Yesterday, after an ordinary beginning,, finished in a spectacular, if likely artificial way. Let us work our way through yesterday’s cloudulations:
Later that morning…..
But let’s go zooming up to flight level and take a closer look for a second:
Now, where was I? Got mammatus on my mind again. I love mammatus so much… Oh, yeah, that sunset yesterday…..
And the sun did its job….producing one of the greatest sunset scenes we’ve seen in a long time, even if phony (haha):
Finally, let look at the TUS sounding for last evening, see how cold those Ac cloud were with the ice trail in them:
The astounding thing here, something that goes against everything I believe about clouds, is that it is indicated that the Altocumulus, lacking much natural ice, was at -30° C! Yikes! No wonder aircraft were producing ice trails and stuff yesterday afternoon.
You have to conclude there were almost no natural “ice nuclei” up there at, oh about 24,000 feet above sea level. This is not the first time for such an occurrence of liquid clouds sans much ice at low temperatures1, but they are rare IME. This would never occur in a boundary layer cloud, that is, one where material from the earth’s surface is getting into the clouds, like the omnipresent dust, or biogenic ice nuclei.
The weather ahead
Some “fantasy” storms with rain in them for Catalina, are now seen on the model predictions beyond a week. Spaghetti is favoring this new development now. So, something to keep an eye on.
The view from here? Precip here is “in the bag” because going on subjective feelings, I really want to see a good rain here!
1The famous John Hallett said he saw an Altocumulus lenticularis sans ice at -35°C in a conference preprint! Rangno and Hobbs (1986) claimed to have detected droplets in Altocumulus like clouds at the top of a storm on the Washington coast at -44°C. Their claim, first published in a conference preprint, was later rejected by the J. Atmos. Sci.
As the morning wore on, the Altocumulus deck faded away, moving east, and we were left with some Cirrus clouds, but what kind?
Well, that was it for photography yesterday.
Doesn’t seem to be any reliable indication of rain in sight. Oh, sure, rain here pops up in the models almost every day, but its about 12-15 days out. As the model gets closer to the day it predicted rain, it seems to go away like the “water mirage” on a hot paved road; always ahead of you, but you never get to it. We’ve had some major rains indicated in the models as of a few days ago, but spaghetti was never very high on those events (clustering those crazy lines in a trough over us), so it wasn’t even worth mentioning.
Many strange1 and wonderful sights were seen yesterday; I could feel the excitement out there as one cloud microstructural mystery after another regaled our Catalina skies.
How cold are these clouds? Lets look at the TUS sounding, launched at about 3:30 AM yesterday morning.
That bank of Altocumulus was racing at more than 50 mph toward Catalina, and so it got here in a hurry. And, as it got closer, it was also getting more into some airways at that height, possibly descents into PHX since the height of those clouds was below normal jet cruising levels at 23,000 feet Above Sea Level.
Now for the aircraft effects. Hardly a few minutes go by before aircraft began marking up this cold Altocumulus layer. Notice that it doesn’t seem to be producing much or any ice on its own, making aircraft inadvertent seeding lines and holes where tremendous numbers of ice crystals are generated immediately present. Here’s the first of many:
Heading for Catalina, this:
Here’s the south end of that ice canal:
Looking straight up at the icy heart of a hole punch region caused by an aircraft. I am sure you have never done this before! This is gonna be a great blog with all these new things for you!
As the south end of the original ice canal began to enter the refraction zone for simple ice crystals around the sun, usually at the 22° degree halo position, things began to light up with a particularly bright circumzenithal arc (more often observed on a halo) or colorful (in this case) partial “reverse halo”. The colors (iridescence) due to the refracting of light within very small ice crystals. Normally iridescence is seen near the sun in Cirrocumulus clouds or the then edges of other droplet clouds. Very exciting.
Then this strange sight:
The day closed out with a lower layer of Altocumulus moving in, this layer, according to the TUS sounding, at “only’ -17° C, and little ice detected. Below, at 2:09 PM:
U of AZ mod thinks so light rain will develop around here in the mid-later afternoon.
1“stragne” above, originally an inadvertent typo, but left in place as another cheap trick to get draw the curiosity of readers who might wonder what stragne is.
“Too many pictures, for one site…”, a continuing theme here1, to paraphrase “? and the Mysterians1“.
