First, I will shamelessly plug a book on clouds, “A Sideways Look at Clouds”, by a well-published and acclaimed author friend, Maria Mudd Ruth. Its about her odyssey into them, mentally and physically, after she realized they were something she really had not paid much attention to before mid-life, then she had to know EVERYTHING about them! Its a great read, infused here and there with humorous anecdotes.
Not that there have been that many rainstorms since the end of July.
But it would seem that today marks the meteorological end of the summer rain season as dry westerly winds sweep our remaining tropical air to the east today. The mods think there is a chance for a couple of high-based thunderstorms in the area around Catalina late in the day. But bases will be so high that not a lot of rain will reach the ground even if one passes right over us. And, they’ll be moving in from the SW or W today due to encroaching westerlies.
In a little over a week, too, you’ll be hearing about early snow in the Rockies and West! We’ll have a day or two of those gusty, dry southwest winds that accompany our winter storms as well. You’ll get a real feel for the season change then.
Check out this plot from the NOAA spaghetti factory showing (blue lines) that an unusually strong upper trough will absolutely dominate the West in just over a week
This is great news, heard here first of course (haha), after a pitiful April with no measurable rain. Poor desert.
Its been suggested by the NOAA spaghetti factory for some time, but now actual precipitation is showing up in the models pretty regularly for around May 8th and thereafter, and so we can gleefully start dusting off our umbrellas, seeing if we have enough change for the car wash afterwards, etc.
Even WU (Weather Underground) is starting to catch up, showing about a 3% (THREE percent!) chance of rain at that time from last night’s model output. Its “waymore better” (a nice name for someone) than that, I think, though its not 100% yet. That percentage should be climbing as the days get closer.
BTW, Have never seen such a pronounced “retrogression” as that shown today over such a vast region of the globe in those spaghetti plots, and that’s why I’ve taken to the air today.
The good news for AZ-ians is that we get placed in a trough in the lower latitudes, albeit a weak one; a dip in “jetty jet stream” to the south over us (meaning cooler temperatures than average aloft should prevail) with some enhanced chances for rain after our main chances coming right up on the 8th and beyond for a couple of days.
As you know already, ovenly weather for this time of year, with temperatures far above average, is just ahead, which takes a big, fat high pressure dome aloft over us. That high will dissipate as “troughy” conditions begin to shape up toward the weekend.
So, venturing farther, it would seem a reasonable temperature first half of May is ahead, with RAIN, after the “meltdown” later this week.
Time for a random thought before closing:
A cactus can be a beautiful thing, can’t it?The End
Cooling off now after the Big Review of NAS 2003…and finally getting back to the lighthearted, carefree, playful, well, silly, mode normally found here (he sez).
As a brief follow up, I have yet to receive a “thank you very much for your absurdly late review of our tome on cloud seeding; had you submitted it in a timely manner, perhaps one thing you wrote MIGHT have been considered” note from the National Academy of Sciences for all the work I put in on it. Must be pretty busy back there.
Also, if it didn’t go out “like a lion”, as foretold here weeks ago utilizing weather lore, March at least went out as something of a “bobcat” with the severe winds, series of cold fronts, we Catalinans experienced, along with several traces of rain. “In like a lamb, out like a bobcat.”
The weather way ahead
Spaghetti lovers will INSTANTLY recognize from those maps, of which ONE is shown for April 20th, that other than wind and “fluctuating temperatures” as dry cold fronts pass by, that there’s no chance of rain until the 20th. Check it out if you don’t believe me again:
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.)
The title represents one of the great forecasting lores of our time, developed over centuries, really, that will once again verify. BTW, this particular lore has a “skill score” up around 0.9011. Its unbelievable, really. If March “roars in like a lion” count on the opposite at the end of the month. Many of you will harken back to March ’83….as an opposite example if what’s a ahead for us this time around.
