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.
Doesn’t happen every November, thunder, but it sure pounded away at times yesterday. Seemed louder than usual thunder a few times even with the lightning over there by the Tortolita Mountains. Of course, that’s where the heaviest rain fell as several T-storms tracked along a similar path over there just a little to the W through N of us, Bio2, in one of the heavier cloberations receiving 1.17 inches.
Here, in The Heights, we received a disappointing, but nevertheless welcomed final total of 0.24 inches. This brings our total here in Sutherland Heights for November up to 0.60 inches. Average is 0.96 inches1. Here, the regional totals as the storm was coming to an end:
As is proper, let us begin examining the nubilations of our storm by looking at those clouds that preceded the actual rain day yesterday.
Moving ahead to yesterday…..
The great thing about yesterday was that because the upper trough lagged so much behind the cold front, you could be sure it wasn’t over, that is, the rain chances. In fact, as the wind turns aloft from a southerly or southwesterly direction to a more westerly one, we here in Catalina have a better chance of having the clouds pile up over us, even if they’re not full fledged Cumulonimbus clouds, they can still reach depths where they precipitate while upwind, they don’t because they may not be deep enough. The Catalina Mountains provides the lift that helps do this, and we saw that happen later in the afternoon and evening when it began to rain again long after the cold front and it so-so rain band went by.
The End, FINALLY!
1If we don’t get more rain by the end of November, I will delete the sentence of a week or so ago stating that November would have above average rainfall. No use having people see that.
4:32 PM. Mix of Altostratus and Altocumulus clouds, with just remnants of the lower Cu. Here it appears that a liquid layer of Altocumulus now resides at the bottom of the Altostratus, or may be embedded in it. The globular masses in the middle of this photo represent droplet clouds that appear to have merged into a plate. In the distance, the telltale sign of lowering tops: only droplet clouds, with a occasional splash of virga can be seen.
5:23 PM. Just a little before a great sunset, which I missed due to a social engagement, the shallow Altocumulus droplet clouds are plainly evident around the sun’s position. Above to center, the backside of the deeper Altostratus clouds with much higher tops, is about to pass over us. Here you can see, how much lower the Altocumulus cloud fragments are than the Altostratus layer as they are illuminated by the sun (upper center highlighted clouds).
All in all, a pretty pleasant day with interesting clouds passing by, though ultimately disappointing since at one time, this was to be a day with showers here. Oh, well, that’s weather forecasting for you.
Another minimal chance for showers comes up in the middle of next week…
Not as good as a rain day with lightning, but yesterday did have its moments in the sky, enough to make the astrologers on Mt. Lemmon jealous with displays of parhelia (“sun dogs”, or “mock suns”), faint haloes, a rare parhelic circle, something you don’t see but once every year or two, and fallstreifen (fall streaks) from Cirrus uncinus clouds going in almost opposite directions, an extremely rare sight.
The rare “parhelic circle” is a local brightening often extending out from a parhelia (sun dog) at a sharp angle, which I just learned about here1. Usually you don’t see a whole circle, just part of one.
These optic displays are caused by ice crystals, of course, ones not too complex, but rather simple ones like prisms, short solid columns, bullets, and hexagonal plates. Some examples of these can be seen here.
The bottom of yesterday’s moist layer was just above 30,000 feet at a temperature of -35° C and extended all the way up to about 40,000 feet above sea level where the temperature were around -65° C.
Some photos documenting the excitement of yesterday
Below, examples of cold Cirrocumulus, ones that quickly transition to Cirrus clouds.
No rain in sight for Catalinans, to get that over with.
However, if you’re bored and are thinking about a quickie storm chasing vacation with the family, monster storms, likely to produce newspaper headlines will be smashing the Pac NW in the next few days. Expect to read about flooding and hurricane to 100 mph winds on the Washington/Oregon coast sometime. Also, Tofino, British Columbia, along the SW coast of Vancouver Island, would be a great place to head for, watching giant waves crash up against the coast and around that lighthouse they have around there, pounding rains…
The long fetch with these storms in the Pacific guarantees some monster waves.
