A day with an astounding sunrise and a mysterious linear feature

In case you missed it:

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6:52 AM. Altocumulus cloudlets over and east of the Catalinas.
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6:52 AM. Sprinting to the other side of the house, this spectacular scene of virga falling from Altostratus. Breathtaking!
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6:53 AM. To the NW, the virga roiled downward into mammatus bulges under lit by the sun.
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6:54 AM. The color was fading just in a minute or two, but it was still a breathtaking panorama I thought you should see.

Some additional commentary about these scenes. One of the remarkable things about clouds, a real unknown, is how clouds such as Altocumulus (1st photo) can get so cold, colder than it was this mid-November in Wyoming, and can remain all or mostly water drops, which is what you are looking at in those cloudlets over and beyond the Catalinas. Pretty amazing. This phenomenon has been known about for decades, but not fully explained. We expect to see a lot of ice in clouds with tops colder than -30 C (-22 F) as you might imagine.

Here’s the sounding near the time of these photos, with writing on it:

———-Begin learning module———————————-

The Tucson balloon sounding, launched around 3:30 AM AST yesterday morning.
The Tucson balloon sounding, launched around 3:30 AM AST yesterday morning.

As a CMJ, you need to be armed with explanations if, on a morning walk, your neighbor, at first overwhelmed by the morning beauty,  but then instead of being quiet, goes on to ask, “Hey, aren’t those clouds composed of droplets; they must be pretty low and warm?”

Since you’ve already seen the TUS sounding for the hours just before this, you know those cloud bottoms are real cold and high, -26 C, and 19,000 feet above you here in Catalina, and tops are really cold, about -32 C (-26 F), you cringe.   What to say?   How do you explain clouds that can sit there at -32 C and develop little or no ice, while knowing that Cumulus clouds, ones whose tops have never been colder than -7 C,  can be completely composed of ice just after reaching up to that temperature?

—————-End of learning module, such as it was———————

Here’s another example from yesterday of extremely cold clouds with few ice crystals:

9:36 AM.  Altocumulus perlucidus opacus (sun's position is not detectable).
9:36 AM. Altocumulus perlucidus opacus (sun’s position is not detectable).  The TUS sounding for the morning would not be valid at this time since the cloud bases were slowly lowering but they would still be about -20 C at this time, height about 17,000 feet above ground level.  And, at this temperature, such clouds are ultraripe for ice production by aircraft that may flay threw them.  See next photo for a POSSIBLE aircraft production of ice in these cold clouds.

 

10:43 AM.  Of course, all of you were looking for some aircraft perturbation I'm sure, and this seemed "too linear, too uniform in the ice produced, to be natural.  However, its not the ice canal, either, with clearings beginning on the sides.  In fact, the cloud seems thicker here posing an explanatory challenge.   Also counter to reason, why would an aircraft fly so far in what would have been light rime icing conditions in those Altocumulus clouds?  Lots of questions, no really good answers.
10:43 AM. Of course, all of you were looking for some aircraft perturbation I’m sure, and this seemed “too linear, too uniform, the crystals too small (as deduced by the sloping lines of virga underneath this line for the ice to be natural.  No other virga looked like this having straight fine lines underneath, the thing typical of contrails.   However, its not the typical  ice canal, either, with clearings beginning on the sides.  In fact, the cloud seems thicker here where an aircraft may have traversed it,  posing an explanatory challenge.  Also counter to reason, why would an aircraft fly so far in what would have been light rime icing conditions in those Altocumulus clouds?  Lots of questions, no really good answers.

 

11:07 AM.  Linear feature passes over Catalinaland.  Was hoping for a drop so I could claim it had rained in November, even if it was a phony rain.
11:07 AM. Linear feature passes over Catalinaland. Was hoping for a drop so I could claim it had rained in November, even if it had been a phony rain.

 

11:32 AM.  Looks phony to me!  Not a real cloud.  I think we're looking now at the tube of high concentrations ice crystals that slowing settled out of that Altocumulus layer--this tube BELOW the general layer, and having settled out after a few larger ice crystals fell out first.  Am about 60 % sure that's what happened.
11:32 AM. Looks phony to me! Not a real cloud. I think we’re looking now at the tube of high concentrations  tiny ice crystals that slowly settled out from that Altocumulus layer after an aircraft went through it–this tube to me appears to be BELOW the general layer, due to  settling out after a few larger ice crystals fell out first.    Am about 60 % sure that’s what happened and caused that linear feature.   Getting pretty worked up about, too.

Well, Shakespeare said it: “Much ado about nothing,” so it must be important if he said it.

Had some really nice cloud scenes after the big clearing came through in mid-afternoon:

3:38 PM.  Our typical spectacular lighting on the Catalinas scenes as storms move away.
3:38 PM. Our typical spectacular lighting on the Catalinas scenes as storms move away.

 

4:49 PM.  A dramatic finish to the day; light showers hit south and southwest of Tucson, but faded before arriving here.
4:49 PM. A dramatic finish to the day; light showers hit south and southwest of Tucson, but faded before arriving here.

There were some light showers that produced as much as 0.20 inches of rain in the south and east parts of Tucson late yesterday afternoon and evening.  Nice for them.

The weather way ahead

Nothing in the way of rain in the immediate future.  Have to wait until December for any real chances.  See this bad boy for December 6-7th, this panel only 360 h from now1!

Valid at 11 PM AST December 6th.  Note heaviest rain (those totals for the preceding 12 h) in Arizona is over Catalina!
Valid at 11 PM AST December 6th. Note that the heaviest rain  in Arizona is over Catalina! These are totals that accumulated in the 12 h prior to 11 PM AST.  Hope I made you that bit happier showing you this.  It’s a pretty cold system, too, might be a close call for snow here.

The End.

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1360 h in advance, even using our best model, is about in time like the distance to Betelgeuse in light years.  Hence, caution when the writer says, “only.”