0.24 inches was recorded after 7 AM yesterday, bringing our voluptuous rain total to 0.95 inches1. How nice.
Dry spell ahead now, maybe a LONG one. “Fiddle-dee-dee.”
Yesterday: another day shallow precipitating clouds and “ice multiplication”
Seemed to be another day of “ice multiplication” here in southeast Arizona, a term that was coined in 1969 by Peter Hobbs of the University of Washington when he and his group reported that clouds were snowing on the peaks of the Olympic Mountains when the cloud top temperatures were warmer than -10° C (14° F). They had a hut on the top of Mt. Olympus at 7,000 feet! Lots of stories about that experiment, many swirling around Abdul Alkezweeny, a Peter Hobbs grad student in those days. An aircraft with skis landed up there to bring supplies! Imagine. (Yours truly was not embedded in the Hobbs group at that time.) It was an exciting time in that group, prior to the acquisition of their first research aircraft, WWII B-23 “tail dragger.” Peter himself, did not fly in this with RARE exception. Many flights were quite sickening, bumping around in Cumulus and small Cumulonimbus clouds, spinning around power plants stacks, wings vertical to ground….
His group’s observations, however, were not the first, but were among many airborne and ground reports in the mid and 1960s that left jaws dropping about how much ice was in clouds at these moderately supercooled temperatures, even in clouds with tops as warm as -4° C. It was believed, in various ways that ice nuclei measurements were made on the ground, or in aircraft measurements, that not much ice would be found in clouds until the top temperatures was lower than -20° C. In fact, it was generally believed that only about one ice particle per liter would be found in clouds with tops as cold at -20° C, while actual observations were telling a much different story.
This discrepancy between measured ice nuclei concentrations is a scientific enigma that is still being investigated today! And it appears that me and you cloud maven juniors out there got to see it again yesterday, the second day in a row to see an cloud-ice enigma (“nigma” for short)!
Let us continue this module by examining the assertion of “ice multiplication” with the TUS balloon soundings for yesterday morning and evening as rendered by IPS MeteoStar:
These soundings strongly suggest at the start and end of the day, that coldest cloud tops were warmer or no colder than -10° C.
However, the fly in the oatmeal here is that a cold front and associated wind shift came through in the mid-morning hours, heralded by an little arcus cloud, and cloud tops would have been somewhat colder during that period of rain; we don’t know for sure how much, and satellite imagery suggested lower temperatures, though possibly due to over-riding CIrrus cloud above the “Nimbostratus” layer that produced the steady light rain.
However, the rain before the front went by, and the very light rain showers that fell in the late afternoon were likely well represented by the TUS soundings. That’s my case! Wish I’d had a cloud-instrumented yesterday and the day before. Woulda got a paper out of it: “Ice multiplication rampant in Arizona!”
Yesterday’s actual clouds
No more hand-waving…. Let’s see if it really was raining near the time of the TUS soundings above. Picture of the day:
That was phase one of yesterday’s weather, rain from shallow clouds.
Phase 2 is, “The front marches in across the OV! Cloud depth not so certain, but is probably not real deep, as inferred from the disappointing amount of rain that fell so lightly from the frontal band in spite of its dramatic entrance, fronted by an arcus, wind shift cloud.”
But, as those who live here know, some of our best scenes are AFTER after the rain has stopped and the skies partially clear. Yesterday was no exception. But first, the Stratus, which you don’t see too often:
Looks like only streamers of high and middle cloud from the tropics as California gets blasted with extremely heavy rains over the next two weeks. Totals in favored central and northern California coastal ranges, and in the central and northern Sierras will fall between 20 and 30 inches of rain during this period. A great place for you and me to be would be near the King Range, Shelter Cove (see below), or Honeydew to see those pounders.
1The online gauge is a Davis tipping bucket. It has been consistently under-measuring totals recorded in the NWS 8-inch diameter gauge, and the 4-inch diameter, ground-mounted (it sits on the ground among grasses and weeds) CoCoRahs gauge. CoCoRahs is a national organization of rain and snow measuring nuts (haha, just kidding-they’re really precipophiles like me) all over the country and overseas as well. You can find them here. Part of the reason for the under-measurement of the Davis instrument is loss due to wind. That tipping bucket sits up at about 6 feet off the ground, thus sees a lot more wind than gauges on the ground. A gauge on the ground, away from tall objects, is always the best way to go! The reason for this explanation is because if you go to Wundermaps or Weather Underground and see the total for this site, it is ALWAYS going to be low compared to the actual amount that fell. This is a degradation that has come up over the past year or two.