So, since March 2017 started out tranquil (docile, like a lamb) and a little too warm, “out like a lion” means not just cooler, but even cold, windy, turbulent, unsettled days, rain here and there in Catalina, snow in Catalina Mountains; in other words, a lot of weather fun! And, all this happening a time or three during the last ten days of the March as the month rolls to an end.
Count on it2.
Next report: when rain threatens here in March. Well, maybe sooner.
1Perfect predictability would be 1.00
2The exact days of rain, wind and cold are still pretty uncertain, but they will roar in. You can’t expect “lore” to nail down the days!
That’s why you come here, to answer important questions like that. After all, those precipitating clouds could have been Nimbostratus, Stratocumulus opacus praecipitatio, Cumulonimbus capillatus incus flammagenitus, or even just “plain” Cumulonimbus capillatus (no anvil), and possibly, Stratus opacus nebulosos praecipitatio.
Of course, with no large fires around, we can at once rule out Cumulonimbus capillatus incus flammagenitus….(the new name for clouds on top of fires, formerly referred to by the more accessible terms, “pyrocumulus” or “pyrocumulonimbus.”
For the curious, and since I broke my camera and don’t have the dozens upon dozens of photos to regale or bore you with, I will reach into the archives for a shot of “flammagenitus” and show you one from the pyromaniacs’ paradise, Brazil!:
Now, on to more recently viewed clouds, like yesterday’s:
Later these scenes were overtaken by a slab of Nimbostratus and steady light rain for a few hours.
A note on the recent southern Cal rain blast
As you know, up ten inches fell in some mountain locations in southern California as a monster low pressure system smashed into the coast near San Francisco1. You might recall, too, that the shift of the jet stream (and thus storm track) into the southern portions of California was well predicted two weeks in advance in those crazy spaghetti plots. You can’t always get much out of those plots except maybe the degree of uncertainty in weather patterns a couple of weeks out, but that was a rare case in which the signal far upstream for something strong barging into southern Cal also strong. And, of course, we are experiencing the residual of that storm, also as was indicated in those plots (“…the weather change around the 18th.”
Presently, a another sequence of extremely heavy rain is in the pipeline for central and northern California starting today, which will take a few days for it to come to an end.
Following a break, what was intriguing in the model outputs, and a little scary was that it appeared that yet another scoop of tropical air was going to jet across the Pacific under another blocking high in the Arctic and Gulf of Alaska into California. Take a look at this prog:
Here’s where spaghetti can shed some real light:
So while it is still possible that some model runs will indicate a blast from the sub-tropics affecting Cal, they can be pretty much waived off as outliers (not impossible “solutions” but rather unlikely ones. Breath easier Califs! At least after the current onslaught ends.
BTW, can you see what kind of weather is indicated in this plot for the SW and old Arizony?
Cold; temperatures below normal, precip likely at times.
——————————– 1The low pressure center that passed over San Francisco yesterday was not as deep (988 millibars) as the notorious “Frankenstormmaggedon” of 2010 which barged into Frisco with a 979 millibar center. You may recall, too, that spaghetti had strongly suggested a “Frankenstormaggedon”, as it was later called, also more than ten days in advance. Recall, too, if you can recall, that 2009-10 was an El Niño winter with this kind of thing pretty much anticipated.
For history buffs, I reprise that January 2010 storm as seen on our national weather map. You may recall that, if there’s anything left in that noggin up there, that Catalina experience no less than THREE inches of rain as this system went by, taking a couple of days:
Well, it will be pretty obvious, ludicrously so to spaghetti lovers, the sequence shown below. It goes from “warm in the West (again); cold in the East pattern to another undercutting flow from the Pacific, the kind we’re having right now under the “soft underbelly” of a big blocking high, except that the tropical flow from the Pac this time is a little too far to the north to give us anything.
But, it will be another floody situation for northern Cal in the coming days. Some places, mainly north of “Frisco”, have already picked up 4-6 inches in the first blast which hit yesterday. Ten to 20 inches more is likely over the next week at favored locations. Having quite the water year there, really a lot of water year.