Two stations near Picture Rocks reported 1.25 and 1.35 inches, respectively, so some major rain fell fairly close to us. You can see the amount arounds around the State or here at the Banner U of AZ rainlog,org site.
Below your October 8th, 2016 cloud day, a Saturday in which the author’s former company fubball team, the Washington Huskies, spanked the Nike University of Oregon Duck, 70-21, ending years of futility against the billionaire’s sports teams. Too bad Washington multi-billionaire Gates is more interested in saving the world instead of helping the Huskies get better in sports like Phil Knight does with The Duck there in Duckville, OR….
Oh, well, off task there for a minute. I’m back now!
Now, here where the excitement begins. Recall Mike L. and Bobby Maddox, both super experts concerning convection, called for severe storms and large hail today due to what the models were showing in the vertical wind profile and the amount of moisture available. Below, we start yesterday chapter of convection, and see where it leads.
1If you don’t believe ? said something like that, go here
The clouds were somewhat of a disappointment yesterday, not the stupendous photogenic day CM was expecting.
Maybe CM is total fraud, gets Big Oil funding and should be investigated by Rep. Grijalva as other weather folk are, like the great Prof. and National Academy of Sciences Fellow, Dr. Judy Curry, a friend, and about whom I say on a link to her blog here, and from this blog’s very beginning, “The only link you will need.” I said that because Judy2 is a top scientist, and is eminently fair in this polarized issue.
I am in real trouble! Will remove that link immediately1 before our very own “climate thought enforcer”, Demo Rep. Grijalva, AZ, finds it using a spy bot! No telling how far down the influence chain it will go, maybe all the way down to here, where there is virtually no influence!
Back to clouds…….
Only late in the day did the delicate patterns expected to happen ALL DAY appear, again, with iridescence, always nice to see.
The media, Bob, and our good NWS, of course, are all over the incoming rain in great detail. In fact, it will take you half a day to read all the warnings on this storm issued by our Tucson NWS.
So why duplicate existing information that might be only slightly different than the prevailing general consensus on the storm amounts, and then maybe be investigated for going against a consensus? No, not worth it. Best to be safe, not say things against The Machine. (OK, maybe overdoing it here.)
In the meantime, the upper low off southern Cal and Baja has fomented an extremely strong band of rain, now lying across SE Cal and the Colorado River Valley where dry locations like Blythe are getting more than an inch over the past 24 h. Same for northern Baja where some places are approaching 2-3 inches, great for them. You can see how the rain is piling up in those locations here. In sum, this is a fabulous storm for northern Mexico and the SW US, whether WE get our 0.915 inches, as foretold here, or not! Rejoice in the joy of others. Looking for an arcus cloud fronting the main rainband, too, that low hanging cloud in a line that tells you a windshift is coming. Still expecting, hoping, for thunder today to add to the wind and rain drama.
Also, the present cloud cover, as the trough ejects toward us, will deepen up and rain will form upwind and around here as that happens, so it won’t JUST be the eastward movement of the existing band. This means you might be surprised by rain if you’re outside hiking and think the band itself is hours away. Expecting rain to be in the area by mid-morning, certainly not later than noon, with the main blast (fronted by something akin to an arcus cloud) later in the day. OK, just checked the U of AZ mod run from 11 PM AST, and that is what it is saying as well! Wow.
Finally, if you care, yesterday’s clouds:
Below, just some pretty patterns observed later in the day. Click to see larger versions.
Whew, the end.
1Not!!!!!! I thought this was a good read about this deplorable new stage of “climate thought enforcement” now in progress. It was brought to my attention by climate folk hero, friend, and big troublemaker, Mark Albright. Wow, maybe Mark will be investigated, too! Maybe I should excise his name….
2I remember, too, how cute she was when she worked my lab/office at the University of Washington in the mid-1980s, and thought about asking her out, to detract from a serious commentary here. She was a Penn State grad student, not a U of WA employee; still, to ask her out would have been untoward. A human commentary like this, one about feelings and things, help boost blog attendance.
If you thought those high clouds were moving faster than usual, you were right. The winds were about 120 mph at that level, about 28,000 feet above sea level, and just over 150 mph a few thousand feet above that level.
You may have noticed two things, if you are good, that there were repeated formations of delicate Cirrocumulus clouds, likely starting as liquid drops, but quickly transitioned into Cirrus. Sometimes, it was just flocculent Cirrus the whole way to us from the west.
