Been busy as a briefly unretired science worker (gave a stressful talk at a university last week) and thought maybe a lot of usual drop ins to this site might not anymore. So, in the title for today, am reaching out to a new demographic: persons interested in congealed soil matter. They might later, after stopping by, discover a new interest; that in clouds, pretty ones. Most of the cheap tricks I try like this don’t have any effect, though. Oh, well.
Let us go forward after backing up:
But the Cirrus kept coming and more odd sights were seen:
Heavier Cirrus, increasing and lowering to Altostratus finished off the day as a heavy shield of middle and upper clouds raced toward southern Arizona from the Pacific:
“Due to time constraints, we move ahead in the action…”
Sunday, November 5th:
4:26 PM. Perhaps the brightest example of iridescence I have ever seen! Just spectacular for a few seconds in this patch of Cirrocumulus. Iridescence is caused by diffraction around the tiny of droplets, less than 10 microns in diameter, as are present when a cloud just forms.
As here, just to reinforce that assertion a bit. Its a link to a recent blog by my cloud-obsessed friend and author, Maria Mudd Ruth. I strongly recommend buying a few of her books. Really, I do!
But in viewing our deep blue skies, pocked with little fluffy Cumulus clouds over the past two or three days, you would not need convincing that even tiny clouds are beguiling, a wonderful attribute for a planet to have. Having mountains on a planet is great, too, and watching the interplay of clouds and their shadows on them is a never ending pleasure. We’re pretty lucky when you think about it to be on a planet like this one. Hope you think so, too.
No rain ahead, glumly, though some sprinkles are out there this morning as frontal cloud band passes over. Just a little too high off the ground for real rain. And the cloud tops aren’t quite cold enough to form much ice, too. Those cloud tops get colder going to the NE, and so higher terrain up thataway (e.g., Show Low) are getting some light rain this morning. Right now, there’s a little sprinkle just beyond Romero Canyon, so we got a little ice this morning in them clouds.
What was interesting is that I never saw no ice yesterday, to continue the slang of rock and roll, in another cheap attempt to reach out to another demographic. The clouds were just a bit too warm for ice-formation, tops running in the -4°C to -5°C range according to yesterday afternoon’s Banner University of Arizona’s balloon sounding. Some may have bulged up to nearly -10°C, but still not quite there. I looked constantly for signs of ice and never saw none, and neither did you, of course.
Bases were cool, at about 4°C, at 11, 000 feet above sea level, or 8,000 feet above Catalina. Tops, about 15,000 feet above sea level. So, they were running around 3,000-4,000 feet thick with no ice. This was a situation where dropping dry ice into those clouds would have created snowfall, then sprinkles, that would not have fallen naturally. Doubtful anything would have reached the ground anywhere near our elevation, however, but up at Ms. Mt. Lemmon, something would have likely even measured from doing that far enough upwind.
In summary, yes, there are some fairly rare times you can get some precip out of clouds by seeding them and yesterday was one of them1.
Today the clouds are thicker, drop sizes therefore larger in those tops of a cloud band similar to the one we had yesterday evening. As drop sizes increase, the temperature at which they freeze also increases. Well, at least that’s what we found over and over again at the U of Washington.
The result, some ice has formed even though they’re hardly colder than just -9°C or -10°C (14°F). Check the radar:
Here are some cloud shots from the past couple of days. Should be some more great scenes today:
Due to time constraints, we now move ahead in the action. Well, its not really “action” is it?
Well, not that much, just a day ahead….
Moving ahead to yesterday and the day long cloud band….
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
Looks across Catalina and Oro Valley toward the Twin Peaks area yesterday afternoon. “Egad”, to repeat a mild expletive.
The orangy colors denote the strongest winds in “Jetty Jetstream”, and as you know, the colder, low clouds, ones capable of reaching the temperatures where ice forms, are contained within that ring of strongest winds at this level (500 mb). So, while the models I have looked at so far have no rain here, I think there’s a pretty good chance of a rogue shower tomorrow morning anyway. At least there should be some nice Stratocumulus/Cumulus tomorrow and some will have ice in them. As you know, it’ll be awful windy today, too, maybe 40 mph or so in brief gusts here in The Heights of Sutherland.
Also will be looking for some nice lenticulars since “Jetty” will be right over us, but a little toward the warm side where lenticulars mostly occur.
