Category Archives: Sutherland Wash

Another day, another rainbow, another trace of rain; ho-hum

Kind of getting tired of gorgeous rainbows every day, ones without a lot of rain here in The Heights.   But, here they are again:

5:44 PM
5:44 PM
5:54 PM.
5:54 PM.

Upwind Cumulonimbus clouds faded as the trudged toward Catalinaland yesterday, bottoms evaporating, raining out, leaving only a big patch Altostratus cumulonimbogenitus way up (at least ten kft above the ground) there with rain drops just big enough to survive evaporation and reach the ground just before 3 PM.

2:18 PM. Heading for Catalina, right side will maintain--note nice flat base, left side of heaviest shaft is a gonner. No renewing base/updraft. You hope that isn't exactly what's heading for you.
2:18 PM. Heading for Catalina, right side will maintain–note nice flat base, left side of heaviest shaft is a gonner.   So, hope is on the right (not a political statement, but rather referring to the part of the cloud you want to be heading for you, which is not the shaft itself due to the short lifetime of shafts, but the new parts where new shafts will emanate.  No renewing base/updraft over there on the left.  You hope that segment  isn’t exactly  heading for you.  We shall see in just a few minutes of yesterday time.
2:24 PM. OK, we're done as far as rain goes in Catalina from this. The updraft and solid base are propagating to the right, meaning that nice appearing rainshaft will be what targetis us. But the lives of shafts are so short without renewal, and that renewal is going to slip to the west of us.
2:24 PM. OK, we’re done as far as rain goes in Catalina from this. The updraft and solid base are propagating to the right, meaning that nice appearing rainshaft will be what targetis us. But the lives of shafts are so short without renewal, and that renewal is going to slip to the west of us.  Notice how in six minutes the shaft on the left is almost completely gone.
2:48 PM. Hard to believe that this is all that's left of that pleasant Cumulonimbus cloud, an Altostratus translucidus cumulonimbogenitus , maybe with praecipitatio as well with it. Note the sun is shining through larger ice particles like snowflakes, its disk cannot be made out, though its position can.
2:48 PM. Hard to believe that this is all that’s left of that pleasant Cumulonimbus cloud, an Altostratus translucidus cumulonimbogenitus , maybe with praecipitatio as well with it since you can see a veil of preicpitation is reaching the ground. Note the sun is shining through larger ice particles like snowflakes, its disk cannot be made out, though its position can.  If this cloud was a  thin droplet cloud, the sun’s disk could be seen as a sharply outlined disk.

 

In the meantime, all the excitement, possibly spurred by the gusty outflow winds that accompanied the above seen, was happening almost overhead to the NW-NE, as a great line of Cumulus bases blackened.  They were already passed us, but if they unloaded and sent a pulse of wind out and toward us, then we might end up in a wind clash zone, with huge clouds forming overhead.  OK, was dreaming again, but here’s what was going on, which ultimately led to another major dump on the CDO watershed.

2:20 PM. Dark Cumulus bases mass over Saddlebrooke and north. No precip trails yet, but they were virtually assured. Started videoing this scene about now.
2:20 PM. Dark Cumulus bases mass over Saddlebrooke and north. No precip trails yet, but they were virtually assured. Started videoing this scene about now.
2:28 PM. In just eight minutes this has become really menacing, possibly a major dump on Saddlebrooke with more golf balls flooding down into the CDO wash as happened the previous day.
2:28 PM. In just eight minutes this has become really menacing, possibly a major dump on Saddlebrooke with more golf balls flooding down into the CDO wash as happened the previous day.  Now looking for the first strands of the largest hydrometeors (likely hail or graupel) to drop through the updraft, which is looking very substantial at this time due to that well-formed base.
2:30 PM. Here's a close up of that base over Saddlebrooke, now placed in the "Cloud Base Collection" series that we offer readers from time to time.
2:30 PM. Here’s a close up of that base over Saddlebrooke, now placed in the “Cloud Base Collection” series that we offer to readers from time to time.  We’re hoping ot get into a gallery soon.
2:37 PM. "Thar she goes!" This is really hard to see, but at top center the rain/hail/whatever is just starting to show out the bottom.
2:37 PM. “Thar she goes!” This is really hard to see, but at top center the rain/hail/whatever is just starting to show out the bottom.  Some of these, likely gigantic drops, are already reaching the ground.  Notice the slight dimming of the Cumulus clouds in the background.  That would be the developing rainshaft is going to be.
2:39 PM. Now even little teeny babies can see the shaft dropping out.
2:39 PM. Now even little teeny babies can see the shaft dropping out.
2:42 PM. For all to see now....
2:42 PM. For all to see now….just three minutes later.
2:44 PM. Just another two minutes later.
2:44 PM. Just another two minutes later.  Its pretty remarkable how fast these things collapse.  The whitish strands are likely hail/graupel shafts, often located on the upshear/upwind side of thunderstorms.
2:49 PM. Soon the plop of all that rain push enough air out of the way that the shaft extruded outward toward the west. Note that rain would be falling on people from a raining cloud some mile or three away.
2:49 PM. Soon the plop of all that rain push enough air out of the way that the shaft extruded outward toward the west. Note that rain would be falling on people from a raining cloud some mile or three away.  The heaviest rain seen in the ALERT gauges from this event was only 0.79 inches at Pig Spring, near the Charouleau Gap.  The peak rain was probably in the 1-2 inch range.

