Category Archives: Rain shafts

Cbs off early and often yesterday

Day went pretty much as planned for us by the models, with Cumulonimbus (“Cbs”, in texting form) clouds arising early and often, moving in from the SW, more of a fall pattern (which is approaching too fast for this Cb-manic person).  If anything, those clouds arose earlier than expected with dramatic morning results;

But those storms that got here divided as they approached The Heights yesterday;  cell cores went right and left with places like Black Horse Ranch down by Golder Drive getting 0.53 inches, and a place in Saddlebrooke, 0.94 inches yesterday, while we only received 0.23 inches.

Seeing this happen in real life was tough.  Still, there was a last rain burst after only 0.14 had fallen that was really great as the sky began to break open and the sun was almost out when it happened.   That last parting shower dropped a final 0.09 inches in just a few minutes.  So, maybe we were a little lucky.

BTW, you can get area rainfall from the Pima County ALERT gauges here for the past 24 h.  And, also, from the U of AZ rainlog network hereUSGSCocoNWS climate reports.  (Editorial aside (earlier cuss word, “dammitall”, has been removed)—WHY don’t they gather all the rain reports into one comprehensive site???!!!)

 

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7:04 AM. Soft top Cumulonimbus protrudes high above other clouds producing a long shadow on a lower Altocumulus perlucidus layer.
7:04 AM.  Soft-serve Cumulonimbus calvus top emerges above lower Cu and Altocumulus clouds.
7:04 AM. “Soft-serve” Cumulonimbus calvus top emerges above lower Cu and Altocumulus clouds.  This kind of top goes with weaker updrafts, likely less than 10 mph.

 

10:04 AM.  Showers and heavy Cumulus (Cumulus congestus) continued to range along the Catalina Mountains toward Oracle.
10:04 AM. Showers and heavy Cumulus (Cumulus congestus) continued to range along the Catalina Mountains toward Oracle. These were nice clouds.
10:14 AM.  Looking in the upwind direction from Catalina, not much going on though storms are raging in the Catalina Mountains.  That farthest line of bases, though,  drew your attention yesterday, I am sure, given the explosive conditions we had for storms.
10:14 AM. Looking in the upwind direction from Catalina, not much going on though storms are raging in the Catalina Mountains. That farthest line of bases, with that fat one out there toward I-10, though, drew your attention yesterday, I am sure, given the explosive conditions we had for storms.
10:36 AM.  OK, this is looking potent.  Finally, tops have reached the ice-forming level and precip is ejecting out.
10:36 AM. OK, this is looking potent. Finally, tops have reached the ice-forming level and precip is beginning to eject out the bottom of the one on the right.  So big, high, top visible, which was of concern, thinking it might only be a light rainshower.  Generally, the higher the tops, the more that falls out the bottom1.
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10:57 AM. A two part panorama of the incoming, broken line of storms. Part A above, looking SSW with Pusch Ridge on the far left.

 

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10:57 AM. Part B of panorama, looking at this exciting line of showers and thunderstorms toward Twin Peaks, Marana, and Oro Vall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11:07 AM.

11:07 AM. A strong shaft has developed, indicating much higher tops than in the earlier scene above at 10:57 AM.
11:07 AM.

11:07 AM.  Close up for instructional purposes.  Let’s say you’re hang gliding and want to go up into the clouds.  That lower extension next to the rain shaft is where the strongest updrafts would be, and, on top of it, the fastest rising top.  Have a nice ride!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11:14 AM.  Hole in rain aiming for house!  Will cloud roll, buoyed my outflowing winds ahead of rainy areas develop new rain shafts?
11:14 AM. Hole in rain aiming for house!  This could be bad!  Will cloud roll ahead of rain areas, buoyed my outflowing winds ahead of them develop new rain shafts?