You may recall that the current situation, alluded to in the “break on through to the other side” refrain used here about ten times, was well predicted about two weeks in advance! That’s what spaghetti can do for you!
OK, enough jabbering, let us move on to the current exciting examples that popped out from last night’s global data ( there are outputs after adding little errors at the start of the model run, to see how the flow is changed with them in it. Sounds crazy, I suppose, but is considered a huge advance in forecasting, a stupendous tool, that is, to make errors in models at the beginning of the run). Heck, they even do that in climate models that simulate 30-50 years from now, and you’d be amazed at how the tiniest fraction of a degree change the beginning makes (see Deser et al 2012).
Well, the first one’s not so exciting since we’re dry and hot for this time of the year, and its a common one that can get stuck for weeks at a time, so you REALLY hate to see models project a bulging ridge poking north along the West Coast. It could mean a rainless February here, if it persisted.
Here’s the exciting follow up, though, pretty unexpected given the above, showing a sudden collapse of the West Coast ridge regime, and strongly suggesting that wet spell has begun in Arizona, including regions of Catalina and Saddlebrooke:
So, you’ll want to get outdoor work done before this.
Historical note of interest, added value content, etc.
Some of you may remember that the 564 decameter contour (those red lines) at this level (500 millibars or around 18,000 feet above sea level on average) was used in the early years of forecasting before computer models (50s and early 60s) by southern California forecasters to demarcate where rain would fall in California–at and north of where that 564 decameter contour intersected the coast when upper troughs came in. The Old Forecaster remembers, though not much else…
So those red lines barging into southern Cal after a LONG fetch from the subtropical Pacific in the plot above mean central and southern Califs better watch out for some major rains a little before we ourselves get a dousing around the 18th of Feb.
Isn’t it great what spaghetti can do, that is, constrain our future weather to fairly certain outcomes two weeks in advance!
There was a sunset yesterday, btw:
Upper level snow flurry passes south of Tucson! Trying to generate some excitement here….
Is this the Big Niño pattern we’ve been waiting for all these years (well, one, anyway)? Its the kind of thing we looked for last winter during the giant El Niño and there was all that publicity about how much precip the Great Southwest would likley get. Then it was pretty much a “no show.”
Could this really be a lagged Big Niño pattern caused by a stratospheric phenomenon known as the Quasi-biennal Oscillation or “QBO”?
It was posited years ago by a researcher in a peer-reviewed journal article (not The Atlantic or Reader’s Digest) that I have been too lazy to look up, that the QBO can induce a lag in El Niño effects.
Personally, I blew it off when I read it, but now have hope that person was onto something.
Also, in Science mag recently, it said that the “QBO was positioned to produce heavy rains in Europe”, the first time I have heard that the QBO was associated with weather in the Weathersphere where all weather occurs, clouds and storms and sh… like that. Hahaha, it is so funny to cuss right there, out of science context!
(Its not really called the “Weathersphere” but rather, the “Troposphere1“, but thanks for reading that anyway. ) ((Too much laughter-inducing caffeine imbibed this AM…))
The Troposphere is BELOW the stratosphere as my one blog reader might already know, but its generally thought that doings in the stratosphere don’t have much effect on the Troposphere. Well, unless there’s a lot of smog up there produced by a volcanic belch (like Pinatubo, which cooled the earth for a coupla years back in ’92-’93). That’s 1992 and 1993.
Will be fun to see what REALLY happens. And, oh, I guess things are collapsing sooner than around the 20th, too. But will defer to Bob and the other fine professional meteorologists to let you know about that happenstance. (There are some great photos from Yellowstone by Mike L in Bob’s last post!)
—————————— 1It was suggested by this keyboard pounder in a scintillating article, oh, 50 years ago or so, in the Spartan Daily student newspaper, San Jose State, not Michigan State, that the “Troposphere” be renamed, “The Pollutosphere” due to all the crap we put in it and that we rename Earth, “Polluto”). Think of what the other civilizations out there think of us as they see things flying off the planet into outer space; “There they go, littering again….”, besides their evaluations of the increasing aerosol depth of the atmosphere.