Hiked over to see if the Sutherland Wash, east of the similarly named housing development, Sutherland Heights, had a good flow from our “Mighty Kong” of prior day.  It had:

3:45 PM. The Sutherland Wash scene showing that it flowed bank-to-bank as did the CDO here in Catalina.
3:45 PM. The Sutherland Wash scene showing that it flowed bank-to-bank as did the CDO here in Catalina.

The weather ahead

Seems Remnant Roslyn will spit out another snippet of moisture ahead of our fall-like cold front passage late Sunday or early Monday bringing clouds, and with clouds, a slight chance of measurable rain.  Don’t hold your breath for measurable rain IMO.  Hope I’m as wrong as the prediction I made to a friend that the Stanford Cardinal would trounce the wildly overrated Washington Huskies fubball team last night.

The End.

Summer-like clouds bring a trace of rain, thunder to Catalina

The Cottonwoods1 Daily Trash Report

Graphic of the Cottonwoods Trash Report.
Graphic of the Cottonwoods Trash Report.

Litterfolk continue to prefer Bud Light cans and bottles over craft beers.   While its interesting to make these surveys, CMP reminds readers, “Litter responsibly;  in a receptacle.”

The trash you see here was collected during a single trip to the Sutherland Wash and back.

The Sutherland Wash Flow Report

A  little water has resumed flowing in the Sutherland Wash hereabouts due to our recent rain:

The Sutherland Wash yesterday near the Baby Jesus Trail Head.
The Sutherland Wash yesterday near the Baby Jesus Trail Head.  Dog head also included.

The Cottonwoods Blowdown Report

The wind damage below was confined to an area only about 100 yards wide, and at the bottom of a small canyon leading down from Samaniego Ridge.  Once suspects that a narrow microburst, some supergust,  hit just in here as a rivulet of air collapsed down from the east-northeast after having gone over the mountains.   It was likely further funneled by that little canyon and blasted these poor trees.

DSC_4792
Note shoe size in lower left of photo.

DSC_4791 DSC_4795 DSC_4798 DSC_4799Yesterday’s clouds report

Cumulus got off to an early start, a line of Cumulonimbus to the north providing a hint of what was to come when the sun came out.

7:06 AM.  Cumulonimbus line the northern horizon.
7:06 AM. Cumulonimbus line the northern horizon.
7:07 AM.  An interesting set of very narrow shadows appeared briefly.  The darker one might have been due to a young contrail.
7:07 AM. An interesting set of very narrow shadows appeared briefly. The darker one might have been due to a young contrail.  They seem too narrow to have been caused by cloud turrets.
10:34 AM.  Cumulus congestus arose early and often on the Catalinas, becoming Cumulonimbus clouds later in the afternoon.
10:34 AM. Cumulus congestus clouds arose early and often on the Catalinas, becoming Cumulonimbus clouds later in the afternoon.
12:07 PM.  Some Cumulus congestus clouds sported the rarely seen "pileus" cap, suggesting stronger than usual updrafts pushing moist air above the top upward slightly, just enough to form a sliver of cloud.
12:07 PM. Some Cumulus congestus clouds sported the rarely seen “pileus” cap, suggesting stronger than usual updrafts pushing moist air above the top upward slightly, just enough to form a sliver of cloud.
DSC_4824
12:07 PM.
12:54 PM.  Before long, 47 minutes actually, big complexes of Cumulonimbus capillatus had formed to the north, and distant SW of Catalina.
12:54 PM. Before long, 47 minutes actually, big complexes of Cumulonimbus capillatus had formed to the north, and distant SW of Catalina.
1:47 PM.  While pretty, this expansive Cumulonimbus capillatus incus (has an anvil), pointed to a potential rain-inhibiting problem:  perhaps the exuberant convection would lead to an over-anvilated sky?  Yes, it became a concern to all of us.
1:47 PM. While pretty, but this expansive Cumulonimbus capillatus incus (has an anvil), pointed to a potential rain-inhibiting problem: perhaps the exuberant convection would lead to an over-anvilated sky? Yes, it became a concern, I’m sure to all of us.  Cumulus cloud killing anvilation.
3:54 PM.  While lightning forked in distant rainshafts, overanvilation pretty much terminated any chance of rain for  Catalina due to Cumulus buildups.  The anvil debris clouds are termed, Altostratus opacus cumulonimbogenitus.
3:54 PM. While lightning forked in distant rainshafts, over-anvilation pretty much terminated any chance of rain in Catalina due to Cumulus buildups. The anvil debris clouds are termed, “Altostratus opacus cumulonimbogenitus.”  Only clashing winds due to outflows from showers could possibly force rain now.
4:43 PM.  Clashing shower winds (SW in Catalina, NE towards Oracle) did produce a large final shower in the area.
4:43 PM. Clashing shower winds (SW in Catalina, NE towards Oracle) did produce a large final shower in the area.  That lower cloud on the left side marks the area above and a little behind outflowing NE winds.  Sadly, that wind push from the NE, one that could have launched a big shower here, fizzled out.