 

12:23 PM.  By this time it was all over, the 0.23 inches had fallen, leaving some evidence of flooding.  In a change of pace, I wanted to get that evidence in combined with a sky photo so that you could see that there were still clouds around.
12:23 PM. By this time it was all over, the 0.23 inches had fallen, leaving some evidence of flooding. In a change of pace, I wanted to get that evidence in combined with a sky photo so that you could see that there were still clouds around.  Cloud has some ice in it, too.

 

3:53 PM.  A final threat of rain appeared as the winds turned briskly from the north and new turrets formed above it and, for a time, headed toward Catalina.  It was a dramatic scene, to be sure, but one that disappointed.  The clouds forming about the outrushing wind from heavy rain to the north, diminished in size as they approached, no longer reaching high enough to form precip.  Partly this is because of our lower temperatures yesterday afternoon, and because when the air goes southbound from areas to the north, its always moving a little downhill and that works against new clouds, too.
3:53 PM. A final threat of rain appeared as the winds turned briskly from the north and new turrets formed above it and, for a time, headed toward Catalina. It was a dramatic scene, to be sure, but one that disappointed. The clouds forming about the outrushing wind from heavy rain to the north, diminished in size as they approached, no longer reaching high enough to form precip. Partly this is because of our lower temperatures yesterday afternoon, and because when the air goes southbound from areas to the north, its always moving a little downhill and that works against new clouds, too.

 

3:59 PM.  While the dissipation of those clouds was disappointing and not unexpected, to be honest, still it was good to be out and see how green the desert has gotten since the end of July.
3:59 PM. While the dissipation of those clouds to the north was disappointing and not unexpected, to be honest, still it was good to be out and see how green the desert has gotten since the end of July.

 

The End

Oops today is supposed to be drier witih isolated Cbs, more tomorrow as moisture from TS Lowell leaks into AZ.

The extremely strong hurricane that forms after TS Lowell is sometimes, in the mods, seen to go into southern or central Cal (!) as a weak remnant circulation or stay well offshore, as in the latest 11 PM AST run from last night.So, lots of uncertainty there.  Check out the spaghetti below for the bad news:

Valid in ten days, Aug
Valid in ten days, Aug. 19th, 5 PM AST.  Those blue circles WSW of San Diego represent a clustering of the most likely position of that hurricane then.  And, that cluster is too far to the west to us, or maybe even southern Cal any “good.”

—————————–Historic footnote——————————
1“TIme to be distracted from the task at hand…. “Generally”, of course, is a fudge word. For example, in the tropics, it was learned back in the 1960s that rain fell as hard as it could about the time the tops reached the freezing level, and before ice had formed. Didn’t rain any harder even if the tops went to 30 or 40 thousand feet!   These results were confirmed in aircraft measurements in the Marshall Islands, oh, back in ’99 (Rangno and Hobbs 2005, Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc.).

Some of the biggest rain drops ever measured (5-10 mm in diameter!) were in clouds in the Hawaiian Islands whose tops that had not reached the freezing level–see Bob Rauber’s 1992 paper in J. Atmos. Sci.,  with Ken Beard, the latter who tried to get rid of intercollegiate athletics at UCLA when he was there in the turbulent late ’60s, as did the present writer at San Jose State (a story for another day).  But then,  BOTH me and Ken went on to become science weathermen, not the radical kind of Weatherman, i. e., those under Bernadine and Bill, because we left our radical roots and reggae back behind in the ‘1960s, 70s, and/or 80s (well, maybe not reggae…)

Good muddy morning, Mr. and Mrs. Catalina!

Well, it finally happened, we got shafted royally (as CM likes to say, referring to getting rain shafted) yesterday afternoon with a badly needed 1.09 inches here in Sutherland Heights.  More than 2 inches fell nearby, too, such as near the intersection of Hwy 77 and 79!  The highlight of the storm was, of course, all of those several close lightning strikes between 2 and 3 PM yesterday.  If you weren’t out watching them, here’s one for you, one that popped Lago del Oro.   (Mr. Cloud Maven person reminds his reader that during lightning, do not stand outside by a tree outside as here.  Hmmmph, a new thought….  Maybe that’s where the expression, “Death warmed over” comes from, a person unlucky enough to have been struck by lightning…and then somebody finds him right away!

