Former Hurricane ‘Newt’ brought some real humidity, low clouds with unusually warm bases (around 15-20 ° C) to Tucson and Catalina yesterday as its remnant center passed just about over us.
Old Newt was “dragging” here as a tropical storm, aloft it was pretty strong still, brought near hurricane force winds on isolated, high, mountain tops. Mt. Hopkins reached 59 kts from the ESE before the “eye” passed nearby and the winds turned to the west. And in the Rincon Mountains a gigantic 6.39 inches was logged, and a site on Mt. Graham reported 6.43 inches. (Thanks to Mark Albright for these reports.)
While Sutherland Heights received only 0.29 inches in that all day rain, there were eye-popping totals in the Catalinas. Take a look at some of these, Dan Saddle near Oracle Ridge, nearing 6 inches in 24 h! Below, 24 h totals ending at 2 AM this morning, which pretty much covers Newt:
|0.28||Golder Ranch||Horseshoe Bend Rd in Saddlebrooke|
|0.59||Oracle Ranger Stati||approximately 0.5 mi SW of Oracle|
|0.24||Dodge Tank||Edwin Rd 1.3 mi E of Lago Del Oro Parkway|
|0.35||Cherry Spring||approximately 1.5 mi W of Charouleau Gap|
|0.79||Pig Spring||approximately 1.1 mi NE of Charouleau Gap|
|0.47||Cargodera Canyon||NE corner of Catalina State Park|
|0.31||CDO @ Rancho Solano||Cañada Del Oro Wash NE of Saddlebrooke|
|0.39||CDO @ Golder Rd||Cañada Del Oro Wash at Golder Ranch Rd|
|4.13||Oracle Ridge||Oracle Ridge, approximately 1.5 mi N of Rice Peak|
|4.25||Mt. Lemmon||Mount Lemmon|
|1.61||CDO @ Coronado Camp||Cañada Del Oro Wash 0.3 mi S of Coronado Camp|
|2.17||Samaniego Peak||Samaniego Peak on Samaniego Ridge|
|5.91||Dan Saddle||Dan Saddle on Oracle Ridge|
|3.54||White Tail||Catalina Hwy 0.8 mi W of Palisade Ranger Station|
|3.66||Green Mountain||Green Mountain|
|1.77||Marshall Gulch||Sabino Creek 0.6 mi SSE of Marshall Gulch|
Your cloud day yesterday; we don’t talk about today. That’s for tomorrow.
The day began with one of the great examples of Nimbostratus, that technically a middle -level cloud greeted us at daybreak in what was one of the great examples of the phantom cloud, the true precipitator, usually hidden from view by lower clouds such as Stratocumulus. But, yesterday morning, there it was, “Ns” naked as could be. I know many of you have been looking for a good shot of Nimbostratus to add to your cloud collection for a long time and I could feel the joy out there when I saw it myself. I only took a couple of shots myself, wish now I had taken more of an extraordinary scene.
Then, as the light rain here moistened the air hour after hour, low clouds, such as Stratocumulus and Stratus fractus began to form along the mountains, producing some interesting “tracers” of the chaotic air movement over there by the Catalinas under nearly calm conditions. Newt disappointed in his wind accompaniment.
Later in the day, as the highest, coldest cloud tops associated with those beautiful Nimbostatus clouds moved off to the NE, and our cloudscape became a mix of deeper Stratocumulus with Cumulus and isolated Cumulonimbus cells, they produced true drizzle and misty, visibility-reducing “warm rain”, that rare type of rain that falls here from clouds lacking in ice, began to be observed producing Hawaiian looking rain on our mountains, delicate shafts of rain whose small drops slanted away from the base.
Here, you might well erupt with, “This doesn’t look like Hawaii, but Ocean Shores, Washington, or some other coastal location along the West Coast on a spring day having Stratocumulus with drizzle!”
You would be correct in that eruption.
Below, an example of drizzle drops on your car’s windshield:
Later, it was to look little more “Hawaiian”, but if you’ve been to Hilo, you know its mostly cloudy all day.
“Warm rain” or rain due to the colllision-coalescence process, is also mainly associated with “clean” conditions, ones low in aerosol particles that can act as cloud condensation nuclei. The fewer the “CCN” the fewer are the droplets in clouds, and the larger the individual cloud droplets are when saturation and cloud formation occur. So, by yesterday afternoon, certainly, it was doggone clean here, no doubt aided by washout in that light rain we had.
Particularly heavy rain with low visibility fell just south of Catalina yesterday afternoon around Ina and Oracle just after 4 pm. However, that rain did not have those HUGE drops that we see from unloading, deep, Cumulonimbus clouds making this observer think as heavy as it was, it may have been due to a Cumulonimbus topping out at less than 20,000 feet, where the temperature would have been too warm for ice. The 500 mb temperature yesterday was a tropical-like -3.7° C on the TUS sounding, almost unheard of with a rain situation here. This, another sign of tropical Newt, since tropical storms/hurricanes have warm cores.
lacking in those huge drops we see in our thunderstorms, this rain likely formed from the “warm rain” process except maybe in the very heaviest rain areas. It was a special day.
You probably noticed how quiet it was; no thunder around, for one thing, indicating the updrafts in the clouds were not very strong, and that was another indicator that the clouds may not have contained ice. Without ice, hail and graupel, soft hail, you don’t have lightning.
The lack of lighting, the all day off and on rain, such as you might experience at Hilo, Hawaii, on the windward side, made it seem like you were in Hilo, Hawaii, or one of the other wet spots on the windward side of the Island.