The second thing that you may have noticed was that there was always an upwind clearing zone that remained stationary until late afternoon when it finally passed overhead. Yesterday’s high clouds formed at that back edge.
How can you tell that the upwind edge of that sheet of clouds was initially composed of liquid droplets, but then froze naturally within a minute or three as it jetted downstream?
Perform an experiment to demonstrate the two phases.
In this case we will have an ice producing aircraft fly through both regions, the droplet region, and also the region where no droplets exist because they have frozen and are growing larger and larger as ice crystals.
What will be the predictable result of two ice-producing aircraft flying through these two different phases?
In the liquid cloud region, an ice canal will develop as the appearance of ice in a droplet cloud results in the evaporation of liquid droplets, the molecules of vapor from the evaporating droplets provide “food” for fattening ice crystals, where “deposition” takes place. Under a microscope you would see the crystals getting larger, growing extensions; you would not be able to see the molecules producing that, of course.
The result of our experiment, something you likely will never see again in my lifetime:
Was holding breath, thinking about that CV enhancement, waiting for the TUS sounding, which was already in the air when these last few photos were taken, and, more importantly, it was going up near where the clouds were forming, so the moist level intercepted and its temperature would be pretty accurate for this shots. Now, if its -40 C, oh man, we got a pub! -36 C, maybe. Temperature greater than about -35 C? No pub, well, except here, which is something. That’s because liquid drops at temperatures between -30 and -35 C have been reported by remote sensing and aircraft repeatedly. Nature abhors forming an ice crystal in clouds without going through the liquid phase first.
Within a couple of hours the TUS sounding was in, and here it is:
I wasn’t going to get a journal pub. I thought about that guy that thought he was going to win the Nobel Prize…..and I know now how he felt.
Now about those pretty patterns, by Simon and Garfunkel. Enjoy.
Jet core at 18,000 feet now passing overhead and DRIZZLE or very light rain from warm processes now (4:15 AM) evident on the Catalina Mountains. The passage of that jet core at that level (500 millibars) seems to be an almost black-white measurable rain or no rain discriminator in the Southwest US, so as that happens right now, chances of some measurable rain are good. Still not expected to be more than 0.25 inches, but will now at least be 0.01!
The low clouds are pretty shallow now, and, if they rain, shallow clouds with tops warmer than -5 C (23 F) have to be pretty clean for that to happen. Clean clouds is got bigger droplets, ones that reach the Hocking-Jonas threshold of between 30-40 microns in size and can collide and stick together forming still much larger drops that collect more and more tiny cloud droplets, kind of a chain reaction, as Nobel Laureate in chemistry Irving Langmuir described it back in 1948 after he got interested in clouds and rainmaking.
However, the “collision with coalescence process will be short-lived as cloud tops go up to well below freezing level this morning, and real rain falls (as is happening now (7:18 AM) down in TUS and to our NW.
Measurable rain should be just on the doorstep, and it will have to develop in upwind clouds as they approach us and the air begins to rise as it goes uphill from the lower deserts and encounters the Catalinas’ there isn’t much in the way of radar echoes upwind of us now.
The development of rain in clouds as they approach us in marginal rain situations like this one is not terribly unusual. Sometimes, as a friend pointed out, new echoes in deepening clouds can appear over and over again near where I-10 runs to the SW and W of us in a purely orographic situation.
This is what CMP is hoping for, and the result of that might be a tenth of an inch or more.
Here it is. You may need an optical enhancement tool to see the radar echo speck nearest Catalina, and its not the one nearest the arrowhead below, but continue in that direction:
You can also check on all the rain that fell overnight in the region here, courtesy of Pima County ALERT rain gauges. BTW, they aren’t capable of reporting traces, so if you see bunches of zeroes, it doesn’t mean some drops didn’t fall somewhere in the network.
Non-verification of this rain can also be found via our fine TUS NWS “storm total” view, 10:30 PM to 4:30 AM this morning:
In the meantime, all those rainy cloud blobs to our NW right now (first image) look like they will be able to just make it to Catalinaland after all.
In our last chapter, it looked like the strong cold front would move through tomorrow as just a dry cold one, but now the chances of having a little rain (a wet cold one) have been zooming up. The models have readjusted their thinking and now that critical ingredient, the core of the jet stream (at 500 mb) passing over us ahead of the trough core itself is being predicted.
