above ground and at 11 AM AST over Tucson.

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.)

———————-

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.
DSC_3479
7:10 PM.
DSC_3462
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.

——————————–

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

DSC_2744
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.
DSC_2737
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.
DSC_2728
Had a nice sunset a couple days ago (15th), some liquid Altocumulus cloud slivers with higher Cirrus.

The End

———————–
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

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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.

.