The weather ahead and WAY ahead report

More pretty Cumulus clouds today, likely some will reach Cumulonimbus stage (develop ice) and shower here and there.  Flow will be off the Cat Mountains and so we here in Catalinaland are a little more elgible for a shower building on those mountains and drifting this way.

WAY ahead?

The models continue to occasionally produce a very heavy rainstorm in southern AZ on or about April Fool’s Day, once again appearing yesterday on the 18 Z (11 AM AST) run.  See below,  a really pretty astounding prediction again.  This system comes from deep in the Tropics, so deep you wonder if it might have some hair from a giant Galapagos tortoise with it.  It comes and goes in the models, but there is continuing  modest support for a low latitude trough to affect Arizona in the “ensemble” outputs, or “spaghetti” plots.2015031918_CON_GFS_SFC_SLP_THK_PRECIP_WINDS_3002015031918_CON_GFS_SFC_SLP_THK_PRECIP_WINDS_312

The End

————————–

1“The Cottonwoods” is a local name given to a portion of the Sutherland Wash next to the Baby Jesus Trail Head.  It appears on most trail maps, and is a popular spot for underage drinking parties on weekends.

More rain to fall in March; water STILL running in the Sutherland Wash!

The author has made two claims.  Let us look at the evidence, the first of which was obtained yesterday morning in support of one of those.  A hiker/walker, the author met, we will call him, “Bob”,  though it seems doubtful that’s his real name since he had quite a strong northern European accent,  said there was no running water in the Sutherland Wash, “only dampness.”

This proved to be an incorrect statement.  I wonder how many other people I have corrected just now?

The wash has now been running without interruption for about six weeks.  Below, two photos with dogs in them taken yesterday of the flowing Sutherland  Wash at the Baby Jesus trail head, aka, “The Cottonwoods”:

DSCN9669
8:42 AM. The Sutherland Wash in flow near the Baby Jesus trail head.
DSCN9670
8:42 AM. Dog ponders a drink from the FLOWING Sutherland Wash at the Baby Jesus trail head.

Q. E. D.

2) Can it rain again in March in the Sutherland Heights (epicenter of the above titular forecast)?

It could, but the assertion by the author is stronger than “could.”  Let us again look at the evidence for such a claim.

There are several opportunities for rain here during the remainder of March.

1) the upper low that goes over tomorrow and Friday will produce scattered mountain showers in the area;  a sure thing, but  light ones.

2) then that SAME low, after nesting in the Tropics for a couple of days comes back over us with an even greater chance of rain next week since its had a chance to scoop up some tropical air (think Altocumulus castellanus, unstable clouds that can become little Cumulonimbus clouds).

3) In the longer term, “troughiness” (“cyclonicity”) is indicated to reside in our Great Southwest by spaghetti maps.  Some individual model runs have even had big rains in the area in 12-15 days from now.   Below, an example from IPS MeteoStar, which for some reason did not follow through on the “fee-for-service” they had been announcing was coming for about three months so’s that we would have to pay to look at their nice renderings of government model stuff1:

Boffo trough bops Arizona on
Boffo trough bops Arizona on…ooops, annotated version below to help you locate Arizona on this map.
Forecast map valid at
Forecast map valid on March 25th at 5 PM AST.

Another example of the wettest model run I could find, trillions and trillions of galloons of water released in storms in the SW:

Forecast map valid on Saturday, March 21st at 11 AM AST.
Forecast map valid on Saturday, March 21st at 11 AM AST.

So, at LEAST three or four days in the remaining days of March with a chance of measurable rain, and THAT equals 100 % chance of rain falling within a 10 mile radius of the Sutherland Heights housing district between now and, and pushing the forecasting frontier even farther, say, the end of March!  Going that far with such high confidence (100%) forecast is inappropriate for professional forecasting, but not here.  So, this is a forecast for measurable rain on or VERY near us covering an amazing 19 days!

BTW, spaghetti thinks a trough of the magnitude above is goofy; see below.  HOWEVER, there is a pretty strong tendency for cyclonic action here, just not as strong as the one above.  The one above is likely goofy, an outlier model run….at this time.  But, just like that New England win over the Seahawks in the last second when the Seahawks were about to run it in, but goofily passed the ball instead for an interception, outliers do occur.

Will keep an eye on this fun forecast from this keyboard,  and get back to you from time to time IF it rains in the area.  Otherwise, you will not hear from me again on this matter.

Below, some morning spaghetti for you.

Valid at 5 PM AST, March 26th.  No sign of bluish lines penetrating the SW US.  However, red lines, southern portion of jet stream, do dip southward over the SE and northern Mexico, indicating a good chance of lower latitude troughs here at the time of this map.
Valid at 5 PM AST, March 26th. No sign of bluish lines, representing the heart of the jet stream penetrating the SW US as shown in that model run above.    However, red lines, southern portion of jet stream, do dip southward over the SE and northern Mexico, indicating a good chance of lower latitude troughs here at the time of this map.  Note that the blue and red lines suggest an “out of phase” jet stream pattern, highs in the far north, disturbances leaking into the SW US underneath them.