And with that configuration as the front goes by Catalina, and believe me you’ll know by the 10-15 degree temperature drop, a tiny amount of rain might fall. Also, look for a pronounced lowering of cloud bases to the W-N of Catalina as it gets close, something in the way of an “arcus cloud”, marking the leading edge of the windshift to the N. Could be nice and dramatic looking tomorrow. Those cloud base lowerings are pretty common with fronts here.
How much rain?
Oh, possibilities range between 0 (a complete bust is still possible) to only about 0.25 inches, tops in the “best” of circumstances. But, this keyboard would like to see ANYTHING measurable; that would bring happiness.
There are some more rain blobs showing up in regular intervals in the days ahead for you to think about, as rendered by IPS MeteoStar. Arrows have been added to show you where you are, if you are in SE Arizona:
In the storm below, which is pretty much going to happen now, the range of amounts as seen from here, at least 0.15 inches, top, 0.50 inches, best guess, therefore, 0.33 inches (from averaging the two.)
There’s great uncertainly in whether this last storm will actually occur, so range of amounts are zero to 1 inch. :} See reasons for uncertainty below, besides being too far in advance or our models to be reliable anyway.
While a significant storm on the 1st is virtually assured according to spaghetti, this last major event in the panel above is doubtful. See below, in another lesson on consuming weather spaghetti:
Yesterday’s fine clouds
The End, though I COULD go on and on and on, and then on some more. Its who I am….
First you had the rarely seen “Aircraft Produced Ice Particles” (APIPs, or “High Temperature Aircraft Contrails” (HTACs) in supercooled Altocumulus in the afternoon. Contrails were being produced in clouds that were “only” -20 C to -30 C (-4 to -22 F) and aircraft contrails were thought to be impossible at those temperatures, but rather, only at much lower ones, below -40 C (-40 F) or so.
Then, just after sunset, the heavy layer of Altocumulus produced a sun pillar! I was out in Saddlebrooke having dinner with friends after sunset, so had to leave dinner for about ten minutes, but I was so excited for you that I had to see it for myself, too. Since it would have been obscenely rude to tell my dinner friends the true reason why I left, when I got back after many minutes I told them I had to pee, and that seemed to go over pretty well I thought1.
Below, a coupla shots of that sun pillar I got while “peeing” on your behalf:
Let us look at our sounding and see if we can see how cold those Altocumulus clouds were:
Here are some of the magical, rare scenes from aircraft making ice canals in those very cold supercooled Altocumulus clouds:
Skipping to the chase, as hard as that is to do, this trail really lit up as it got to the 22 degree point from the sun, where mock suns and such happen, producing a rainbow of colors due to iridescence, a rainbow producing by very tiny ice crystals in this case, of the order of a few microns in size.
Guess about today’s clouds
Maybe a few Cirrus, patch or two of Cirrocumulus, and likely lenticular clouds, particularly off to the north.
The big storm everyone’s talking about?
Oh, yeah, baby, its still comin’, begins on Wednesday, New Year’s Eve in the afternoon, continues for about 24 h off and on.
Bracketing possible precip totals: still 0.25 inches on the bottom (10% chance of less), 1.50 inches on the top (10% chance of more). Average of those two often brings the best estimate, which would be about 0.87 inches, somewhere in there. You know, when you deal with wobbly cut off lows, you just can’t be real confident in how much rain they’ll bring. However, it looks like the north part of the State will get the brunt in snow, which will be great for the water situation.
1It would be fun to hear what your excuses were as a “CMJ”–Cloud Maven Junior, if you were in a similar predicament last evening and HAD to see that rare sun pillar, rather than meet new people at dinner who wouldn’t be able to understand you anyway because you are compulsed like that; leave a great dinner to go outside in cold air to take cloud photos.
Well, nobody really understands a CM.
I remember in grammar school and Junior High in Reseda, CA, when kids teased me on clear days , saying, “Hey, Artie! Is it gonna rain today?” Then they would laugh at me for being a CM before I even answered the question, knowing all the while what the answer was going to be. Still, out of civility, I would answer them: “No, we’re having Santa Ana conditions now and it can’t rain for at least five days”, but they would still be laughing in the midst of my explanation about why it wasn’t going to rain. Kind of a sad scene when you think about it, that is, how mean kids can be to kids who are different. Later, when I became a pretty good athlete, they liked me, which shows how important athletics is over knowing stuff, and helping you “fit in.”