Polluto? Fits doesn’t it , with all we’ve messed up; microplastics throughout the oceans, smog most everywhere, invasive plants and species wiping stuff out, burning up forests, etc. Perhaps renaming Earth could be seen as an honorarium of sorts for the late planet, “Pluto.” Well, that was a depressing summary. Need more coffee…and more thinking about storms!
Wasn’t going to blather about clouds and weather for a few days since there wasn’t any, just sit around and wait for those end of November storms to get here, then regale you with cloudy pictures.
But when I went to the NOAA spaghetti factory just now, I was blown away, beside myself, when I saw those outputs. Being one of the meteorological sophisticates, I suspect you’ve already trampled these maps. But, at the risk of being redundant again and again, here are a couple of jaw droppers from last night’s global data with errors input into the computer model at the beginning of the run to see how much the upper level forecasts change. There are always errors in measurements, they’re not perfect, and so by deliberately putting errors in models, we can see that range of differences in the outcomes. At first, there are virtually no differences because the errors are tiny. But over time their effect grows.
In these plots below, when the two colors of crazy lines cluster (red, representing the warmer side of the jet stream, and blue, the colder side) , it means the errors had little effect, and the forecast of a general pattern on the jet stream is one you can have great confidence in.
Below, a forecast via the “errorful ensembles” to be alliterative there for a second, in which the confidence can be quite high showing that a gigantic cold trough will sit atop most of the western US in the coming 9-12 days. Really, these are incredible:
So, how will it play out?
Well, we already have rather quickly passing cold troughs with their cold fronts ahead in late November, one that passes late on the 27th likely to boost our Sutherland Heights precip totals to our average value or above.
Then, the cold pattern gets amplified by this gargantuan trough that sets up a few days after those first couple of cold shots, setting the stage for cold and colder blasts. So the beginning of our cold weather and snowbirds muttering that they came to Arizona too soon, is just a few days ahead (followed by a “sucker hole” of brief temperature recovery and a few sunny days. (Well, I might be complaining, too, since cloud maven person, the writer, moved to Arizona from Seattle to be warm all day, every day. haha, sort of.)
On the other hand, there’ll be some great cloud shots in spite of the cold, and you and I, the rest of the cloud people, will both manage, warmed by the euphoria of being alive with such gorgeous scenes and exciting, changeable weather.
BTW, will close this shot-from-the-hip blog with a forecast of snow in Catalinaland in early December. That’s right, CMP is expecting measurable snow right here in Catalina.
Remember our slogan, “Right or wrong, you heard it here first!”
Sure, there’s a bit cooler weather heading our way in the next few days, but “May” will reappear after that, and people will be complaining again that they evacuated their domiciles in northern climes or high altitude sites too early when they returned to their winter homes in Arizona. I am hearing a lot of that kind of complaint.
Heat, devoid of thunderstorms, is truly tough to take here in AZ.
Unfortunately the little troughs so well predicted to occur in NOAA spaghetti plots at the end of October did not bring any rain, and this next one, which slipped from late October into the first of November, looks like its going to be dry, too.
October will end with but 0.01 inches of rain here in The Heights. Our average is 1.13 inches (1977-2015). Last year we had over two inches in October AND November, setting the stage for a good spring wildflower display! Below, a reminder:
But, “hey”, looks like southern New Mexicans will get a lot of rain, so let us be happy for them this coming week, and not sad for ourselves when we read about all the rain THEY are getting so close to us. Its only right.
But here’s the killer plot, just out from the NOAA spaghetti factory. I couldn’t believe how bad it was for us. You, too, I am sure will be frustrated and mad when you see it:
In the meantime , we can rejoice at the bountiful October rains they are having in California. Some records will fall. Some stations in the extreme north will approach 30 inches for the month of October by the time the month ends, and many stations south of those, including ones in the Sierra Nevadas will log 10-20 inches for the month.
Outstanding. But, it needs to continue, not dry up….to take a real bite out of drought.