So hope for additional rain before the end of March is not dead, as it seems today, but has much life, in fact, to repeat, “100%” life.

The End

 

——————

1Whew!

 

 

The first of many cloud blobs in the days ahead, some rain-filled, passes over during the night

Here it is.  You may need an optical enhancement tool to see the radar echo speck nearest Catalina, and its not the one nearest the arrowhead below, but continue in that direction:

Ann 201502230700_SWR2
Satellite and radar imagery for midnight last night. Notice cloud blob and radar echoes over and near Catalina, Arizona. I really thought there’d be some drops here as this went over!

You can also check on all the rain  that  fell overnight in the region  here, courtesy of Pima County ALERT rain gauges.  BTW, they aren’t capable of reporting traces, so if you see  bunches of zeroes, it doesn’t mean some drops didn’t fall somewhere in the network.

Non-verification of this rain can also be found via our fine TUS NWS “storm total” view, 10:30 PM to 4:30 AM this morning:

Regional radar-derived storm total from "rainy cloud blob."
Regional radar-derived storm total from “rainy cloud blob.”  Arrow almost reaches Catalina; didn’t want to cover up a pixel of rain, if there.  THAT radar did not pick up the rain I feel must have fallen, so we have quite a conundrum.  If you would like to see for yourself how much rain fell last night, go here.  Will be looking for drop images in the dust as soon as it gets light, too!

In the meantime, all those rainy cloud blobs to our NW right now (first image) look like they will be able to just make it to Catalinaland after all.

In our last chapter, it looked like the strong cold front would move through tomorrow as just a dry cold one, but now the chances of having a little rain (a wet cold one) have been zooming up.  The models have readjusted their thinking and now that critical ingredient, the core of the jet stream (at 500 mb) passing over us ahead of the trough core itself is being predicted.

And with that configuration as the front goes by Catalina, and believe me you’ll know by the 10-15 degree temperature drop, a tiny amount of rain might fall.  Also, look for a pronounced lowering of cloud bases to the W-N of Catalina as it gets close, something in the way of an “arcus cloud”, marking the leading edge of the windshift to the N.  Could be nice and dramatic looking tomorrow.  Those cloud base lowerings are pretty common with fronts here.

How much rain?

Oh,  possibilities range between 0 (a complete bust is still possible) to only about 0.25 inches, tops in the “best” of circumstances.  But, this keyboard would like to see ANYTHING measurable; that would bring happiness.

There are some more rain blobs showing up in regular intervals in the days ahead for you to think about, as rendered by IPS MeteoStar.  Arrows have been added to show you where you are, if you are in SE Arizona:

Valid tomorrow morning at 11 AM AST.  Colored areas denote regions where the model has calculated precipitation during the preceding 6 h.
Valid tomorrow morning at 11 AM AST. Colored areas denote regions where the model has calculated precipitation during the preceding 6 h.

In the storm below, which is pretty much going to happen now, the range of amounts as seen from here, at least 0.15 inches, top, 0.50 inches, best guess, therefore, 0.33 inches (from averaging the two.)

Val at 11 PM, March 1st. Colored areas are those in which the model has calculated that precip has fallen during the prior 6 h.
Val at 11 PM, March 1st. Colored areas are those in which the model has calculated that precip has fallen during the prior 6 h.

There’s great uncertainly in whether this last storm will actually occur, so range of amounts are zero to 1 inch.  :}   See reasons for uncertainty below, besides being too far in advance or our models to be reliable anyway.

Ann 2015022300_CON_GFS_SFC_SLP_THK_PRECIP_WINDS_264
Valid Friday, March 5th, at 5 PM AST. Colored regions NOW denote areas of precipitation that have fallen during the prior TWELVE hours. (Mod resolution degrades after about 192 h, and so a coarser view of precip areas is used.)

While a significant storm on the 1st is virtually assured according to spaghetti, this last major event in the panel above is doubtful.  See below,  in another lesson on consuming weather spaghetti:

Ensemble spaghetti valid for the same time as the panel above, 5 PM AST Friday, March 5th.  Not much support for a storm, low confidence is indicated by the LACK of bunching red and blue lines, unlike those off the East Coast, and over there east of Asia.
Ensemble spaghetti valid for the same time as the panel above, 5 PM AST Friday, March 5th. Not much support for a storm, low confidence is indicated by the LACK of bunching red and blue lines, unlike those off the East Coast, and over there east of Asia.  So, while a great storm is predicted in last evening’s model run, prepare for sadness and disappointment as a hedge.