2 “Pristine” means that can’t be gunked up by having collected cloud droplets on their faces because then the optics, like sun pillars, mock suns, that kind of thing can’t happen if the crystals are messed up with droplets on them or a lot of extra hexagonal arms sticking out of them, as in bullet rosette ice crystals.
Friends, arriving this afternoon from Seattle for a sunny and warm couple of vacation days, will find that Catalina weather today is exactly like the weather they left in Seattle; poor Tommy and Patty.
Clouds will fill in as the day goes on, becoming pretty cloudy at times, especially in the afternoon hours. They will starting to ice up, too, and you know what that means; they’ll produce virga and light showers in the area, with breezes and a high of only in the low 50s.
Be sure to record the first sighting of ice in clouds today. Will be a nice test for you, and a great ob in your cloud diary.
Still expecting a pretty major storm next week.
Got 0.12 inches in the gauge last evening.
In the meantime, meet members of the former Cloud and Aerosol Research Group at the University of Washington, Professor Peter V. Hobbs, director.
Tom, who arrives today from Seattle, was our group’s software engineer at the University of Washington. He was kind of recluse we learned after he was hired. Liked to have a lot of high vegetation around his desk in our lab where me and a grad student worked. However, unlike a prior software engineer, who was also brilliant like Tom, Tom really never fell asleep at his desk that we know of.
Our first software engineer was Doug, shown meditating below.He was great! Worked long hours that often took their toll in the daytime.
But, not to demean “Doug” whatsoever, who truly WAS brilliant, and his software helped enormously to grease the wheel of our group’s aircraft data analyses, and who also made a lot of money when he joined the then fledgeling Microsoft in the early 1980s, took his job especially seriously, He liked to let people know how seriously, and exactly how much he loved working with computers. And he dressed to show it.
Cloud and Aerosol Researcher, “Stan”, monitoring cloud particle data on a flight over the Washington coastal waters.
It was a fact, that as I got embedded into perhaps the best Atmospheric Science Department in the world, I also learned that science draws “unusual”, maybe even quirky folk, and “meditating” while on the job, perhaps “awaking” with new, substantive realizations of relationships, or ways of presenting data, was pretty common, not just with Doug:
But there were other quirky characteristics that turned up, like “Germophobe John”, shown below, who actually shared my lab room for many years:
Then there was that one guy who worked as part of the flight crew who specialized in looking like John Denver, and liked to come in to work in the morning and report that someone on the bus he rode thought he was John Denver. Seemed to get a lot of satisfaction out of that, which in retrospect is kind of sad when you think about it.
Me? I was pretty normal, really not too much affected by the various quirky people around me. From those halcyon days, a selfie:
There was some thought, however, that any quirkiness that was exhibited in our personnel might have been due to the various cancer-causing chemicals we worked with, one of which was Formvar, used to capture images of ice crystals that would hit the liquid Formvar on movie film rotating in the arm of a probe that stuck out of a pod, or a glass slide that stuck out a hole on a stick in the plane. In both cases, the crystal would hit the liquid Formvar, which would dry VERY fast, and then the impression of the crystal would be left in the plastic Formvar.
Below, “Diana”, and “Brad”, a brilliant grad student, at least before he started working with Formvar, examine a jar of the smelly stuff.
3:53 PM. This was about an hour before virga and falling snow began to obscure the tops of Samaniego Ridge and Mt. Ms. Lemmon. Here the streaks, crespuscular rays, are NOT caused by precip, but rather dust
Some additional scenes from a 4 h yesterday into the Sam Ridge foothills:
Stuck here, might reached a limit, can’t seem to add photos, and there are too many already.
And with the last troughy coming across tomorrow during the day, with another chance of light rain then, too. Looks like we’ll easily go over 2 inches for the month of December (1.94 inches now), the first above normal in rainfall winter month since November a year ago.
Yesterday’s clouds and flowers
Not as widespread or dense as expected in the afternoon, but prettier, which helps counteract error. Let us begin our review of clouds with some paper flowers; there are still some blooms out there! Amazing.
The weather way ahead
Threat of a larvae killing cold wave later this month fading; looks like that cold air will end up in the eastern US now, and no further precip after the series this week. Darn.