Yep, unless you were outside yesterday morning, you probably missed the few drops that fell. But fall they did, giving us officially a trace of rain for January! In case you don’t believe me, here is a shot of the incoming shafts of rain. OK, “veils” of rain.
A “storm”, one with “rain,” has at last shown up in the numerical prognostics for late on Thanksgiving Weekend. It appears for the first time on last night’s 11 PM AST model run. At that time (11 PM AST) we have less global data to work with when the model crunches out its forecast, and so it is generally thought to be less reliable. But, it has a storm for us….
But, a storm here helps fill dreams of a green desert washed of dust, and stimulates the thought of wildflower seeds springing to life for the spring to come. So, to HECK with opinions on a 11 PM run having less skill! Let us dream of rain and poppies! Here it is below, from IPS Meteostar:
Pretty Cirrus lately, often at multiple levels, as here:
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.
You can sample the contents here.
Now, on to Catalina’s clouds and weather…
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:
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:
The End (at least for now)
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!
But what kind of rain clouds?
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….
From IPS MeteoStar, this “YIKES!”
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!