 Yesterday’s fine clouds

7:10 AM.  A couple of shafts of big virga.  Likely a drop or two reached the ground.
7:10 AM. A couple of shafts of big virga. Likely a drop or two reached the ground.  Could have been caused by aircraft penetrations, or, taller Altocumulus castellanus-like turrets that reached lower temperatures, produced more ice.  They look suspiciously like an aircraft artifact due to their very small size.
7:41 AM.  Nice stack of lenticular pancakes in the lee of the Catalinas.
7:41 AM. Nice stack of lenticular pancakes in the lee of the Catalinas.  You can see some great lenticular occurrences in the U of AZ Time Laps movie for yesterday.  There are also a lot other fascinating things that go on in yesterday’s clouds, too.
8:05 AM.  Natural virga approaches Catalina.  Looked for a drop as it went over, but saw none.
8:05 AM. Clearly natural virga approaches Catalina. Looked for a drop as it went over, but saw none.
DSC_3071
8:22 AM. Pancakes downstream from Ms. Mt. Lemmon.
DSC_3077
8:44 AM. Fairy dusters in bloom!
DSC_3097
9:07 AM. Doggies, Emma, and little Banjo, sample and inspect water STILL running in the Sutherland Wash!
DSC_0008
1:46 PM. After a brief sunny period, banks of Altocumulus invade the sky.
2:46 PM.  Altocumulus opacus clouds continue to fill in, darken.
2:46 PM. Altocumulus opacus clouds continue to fill in, darken.
5:40 PM.  Muliple layers of clouds stream ahead of sprinkle producing cloud blob just upwind at this time.
5:40 PM. Muliple layers of clouds stream ahead of sprinkle-producing cloud blob just upwind at this time. Note how the Altocumulus opacus clouds disappeared, leaving lenticular like formations, with a thin ice cloud (Cirrostratus) above.

The End, though I COULD go on and on and on, and then on some more.  Its who I am….

Catalina Beach State Park; Canadians come up with a winner!

Its been this way for quite a while, actually since the big rains of late January, but I only found out about it yesterday:  “Thousands Gather Under Cloudy Skies for Beach Fun at Catalina State River and Beach Park !” (if one were writing a newspaper headline).  See below.

2:40 PM.
2:40 PM.  Here, dozens of kiddies are seen frolicking in the water of the Sutherland River at Catalina State Park.
2:44 PM.
2:44 PM.  Soft Cumulonimbus capillatus  and calvus turrets line the distant SW horizon while hundreds frolic in sand and water at Cat State Park.
2:46 PM.  A man of Indian descent named, "Ricky" prepares his daughter for sand castle construction.
2:46 PM.  “Ricky” (real name, “Parikit”), who also happened to work in the SAME lab office as the writer for a few years,  prepares his daughter for the popular beach activity of sand castle construction.

Before reaching the beach at the State Park, saw some luxuriant spring undergrowth among the trees, and a nice Cumulus turret, one that went on to grow up and be a weak Cumulonimbus:

1:51 PM.  Typical of the lush grass growth along the Birding Trail at Cat State Park, also due to the generous January rains.
1:51 PM. Typical of the lush grasses along the Birding Trail at Cat State Park, also due to the generous January rains.
2:21 PM.  Nice.
2:21 PM. Nice.  Altocumulus clouds (upper left) lurk around a Cumulus congestus turret over the Catalinas.
3:36 PM.  A remarkably summer-like sky, Cumulus congestus in the foreground, Cumulonimbus capillatus cloud lining the SW horizon.  Temperature, 70 F.
3:36 PM. A remarkably summer-like sky, Cumulus congestus in the foreground, Cumulonimbus capillatus cloud lining the SW horizon. Temperature, 70 F.

 

The weather ahead, as you and I both hope it will be

Been a lot of phony storms in the 10-15 day range indicated by the WRF-GOOFUS model, ones presented here with regularity, then ended up jilting us.    So,  today when the Canadian model came up with an appreciable rain pattern for AZ in only SIX days, Feb. 21, it was time to exult, switch models,  and climb back up on the blog saddle:

Valid at 5 PM AST, Saturday, February 21st.  Based on the global observations taken at 5 PM last evening.  AZ covered in rain!
Valid at 5 PM AST, Saturday, February 21st. Based on the global observations taken at 5 PM last evening. AZ covered in rain!

What’s even better in this map is that the rain has only begun on the 21st.  As you can see, the bunching of the contours off the Cal and Oregon coasts and west of the center of the low, upper left panel, tells you immediately that more rain would be ahead for us if this configuration is correct.  That’s  because the low will propagate southward, and closer to us, not move off in some untoward direction with a stronger wind field on the back side than on the front (east) side.  Also, in a pattern resembling the Greek letter, “Omega1 as we have in the eastern Pacific and West, lows like to nest in the SE corner of the “Omega”, getting cutoff, stagnant, out of the main jet stream flow, all of which prolongs bad weather in that sector of an “Omega” (here in the SW US).  So, lots to be optimistic about today.  Strong support in spaghetti for this Omega pattern, too.

Now I haven’t looked at the US WRF-GFS model based on the same obs because it might have something different, a storm that’s not as good as the Canadian one,  and I don’t want to know about it.  Still feel pretty hurt by the big storm presentations for AZ that weren’t very sincere in that model.  And, as we know, sincerity is mandatory in a relationship, even one with weather maps.

The End

——————–

1Link added in case you don’t believe me again.

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

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

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

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

———-experimental module———————–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to yesterday……

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

DSC_2567 DSC_2563 DSC_2562

 

Yesterday’s cloud

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

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

 

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

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

The End

Correction to big rain; no wash water

While living the big western life yesterday by riding a horse, me and my ridin’ pal, Nora B., came across some water flowing in the Sutherland Wash by the rusty gate on the east side of the wash that leads to Coronado National Forest land.