In the meantime, spaghetti suggests a big trough in our area again about nine days from now. The later ACTUAL model outputs don’t show much of anything. What’s up with that? I’m hanging with spaghetti that later model runs will indicate a strong trough, and at LEAST another pulse of cooler air, and another minor chance of rain as we are going to see today and especially tomorrow as when become within the “ring of winds” aloft. Didn’t Johnny Cash sing something about that? Maybe it was Wall of Voodoo…
Below, some spaghetti for you showing a big trough over Arizona and the Great Basin which is not much reflected in the actual models, as noted. But, just watch my friend, how those model outputs will change to reflect a bigger trough about this time!
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):
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.
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
———————– 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.)
Doesn’t look promising for much rain here in Catalina in March, however. No rain in sight through the next 10 days at least.
Let’s check our 7 inches with what’s happening upwind, say, in CALIFORNIA, and see if there’s been any drought relief there, through February, via the CNRFC:
As you are likely to know from many media stories last year, Cal was in a drought siege of five straight years, with but got a little relief last year in the northern part thanks to help from the giant Niño, one of the strongest ever.
Alas, it was one that failed to deliver as the big rain producer for the south half of Cal and the SW in general as was expected.
In case you’ve forgotten how bad things were in Cal, let us look back at what was being said, those horrific appearing drought maps, and also how hopeful were were at the time that the Big Niño would take a bit bite out of drought. This is a really good article:
Then, when the Big Niño faded away like maple syrup on a stack of buckwheat pancakes last spring and summer, we were surely doomed for more dry years. And, for a time, the dreaded cold tongue of water in the eastern equatorial region, the so-called, La Niña, started to develop, which would be no help at all for a good rain season like a Big Niño is, usually.
The Niña faded away, too, to nothing as the winter went on, so we really didn’t have much going on in the tropical Pacific to help us figure out what kind of winter rainfall regime we were going to have om 2016-17. Not having anything going on meant winter rainfall could go either way, a difficult to figure out situation for season forecasters.
In retrospect it is pretty astounding how big a signal must have been out there SOMEWHERE that this winter was going to be one for the history books on the West Coast in general, and in particular, for Californians. Californians saw their drought chewed up and spit out in a single winter, including snow packs so high the height of some mountain peaks have been revised. (I’m kidding.)
No one saw such an astounding winter coming.
This winter sure makes one think of the QBO (Quasi-biennenial Oscillation, one up there in the Stratosphere where there’s almost no air (haha, well, practically none)… Did the QBO have a role in this astounding winter; was there a delay in the effects of the Big Niño even without a bunch of convection in the eastern Pac tropics? Doesn’t seem that could be right…
But, William “Bill” Lau, U of Maryland scientist, reported some statistical evidence of such a lag way back in ’88 due to a QBO connection of some kind and ENSO, no physical cause could be discerned, however, not yet, anyway. Lau, 1988, is reprised below for readers who want to go deep:
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.
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.
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.
Eventually our jet streak Cirrus provided the background for another great sunset scene:
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.
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.
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!
Explanatory module below
After the brief warm up ahead, still looks “troughulent” and stormy in the SW as December closes out, continuing into January.
Not much else to talk about, no rain of course; what is that?
But with so many colorful scenes yesterday, we can be partially sated by the lives we lead here sans rain here. October ended with a puny 0.01 inches in Sutherland Heights.
Now, because I grew up in California and remain a little Cal-centric, this brief diversion from AZ:
But droughty Cal got nailed though, from about San Luis Obispo, so we can be happy about that I guess. One station, Gasquet RS, near the Duck border, got just under 28 inches in October; stations in the Santa Cruz Mountains, way down by Monterrey, got between 14-17 inches! From the California-Nevada River Forecast Center, this nice map of October rainfall anomalies in that domain. Red is real dry, and that’s the color we would be in if it was the California-Nevada-Arizona River Forecast Center:
But let us not dwell any more of generous rains that others got, but celebrate the color and clouds of Arizona. Here are yesterday’s glorious scenes, beginning with a spectacular Altocumulus lenticularis under some Cirrus at dawn:
Now, just some nice lighting and color:
In a further celebration of dryness here, let us examine the rainfall cumulative rainfall predictions calculated by the University of Arizona’s Dept Hydro and Atmos Sci computer the period ending at Midnight on November 5th. Says the coming rain in the State misses us here in SE AZ while falling just about everywhere else, of course. Dang. Let’s hope it one of the worst model predictions ever!