3:49 AM, 14 Oct: Mark “WeatherPal” Albright informed me that a 94 mph wind was observed last evening (the 13th) near Astoria, OR.
The next low, a “regular low” but one energized by leftover moisture from Typhoon Songda, looks to be even stronger than last night’s low. This one comes in moving really rapidly tomorrow evening while deepening (central pressure is dropping further) as it passes over the Washington coast. Looks like that one will be a “blow-down” storm; good-bye timber.
The synoptic pattern (placement of jet streams and lows) is “Freda-esque”, that is, similar to that of October 12, 1962, the infamous Columbus Day storm where a remnant of Typhoon Freda zipped in as a regular low that deepened explosively as it raced up the Pacific NW coast bringing winds of 100-200 mph and blowing down BILLIONS of board feet of timber as well as weather pal, Mark Albright, mentioned above, when he was a kid1.
Well, we sure hope its not THAT similar!
Lots of interesting patterns and complexities in yesterday’s skies. If you didn’t see them, here they are, though its kind of a much ado about nothing, really:
—————————- 1Mark. like most kids who are blown over in a windstorm, wanted to be a meteorologist right after that. Its pretty traumatic and life changing when you’re blown over by wind. CMP’s life was traumatized and changed forever when it snowed a few inches in the San Fernando Valley of southern California when he was six year’s old. Not sure you’ll find this information in the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders #5, however, but its a well-known phenomenon in the weather subculture.
Some rain fell about this time in Catalina. Not enough to darken the pavement completely at any time. The main thing to take away from that hour of very light rain is that it was not “drizzle” as even some errant meteorologists call such sprinkles.
You will be permanently banned from attending any future meetings of the cloud maven club if you refer to such rain as we had yesterday afternoon as “drizzle.” Drizzle is fine (200-500 micron in diameter drops that are very close together and practically float in the air. Because they fall so slowly, and are so small to begin with, you can’t have drizzle at the ground from clouds that are much more than a 1000 feet or so above the ground because as soon as they pop out the bottom, those drops start evaporating and fall slower and slower by the second, and in no time they can be gone even in moist conditions. That’ s why its somewhat hilarious and sad at the same time, when, in particular, military sites for some unknown reason, report ersatz “drizzle: (coded as L, or L-) in our hourly aviation reports from clouds that are based at 5000 feet or something CRAZY like that.
This band of Nimbostratus/Altostratus had a backside that approached as the sun went down, and as you know, that clearing let some sunlight enrich and dramatize the views of our beloved Catalina Mountains:
The amazing rains ahead
Nothing that you don’t already know about, so no use me blabbing about it too much. But in case you haven’t seen it, The Return of Joe Low (after over-hydrating over the warm waters of the eastern Pacific), is expected over the next couple of days, with a little help from another disturbance, to bring colossal rains to eastern Arizona and especially New Mexico.
Below, from our friendly U of A Wildcat Weather Department a model run from yesterday’s 5 PM global data (the Wildcat’s downsize the US WRF-GFS model in this awesome depiction).
Check out the totals expected by the evening of October 23 rd. Stupendous. Usually these totals are a bit overdone, but even so…… Will take a nice bite out of drought.
Gasp these late April totals from the Pima County ALERT gauges, as of whenever you look, along side our Sutherland Heights total, as of 7 AM now, of 0.58 inches. This total is about the normal for the month of April here. Fantastic. Several nearby mountain and Catalina foothill totals are well over an inch with Oracle Ridge having 1.50 inches! However, the top of Ms. Mt. Lemmon is reporting nothing, which means the precip there is falling as snow. Nice couple of thunderblasts last night between 1:30 and 2 AM, too.
Yesterday, the latest wrf-goofus model (executed by the U of AZ at 11 PM AST night before last), had no rain in Catalina, and only a pittance in the mountains east of us.
Still a chance for measurable rain during the day today, too, but it’ll be gone by tomorrow, and it’ll likely bt a long time before rain returns.
The End, for now, anyway.
1Total is from a CoCoRahs gauge, not the Davis Vantage Pro online tipping bucket, which registers slightly low.
