Clouds continue to beguile, even when they’re tiny

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the best weather discussion, see Bob M.

The End.

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

One thought on “Clouds continue to beguile, even when they’re tiny”

  1. We’re likely to see plenty of clouds here tomorrow, Art, but not of the fluffy cumulus variety. This “water year” for me (from October 2016 to Sept.2017) will end up my 9th wettest in the past 43 years despite the dry summer months. It will be intresting to see what this coming autumn will bring in comparison.

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