So, with with a 3-5 inch rain on the Catalinas, there WAS some water in the Sutherland here in the Catalina area.  It was remarkable that there was no sign whatsoever of water having flowed at the Cottonwoods at the Baby Jesus Trail head on the north side of this flow (shown below), but water was flowing in it a few hundred yards farther downstream.

Nor was there any sign that water had flowed from our big rain in the Sutherland Wash at the back gate to Catalina State Park.  In fact, we saw where this Sutherland Wash water disappeared just down from the rusty gate.

So, a lesson has been learned here about wash water flows: it can be flowing modestly between two dry points.  Huh.   Might not see this again for some time, and it will all be going away soon.  Too bad so many of us have to pass hiking or horseback riding to these rare scenes today due to a necessary Pac 12 football TEEVEE vigil beginning just after 12 noon today and lasting through midnight I think.  Kind of sad when you have to make choices between two equally worthy activities like these.

Cloudwise, I hope you logged the occurrence of distant Cumulonimbus clouds in the high country on the NW-NE horizon late yesterday afternoon.

The End.

9:18 AM.  The Sutherland Wash near the rusty gate.
9:18 AM. The Sutherland Wash near the rusty gate.
9:54 AM.  The apparent source of the water, the tributary Big Rock creek a few hundred yards south of the Baby Jesus trail head at the Cottonwoods.
9:54 AM. The apparent source of the water, the tributary Big Rock creek a few hundred yards south of the Baby Jesus trail head at the Cottonwoods.

 

What "big rock"?  This one.
What “Big Rock”? This one.

The perfect rain

The “perfect storm”?  Well, maybe the perfect rain, and it kept giving fro several hours yesterday after our best model said it should end yesterday before 11 AM.  And what a nice rain!  1.18 inches total here in Sutherland Heights, as measured by a CoCoRahs plastic 4 inch gauge.  (You might consider getting one, btw, or one from the U of A’s rainlog.org)

Went down to the CDO and Sutherland Washes to see what was up after seeing the gargantuan 4.96 inch total on Ms. Lemmon, and the 3.62 inches at the Samaniego Peak gauge.  Below is the resul for the Sutherland, both were the same, nary a drop in them:

8:15 AM.  Looking upstream in the Sutherland Wash at the back gate of Catalina State Park.  Stratocumulus clouds provide a dank cloudscape.
8:15 AM. Looking upstream in the Sutherland Wash at the back gate of Catalina State Park.  I could hardly believe that there was no flow with so much rain having fallen in Catalinas!  But it was good in a sense; all that rain mostly soaked in.

 

6:37 AM.  A photo of drizzle falling from Stratus/Stratocumulus clouds.  Hope you got out and jumped around in our rare drizzle occurrence.   Big hat, no bicycle works in drizzle, too,  keeping it off your glasses.
6:37 AM. A photo of drizzle falling from Stratocumulus clouds. Hope you got out and jumped around in our rare drizzle occurrence. Big hat, no bicycle,  works in drizzle, too, the tiny drops won’t get on your glasses. Note how uniform the fuzziness is toward Catalina/Oro Valley, only gradually thickens to the left.  Took about 2 h to get a hundredth when this was going on.

 

7:23 AM.  Drizzle drops as seen by your car's windshield after about 1 sec at 1 mph.  Note how close together they are.  The tiny drops and how close together they are is what differentiates true drizzle from the phony labeling we sometimes get from our TEEVEEs by semi-pro meteorologists.  Sorry to bang on them again, but REALLY, folks, they should know better.
7:23 AM. Drizzle drops as seen by your car’s windshield after about 1 sec at 1 mph. Note how close together they are. The tiny drops and how close together they are is what differentiates true drizzle from the phony labeling of spares large drops as “drizzle” we sometimes get from our TEEVEEs by semi-pro meteorologists. Sorry to bang on them again, but REALLY, folks, they should know better.  Sure, I’m a drizzle-head, but it really does matter since its a whole different process that produces drizzle compared to sparse large drops.  Sorry, too, for another mini-harangue on this, but REALLY folks, we should know the difference!  Feeling better now, got that out.

 

8:02 AM.  Heading down to the Sutherland Wash with temperatures and dewpoints in the mid-60s, there really was a feel for being on the wet side of the Hawaiian Islands, maybe above Hilo, HI, at 3,000 feet elevation.
8:02 AM. Heading down to the Sutherland Wash on Golder Ranch Drive with temperatures and dewpoints in the mid-60s, there really was a feel for being on the wet side of the Hawaiian Islands, maybe above Hilo, HI, at 3,000 feet elevation, except for the dead grasses.
10:20 AM.  One of the many dramatic scenes yestserday, this one looking toward the Charouleau Gap NE of Catalina.
10:20 AM. One of the many dramatic scenes yestserday, this one looking toward the Charouleau Gap NE of Catalina.
10:19 AM.  While it was nice to see all the water glinting off the rocks on the side of Samaniego Ridge, a deeply troubling aspect was the amount of aerosol that had moved in suddenly it seemed, evident in the crespuscular rays.  How could it be this dirty so soon?  Seems like a weather oxymoron after such a long period of rain.  Also, one wondered if this aerosol loading would stop the warm rain process by providing too many, and smaller droplets in our clouds.
10:19 AM. While it was nice to see all the water glinting off the rocks on the side of Samaniego Ridge, a deeply troubling aspect was the amount of aerosol that had moved in suddenly it seemed, evident in the crespuscular rays. How could it be this dirty so soon? Seems like a weather oxymoron after such a long period of rain. Also, one wondered if this aerosol loading would stop the warm rain process by providing too many, and smaller droplets in our clouds.  Fortunately, that did not happen, and what appeared to be warm rain events, or ice formation at relatively high temperatures in our clouds, also requiring extra large cloud droplets,  for the most part, continued intermittently into mid-afternoon.