2:06 PM.
2:06 PM.  Looking northwest; a literal highlight of the day.
6:17 AM.  The remarkable site of a Sc lenticularis stack over Catalina due to strong easterly winds up there.  This is more like a scene from the front range of the Rockies in wintertime.  It hovered up there in place for a couple of hours before withering.
6:17 AM. The remarkable site of a Sc lenticularis stack over Catalina due to strong easterly winds up there. This is more like a scene from the front range of the Rockies in wintertime. It hovered up there in place for a couple of hours before withering. One almost started looking for infamous “rotor cloud”, filled with severe turbulence.  You can see this remarkable cloud for summer and the things it did, courtesy of the U of AZ time lapse film for yesterday, a real keeper!  Still have that lenticular cloud over and downwind of Ms. Lemmon today.  Interesting.
6:23 AM.  After a few drops, a little rainbow was seen off to the NW.  Quite nice.
6:23 AM. After a few drops, a little rainbow was seen off to the NW. Quite nice.
7:56 AM.  Of concern after awhile is whether we might have a gloomy, but dry Seattle-style day, or maybe light steady rains as a disturbance moved toward us, or would that disturbance be potent enough to generate deep storms sans heating?  For those who live here in the summer, we know that the sun is potent enought, even with dense clouds, especially ones that are NOT compose of ice crystals, the vaporize pretty heavy overcasts.  This would be a good thing, because a little heating goes a long way when you have deep, and low based moisture as we had yesterday.  The clouds shown here are composed of droplets, not ice crystals, but, of course, I have just now insulted your Cloud Maven Junior intelligence because you can see the sharpness of the cloud features, and more importantly there is no virga, a site that would mean there was ice inside the clouds, ice that would grow into major snowflakes, melt and fall out as rain.  So, there is hope here, to continue this novella, for a "burn off" in spite of the heavy, and dark looking clouds because its early in the morning still and they probably have higher concentrations of droplets in them and that in turn cause more of the sun's light to be reflected off'n the top.
7:56 AM. (Caution-long, sleep-inducing caption ahead.  If you’re driving you’ll want to pull off the road.)  Of concern after awhile is whether we might have a gloomy, but dry Seattle-type spring day, or maybe only light steady rains amounting to only a few hundredths or tenths as a disturbance moved toward us.   Or,  would that disturbance be potent enough to generate deep storms sans heating? For those who live here in the summer, we know that the sun is potent enough, even with dense clouds, especially ones that are NOT composed of ice crystals, to vaporize pretty heavy overcasts. This would be a good thing, because a little heating goes a long way when you have deep, and low based moisture as we had yesterday. Doesn’t have to get that hot.  The clouds shown here are composed of droplets, not ice crystals, but, of course, I have just now insulted your Cloud Maven Junior cloud intelligence because you can see the sharpness and detail of the tiniest cloud features; they are not “blurry-looking as ice clouds would be, and more importantly there is no virga, a site that would mean there was ice inside the clouds, ice that would grow into major snowflakes, melt and fall out as rain. So, there is hope here in this sighting of droplet clouds, to continue this novella, for a “burn off” in spite of the heavy, and dark looking clouds because its early in the morning still and they probably have higher concentrations of droplets in them and that in turn cause more of the sun’s light to be reflected off’n the top, and that’s why they look so dark, a darkness that has been enhanced that bit by a little trick of photography called, “underexposing.” Oh, the cloud type?  Stratocumulus stratiformis (the second descriptor because there’s so much of it.)