“My fingers are crossed for a much more typical event for 2015/16, but then again we seem to be in a very similar place as we were last year at this time (caveat part of e-mail) only a bit warmer in the tropics.”
“We shall see!”
—-from Nate M., NOAA SW Fisheries Center El Niño expert, personal communication, received just yesterday! Excitement abounds!
But, we will see as well…
Below, a different SST anomaly visual from NOAA:
There is a LOT of warmer than normal water out there! As we know now, the newly discovered “California Niño” helped tropical storms whisk into Arizona late last summer and fall stronger and wetter than they normally would be by providing warmer waters than normal over which they traveled while heading toward AZ. Think of something like the highly-caffeinated “Jolt Cola” in sea surface temperatures for those storms.
Slackening onshore winds along the West Coast last spring and summer created the Cal Niño, something now known to occur from time to time over the decades. And that warm water wasn’t much perturbed by strong storms during the winter, ones that can mix colder water to the surface. The Cal Niño means that IF any storm strikes the West Coast, they would be a little wetter than usual since the air holds more water in it when its warmer.
In the meantime, the much-heralded El Niño of a year ago1 deflated like a New England Patriots game time football into a pile of nothing, wrecking the expectations of frequent late winter and spring rains in the Great SW. Thankfully we had that ONE great, several inches rainstorm at the end of January2 and a couple of vegetation-sustaining rains thereafter.
What does all this mean for our immediate future? Will the late spring be wet? Will we have a great summer rain season?
I don’t know.
But, next winter could be great!
Today’s clouds and weather
Rain is expected to be around today, sprinkles, maybe some thunder due to a weak low aloft passing to the south of us. Cloud drift is supposed to be from the east off the Catalinas, and with the unusual warmth, the day will LOOK like a day in July or August, nice Cumulus building off the mountains in the later morning, reaching the ice-forming level fairly quickly, and then, as you know, out pops the virga and precip. So, it will be a nice photogenic day for you. Check this nice graphic of the expected temperature profiles today from the U of A.
The weather WAY ahead
Recall that today and tomorrow, at one time, as was mentioned here, we were going to experience one of the greatest storms ever observed for this time of year. Well, today’s situation is what’s left of that forecast, a coupla puny showers around, and, sure a trough is here all right, but what a disappointment!
In the meantime, forgetting about the perpetual disappointments for big rains foretold about two weeks in advance, we are once again excited by another great rain here in the far model horizon of just two weeks from now, in mid-April!
Yesterday’s clouds and more
1Not just here, but by people that know more than I do, like the CPC.
2Water is still coming down from the mountains from that 4-6 incher in the Catalina Mountains, water that can be seen still pouring over great boulders in the higher reaches of our mountains producing the morning “glistening rocks” phenomenon. “Glistening Rocks”…. That would be a great title for a love song, a sad one, because as we all know, sooner or later, we won’t see the water producing glistening rocks anymore from the big January rain. So it would have to be about a love that starts out so strong, but then fades over time, finally disappearing altogether.
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….
1While several inches of model2 rain has occurred in Catalina and in the nearby mountains this month, most of which cloud-maven person has festooned his blog with model panels of, there really hasn’t been any ACTUAL rain.
But having said that, there is even MORE model rain ahead, some beginning tomorrow in these parts. Tomorrow’s rain comes from a sub-tropical minor wave ejecting from the sub-tropics. You know, as a CMJ, a wave from that zone means a ton of high and middle clouds, i.e., likely DENSE Altostratus with virga, something that was seen yesterday off to the SW of us. This time, though, some rain should fall from these thick clouds, though almost certainly will be in the trace to a tenth of an inch range between tomorrow and Monday morning.
Model rain from 11 PM AST global data then falls in Catalina on:
with the model total rain in these periods likely surpassing an inch or more! What a model rain winter season this has been! Astounding. The model washes have been running full since late December, too!
BTW, that last model rain period is really a great one, a major rain for ALL of Arizona!
Some recent clouds I have known and a couple of wildflowers
The End. Hope you enjoy the copious model rains ahead!