 

10:32 AM.  Close up of aerosols and sun glints on wet rocks.
10:32 AM. Close up of aerosols and sun glints on wet rocks.

 

12:23 PM.  Glimpse of ice-forming top.  Types of crystals visible here? Needles and hollow sheaths because the top temperature was likely equal to or warmer than -10 C (14 F) and cooler than -4 C, and that is the temperature range that those crystals form under when there is water saturation, as there is in the Cumulus turret before it glaciates.
12:23 PM. Glimpse of ice-forming top (smooth region above crinkly top). Types of crystals visible here?
Needles and hollow sheaths because the top temperature was likely equal to or warmer than -10 C (14 F) and cooler than -4 C, and that is the temperature range that those crystals form under when there is water saturation, as there is in a Cumulus turret before it glaciates.  OK, a lot of hand waving, but that’s what I think and I am here mainly to tell you what to think, too.

 

5:36 PM. Day ended quietly with a little, but pretty scruff of orographic Stratocumulus, maybe castellanus, on Sam Ridge.
5:36 PM. The day ended quietly with a little, but pretty scruff of orographic Stratocumulus castellanus on Sam Ridge, the clouds mashed down by the subsiding air at the rear of our little trough that went by yesterday afternoon.

 

The weather WAY ahead, too far ahead to even speculate about:

NOAA spaghetti plots still suggesting a pretty good chance of rain here around the 23-25th of this month.  Nothing before then.

 

The End, after some improper speculation.

Surveying the Sutherland Wash in the aftermath

Went on an hike yesterday to see what the water levels had gotten to in the Sutherland Wash, located at the base of Samaniego Ridge, during our historic downpour.  I began at the Cottonwoods at the Baby Jesus Trail head and worked my way down the wash about a mile, to where the fence is that demarcates the Coronado National Forest boundary and the State Trust Lands.  It appeared that the flow in the Sutherland Wash had reached depths of 4-6 feet in the narrower parts, and about 3 feet deep, and 80 feet wide (!) near the south fence.  Had crossed that part of the wash by that fence many times on horseback. I had seen little streams of water in it a number of times, but nothing close to what apparently had happened on Monday morning; it must have been a stunning sight.  The peak of our storm appeared to fall on the Sutherland Wash watershed.

First, nice sunrise yesterday.  Hope you caught this.

6:01 AM.
6:01 AM.
9:10 AM.  Rocky surfaces on the Catalinas glistening from water.  I thought maybe that water might be still in the Sutherland Wash, up against the foothills, but only in one little spot was it running.
9:10 AM. Rocky surfaces on the Catalinas glistening from water. I thought maybe that water might be still be flowing in the Sutherland Wash, up against the foothills, but only in one little spot was it running.
10:41 AM.  Investigative work begins in the Sutherland Wash at the Cottonwoods near the Baby Jesus Trail head.
10:41 AM. Investigative work begins in the Sutherland Wash at the Cottonwoods near the Baby Jesus Trail head.
10:41 AM.  Using the investagive technique of looking for scour marks, debris piles, and mashed plants, the investigation began.  In summary, I could find no evidence that the Sutherland Wash had ever had a higher flow in it than Monday.
10:41 AM. Using the investigative technique of looking for scour marks, debris piles, and mashed plants, the investigation began. In summary, I could find no evidence that the Sutherland Wash had ever had a higher flow in it than what occurred on Monday.
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Imagine the flow here, enough to push over that young tree!
Imagine the volume of water going over this old cement wall, just south of the Cottonwods!
Imagine the volume of water going over this old cement wall, just south of the Cottonwods!

 