 

9:46 AM.  Within only an hour or two, the thought of a heavily overcast all day could be jettisoned as the normal mid-morning to mid-day thinning occurred.  But, now, would the storms be clustered enough to hit Catalina, or would they end up being too scattered as in the day before where big dumps missed us?  It was, however, now in the bag, that huge clouds would rise up later in the day due to some heating.
9:46 AM. Within only an hour or two, the thought of a heavily overcast all day could be jettisoned as the normal mid-morning to mid-day thinning occurred. But, now, would the storms be clustered enough to hit Catalina, or would they end up being too scattered as in the day before where big dumps missed us? It was, however, now in the bag, that huge clouds would rise up later in the day due to some heating. Note Ac lenticular slivers.
1:47 PM.  While doubts arose as the sky filled in again with dark, lackluster Cumulus and Stratocumulus clouds over Catalina, powerful storms were ripping across Tucson and points S leading one to believe that there was a chance these clouds would pile higher until reaching the ice-forming level in spite of moderate temperatures.  Sure enough, one of the Great Moments in clouddom, is catching those first strands of rain.graupel that fall from such a cloud.  Really, its like seeing a marbled murrelet streaking in from the coast in a redwood forest, its that rare (see Rare Bird, Marie Mudd Ruth, award winning author, in keeping with a mud theme here today.
1:47 PM. While doubts arose as the sky filled in again with dark, lackluster Cumulus and Stratocumulus clouds over Catalina, powerful storms were ripping across Tucson and points S leading one to believe that there was a chance these clouds would pile higher until reaching the ice-forming level in spite of moderate temperatures. Sure enough, one of the Great Moments in clouddom, is catching those first strands of rain/graupel that fall from such a cloud, as here. Really, its like seeing a marbled murrelet streaking in from the coast whilst in a redwood forest, its that rare (see Rare Bird, Marie Mudd Ruth, award winning  author and friend who likes clouds a lot, in keeping with a “mud” theme here today.  Remember, too, you only got a couple of minutes to catch this stage as the large drops and soft  fall out at about 15-20 mph.
1:59 PM.  Moving rapidly westward, unloads west of Saddlebrooke.  Worried here, since it missed.
1:59 PM. Moving rapidly westward, unloads west of Saddlebrooke. Worried here since it missed.
2:00 PM.  More rain and thunder appeared upwind on the Catalinas leading to renewed hope.  In fact, the whole sky at this point seemed to be turning into one huge Cumulonimbus. It was great!
2:00 PM. More rain and thunder appeared upwind on the Catalinas leading to renewed hope. In fact, the whole sky at this point seemed to be turning into one huge Cumulonimbus. It was great!

 

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3:27 PM. An inch had fallen and it looked like we were going have a lake side property. Next time will get kayak out! Sometimes toads erupt from the earth when this happens, but I guess they like it darker than this.

 

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4:01 PM. One of the prettiest sites after our major rains is this line of Stratus fractus clouds that cuddle up against Samaniego Ridge. Yesterday was no exception, and it was another memorable site of the day.

 

The weather ahead

Well, drying. Unfortunately we’re in for another long dry spell likely beginning after today. Hoping we can squeeze out one more day with rain this afternoon. Today’s storms will move from an unusual summertime direction from the south-southwest and southwest, so you;ll want to be watching toward the Tucson Mountains to Twin Peaks for stuff that might come in in the afternoon, more of a fall pattern as the winds are shifting aloft today to from the SW. The Catalinas get active with Cu and Cumulonimbus piling up by late morning, but they drift toward the north and not over us as they did yesterday, all this from the U of AZ model run from 11 PM AST last night.

 

Thundering herd roars down from the Catalinas; more thunder expected

A rare day for Catalinians:  five thundering cells drifted off Ms. Mt. Lemmon and its environs and over Catalina and Oro Valley yesterday providing lots of local excitement.  The Sutherland Heights district got 0.46 inches, and early on, was leading Mt. Lemmon and the Samaniego Peak gauges because the cells did not drop their loads until over the foothills and the Valley.  Below, the exciting day reprised:

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12:52. Cloud street drifts off the Catalinas over Catalina.  Because the Cumulus clouds didn’t seem to be going anywhere, were so modest  in the afternoon, rather than thundering before noon, I was kind of sad, disappointed.
1:46 PM.
1:46 PM.  But, then when suddenly those clouds began erupting upward, reaching the ice-forming level, and rain falling out, I was so happy.  Started raining on me a few minutes after this shot.  You can see the slight initial rainshaft to the right of center on the foothills of the Catalina Mountains.
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1:51 PM. Rain approaches Sutherland Heights/Catalina from the east. The little guys up there began to thunder as well. Several cloud to ground strikes in that area you see in the photo! Amazing how small a lightning producing cloud can be here sometimes.  However, “thunder1” only dropped 0.06 inches here; more fell a little south.  Still, it was so great to see measurable rain fall!

 

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2:11 PM. Remarkably, and hopefully, after thunder1 went by, it looked like another cell might drift off the Catalinas into Catalina soon afterward!

 

2:25 PM.  Thunder2 underway toward the Gap.
2:25 PM. Thunder2 underway on Sam Ridge.  Samaniego Peak recorded 0.94 inches yesterday.  More cloud to ground strikes here, some rather distant, a mile or two,  from this shaft, so watch it when you’re watching it.  (Professional viewer;  do not attempt.)

 

3:58 PM.  Thunder3 rolls off the Catalinas!  This was much larger than Thunder1 and 21, and drenched the south side of Catalina, and into Oro Valley with rains of around half an inch.  The lightning was awesome.
3:58 PM. Thunder3 rolls off the Catalinas! This was much larger than Thunder1 and 21, and drenched the south side of Catalina, and into Oro Valley with rains of around half an inch. The lightning was awesome.
4:02 PM, just FOUR minutes later!  Thunder3 in full dump mode.
4:02 PM, just FOUR minutes later! Thunder3 in full dump mode, lightning galore!
4:14 PM.  Small crowd of lightning viewers.  One is using the cushion technique of blocking lightning.  It is NOT effective; this is an urban legend.
4:14 PM. Small crowd of local lightning viewers. On the left, a viewer is using the “cushion technique” to block lightning. It is NOT effective; this is an urban legend.  This cannot be emphasized enough.

 

5:10 PM.  A remarkable Thunder4 formed on the Catalinas and headed toward Catalina!  I could not believe it!
5:10 PM. A remarkable Thunder4 formed on the Catalinas and headed toward Catalina! I could not believe it!

 

6:07 PM.  If there was a downside to the rain, it was that dusty floodwaters (a great name for a western singer, BTW) began to impact dirt roads.
6:07 PM. If there was a downside to the rain, it was that dusty floodwaters (another great name for a western singer) began to impact dirt roads. Note sign at right…

 

7:29 PM.  The day ended with a great rosy glow (another great name for a singer!) on the northwestern horizon, but it wasn't the end of the thundering herd, was it?  Nope.

7:29 PM. The day ended with a great rosy glow (another great name for a singer!) on the northwestern horizon, but it wasn’t the end of the thundering herd, was it? Nope. FQT LTG was only an hour or so away.  Now that was really was amazing, that Thunder5,  developing near and rolling off the Cat Mountains early last evening.  What a great day it was after appearing to be a disappointing one during the late morning and early afternoon.  To reprise the whole day:  see movie.

 

Well, C-M person has told enough stories about past weather for today, so shutting down here at 4:42 AM.  Dewpoints are still very high, mods expecting more thundering herds in the Catalina/Oro Valley area today.

Have camera ready for some great shaft shots, those black, straight sided ones that go all the way to the ground. If you can, try to get the shot just before the bottom drops out; the two make a great, dramatic couplet for friends and family to enjoy I find.

Farther ahead…..

A disturbing, possibly week long dry spell has been showing up in the models, beginning the 17th, lasting through the 25th or so.  Has to do with a giant summertime upper level trough set to bring those record low temps to the upper Midwest beginning in the next few days.  The NW flow on the backside of this  trough is foretold to extend into Arizona, thus, drying things out and pushing the tropical air southward.  May see some hot days and only small Cu and maybe very isolated, distant Cumulonimbus clouds during that time.  Ugh.

 

On the bright side, spaghetti says, and with a lot of confidence,  that the dry spell will be eroded and the normal wetness will return after the 25th or so.  I think you can see that here, now that you’re an expert spaghetti consumer:

NOAA "spaghetti" plot, valid for 1700 AST, July 26th.  Looks great for storms!
NOAA “spaghetti” plot, valid for 1700 AST, July 26th. Looks great for storms!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The End.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stormy weather; 0.42 inches so far

Three thunderstorms with rain here, one overnight, have dumped 0.42 inches here in SH (Sutherland Heights)  More is virtually certain.  1.18 inches fell at Horseshoe Bend Road in Saddlebrooke.  More reports here and here and here and here, to name a few.  Can’t wait for daylight to see how the desert looks.

What an interesting day, beginning with the odd scene of an Altocumulus lenticularis overhead, telling us the wind was substantial and from the east or southeast.  Usually you see this cloud in the cool half of the year on the other side of the Catalinas, but there it was, filled with mystery and lightning!

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6:21 AM. Kind of a Ac lenticularis overhead, due to east to southeast winds over the Cat Mountains. What would those winds mean? Forming side of cloud is at the bottom of the photo, bright white area, or toward the east.. After all, that puts us in the downwind/downslope side of the moiuntains. Could showers still develop over the Catalinas and drift toward us without falling apart as they often due?  Yes.
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12:54 PM. After a grueling drive deep into Tucson, I came home to Catland to find pounding rain, both along Oracle Road at Rancho, and here on ET (Equestrian Trail). Drops, though falling from about 10, 000 feet above us were pretty huge, as you can see. Note, another photo in the collection, “Not taken while driving”, Price, $1,200.  The tilt lends an aire of excitement, perhaps danger.

!

1:54 PM.  From the cloud bottoms collection, this.  Just about everyone fulfilled its promise by having a
1:54 PM. From the cloud bottoms collection, a photopgraphic niche of mine, this overhead view just before Saddlebrooke got dumped on. Just about every wide cloud bottom fulfilled its promise by releasing rain yesterday, even some pretty small ones. I thought this shot was exceptional. Price, $1,500.  Would look great on somebody’s wall;  great texture!

 

2:03 PM.  Drops away!
2:03 PM. Drops away!

 

2:06 PM, just three minutes later!  Saddlebrooke about to be pounded.  Look for golf balls in the CDO.
2:06 PM, just three minutes later! Saddlebrooke about to be pounded. Look for golf balls in the CDO.

 

6:06 PM.  Then after a long break in the action, kind of like halftime at a fubball game, those magnificent Cumulus began to reform, climb up once again to levels where they could form ice and rain.  I thought this sight was reel perty.  Took many photos of the same thing, that's the way it is with photographers.
6:06 PM. Then after a long break in the action, kind of like halftime at a fubball game, those magnificent Cumulus began to reform, climb up once again to levels where they could form ice and rain. I thought this sight was reel perty. Took many photos of the same thing, that’s the way it is with photographers.

“Little Swirl”, a cyclonic eddy really, but could be somebody’s name, too,   to SE moving NW and over us this morning:  Look here.  Will help keep showers going today, but also check with the real experts.  Must quit here as time expires for big bandwidth flow.

 

Mediocre clouds followed by a brilliant sunset

In case you missed it, this eye-candy from last evening as a crepuscular ray highlight some lower Altocumulus below the main layer:

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6:40 PM. Lower patch of Altocumulus is under lit by a ray of sunlight. Higher layer would be termed Altocumulus opacus. This was quite a dramatic scene and had to sprint up a hill from a neighbor’s place to get this and the next shot.
6:42 PM. Was gasping after sprinting up hill in an obsessive-compulsive pulse to get this shot. But it was worth it.

 

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11:19 AM. Small Cumulus were erupting nicely over Mt. Lemmon and the Catalinas, but oddly, due to the southeasterly winds aloft, they were larger in an extended cloud “street” downwind. See next shot taken at the same time.
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11:19 AM. That cloud street went for miles!