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I suddenly realized, when viewing the mashed plants, pig weed and such, along side the untouched ones, that the concept of mowed lawns was likely introduced to early man sine he would have seen how nice the mashed area looked compared to the wild, stalky look of the untamed vegetation.
I suddenly realized, when viewing the mashed plants, pig weed and such, along side the untouched ones, that the concept of mowed lawns was likely introduced to early man since he would have seen how nice and orderly the flattened areas looked after floods compared to the wild, stalky, unkempt look of the untamed natural vegetation. Thinking about writing this hypothesis up, submitting to the J. of Amer. Cultural Anthropology…. Man always wants to tame things.
10:50 AM  Debris pile.
10:50 AM Debris pile.
Somehow these morning glories made it through the mayhem.
Somehow these morning glories made it through the mayhem.
More debris.  It got to be kind of fascinating, started looking for the biggest ones, really getting into it.
More debris. It got to be kind of fascinating, started looking for the biggest ones, really getting into it.
10:56 AM.  Wash must have been about 4-5 feet deep here, judging by that neat, and nice looking mashed down area on the bank.
10:56 AM. Wash must have been about 4-5 feet deep here, judging by that neat, nice looking mashed down area on the bank.
Certainly an implication of water violence here!
Certainly an implication of water violence here!
Pretty marbled swirls due to multicolored sands.  Almost hated to walk on it.
Pretty marbled swirls due to multicolored sands. Almost hated to walk on it.
More interesting swirls.
More interesting swirls.
Really getting fascinated by the drama presented by a debris pile.  Hope you are, too.
Really getting fascinated by the drama presented by a debris pile. Hope you are, too.
The wash has widened considerably here, but the violence is still evident.  I thought this was a pretty dramatic viewpoint.
The wash has widened considerably here, but the violence is still evident. I thought this was a pretty dramatic viewpoint.
The debris in this young tree suggests the wash was five or so feet deep here, pretty amazing when you add the velocity to that.
The debris in this young tree suggests the wash was five or so feet deep here, pretty amazing when you add the velocity to that.
At the end of the hike, here past the fence and where the equestrian trail enters the wash, measuring from bank to bank showed that it was 80 feet wide, and about 3 feet deep!
At the end of the hike, here past the fence and where the equestrian trail enters the wash, measuring from bank to bank showed that it was 80 feet wide, and about 3 feet deep!
But somehow, this little guy survived the scouring rampage.
But somehow, this little guy survived the scouring rampage.

The weather ahead….

Still looking like an upper trough along California will scoop up soon-to-be Hurricane “Odile” (not “Opal”, as suggested here yesterday) and send its remains into Arizona and with that, another blast of tropical rains. Another four or five inches added to our current water year total would make it look pretty good (hahah). Right now, Catalinans are looking at 14.56 inches for this WY (Oct to Sept). Average is 16.82 inches over the past 37 years.

The End.

PS: There was some ice in heavy Cumulus clouds off to the north toward Oracle Junction yesterday, BTW. Hope you noted it.

A little water running in the Sutherland Wash; remembering the CDO in 2010

With no rain in sight now, and its looking more and more like a third late winter and spring in a row with precip below normal (there’s only been one other “three in a row” in our 36 years of Catalina records), I thought would pay homage to the Great 2010 13 Day Run of the CDO at East Wilds Road (farther below).

In the meantime, yesterday I came across a nice gurgling creek, making the kind of gurgle that characterizes New Age relaxation CDs.  It was coming down the Big Rock Creek wash-tributary that empties into  the Sutherland Wash at the Cottonwoods, a local name given to an area of the Sutherland Wash were illicit beer parties often take place.  There was no water in the Sutherland above this point.

3:55 PM yesterday.
3:55 PM yesterday at Big Rock Creek by the Sutherland Wash cottonwoods.  Horse Jake forages.
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2:54 PM. The Sutherland Wash downstream of the Big Rock Creek tributary.  Horse Jake;  his little mind wonders why I am taking another photo of not that much.

 

The Great CDO Run of 2010

I had forgotten that the Canada del Oro wash (river?) at East Wilds Road had run for as many as 13 consecutive days beginning on February 28th and likely ending three years ago today1.  Here are a few of those shots with the date.  That run, and the “Road Closed” sign on E. Wilds at the CDO began to feel like a permanent feature of life here in Catalina. You wondered if catfish were in there.    It was such a special time then.  And it had already run several times beginning after January 20th.

February 28, 2010.
February 28, 2010.
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March 1, 2010.
March 3, 2010.
March 3, 2010.
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March 4, 2010
March 8, 2010.
March 8, 2010.
March 9, 2010.
March 9, 2010.
March 10, 2010.
March 10, 2010.
March 11, 2010.
March 11, 2010.
March 12, 2010.
March 12, 2010.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What was surprising to Mr. Cloud Maven person, a cloud maven not a drought maven, was that after two consecutive bountiful months of rain and snow, the State of Arizona, and our local region of Arizona were still considered to be in drought, “abnormally dry”,  according to the Drought Monitor folks.   Here is there map for March 16, 2010.

The US Drought Monitor map for March 16, 2010.
The US Drought Monitor map for March 16, 2010.

At the end of March, and after three consecutive months of above normal rain and snow in our area (8.02 inches in Catalina, or nearly twice the normal amount), with one of the best wildflower displays in many, many years in progress, 200 inches of snow and one the best all time ski winters at Mount Lemmon, articles in the AZ Star about all the water that was flowing in the washes, we were STILL classified by the Drought Monitor folks as “abnormally dry” (see below).

I began to have the depressing thought that it was impossible to exit a drought classification after those three fabulous months.

The western US Drought Monitor map for April 6, 2010.  Go figure.
The western US Drought Monitor map for April 6, 2010. Go figure.

The End

————————-

1The Pima County stream gage at the bridge over the CDO wash at Golder Ranch Drive wasn’t working during that time (flow data here), and I don’t have photo evidence for two days, the 5th and 6th.  Dang.  Also, the run likely continued a little beyond the 12th, but don’t have photo evidence for the 13th, either.   Dang#2.