Now, for the rest of the day.  The Cumulus clouds with tops flattening into Stratocumulus were a bit disappointing, their tops, in a few places,  did reach the level where ice would form in them and virga and a few light rainshowers fell out.  Remember, gotta have ice to have precip is Arizona, mostly.

1:21 PM.  Larger patch of Cumulus, spreading out due to a "stable layer" has reached upward to begin forming some ice.  That fallout of ice is causing the base to look a little too smooth.  If you can detect this, you have reached the pinnacle of cloud maven-ness.
1:21 PM. Larger patch of Cumulus, spreading out due to a “stable layer” has reached upward to begin forming some ice. That fallout of ice is causing the base to look a little too smooth. If you can detect this, you have reached the pinnacle of cloud maven-ness.  Its just beginning to come out, very hard to detect at this point, more obvious in minutes.  Even I wasn’t sure at this point, but hedged an opinion about it to myself.

 

1:42 PM.  Same patch trailing ice, though not much.  Still a difficult proposition to see it.
1:42 PM. Same patch trailing ice, though barely. Still a difficult proposition to see it.  Its just SLIGHTLY frizzy/fuzzy at the bottom, a look due to low concentrations of single crystals and a few snowflakes.
2:08 PM.  Now the presence of ice is obvious.  You have a wonderful itty-bitty rain shaft reaching the ground, and an ice veil around the edges of this cloud.  Even a little baby could see that there was ice now.
2:08 PM. Now the presence of ice is obvious. You have a wonderful itty-bitty rain shaft reaching the ground, and an ice veil around the edges (upper left)  of this cloud. Even a little baby could see that there was ice now.  But as little and as long as it took to form and fallout, you would guess that the top was marginally cold for ice formation, a superb scenario for research aircraft.  From last evening’s TUS sounding, looks like they were barely ascending past the  -10 C  (14 F) level, maybe to -12 C to -13 C here in those tops that overshot a little inversion at -8 C.  Those flat-topped Altocumulus clouds that rolled in during the evening as the sun set had tops around -8 C, just a little too warm for ice to form in them.
3:27 PM.  But that TUS sounding was not indicative of the air just a 100 or so miles south of us where large and deep Cumulonimbus arose.  Can you see a Cb calvus top in this photo?  It was pretty exciting to think that air capable of producing large storms was so close after it looked for awhile like a longish dry spell.  The moisture was returning faster than models foretold a few days ago.
3:27 PM. But that TUS sounding was not indicative of the air just a 100 or so miles south of us where large and deep Cumulonimbus arose. Can you see a Cb calvus top in this photo? It was pretty exciting to think that air capable of producing large storms was so close after it looked for awhile like a longish dry spell. The moisture was returning faster than models foretold a few days ago.
3:26 PM.
3:27 PM Zoomed view of distant Cumulonimbus calvus top, far easier to see without the smog of the day before!

Today, the inversion is gone, and dewpoints are increasing all over southern Arizona as we start into a real tropical push. So chances of rain here in Catalina are zooming upward.  Should be some nice “Cbs” around.

Tropical storm Lorena is headed toward the tip of Baja and its remnants will come into southern California and Arizona over the next few days.  Hang on for some potential mighty rains, something to bring our summer rain season totals to more respectable levels here in Catalina.  Very excited, as are all local weather folk!

Also, no end to summer rain season yet appearing in mod run extending out for two weeks (from last evening’s global data crunch).  Still seems to hang on, for the most part, through the 20th of September.   Excellent.

Green of the 2013 below normal rainfall summer in Catalina, plus the usual glut of interesting cloud photos

Trying to adjust “working” schedule to accomodate exede.com data choke hold after 5 AM…

Here in the “The Heights” we’ve only had about 4 inches of rain so far in July and August, compared to a normal of about 7 inches.  Still the recent five days in a row of measurable rain have brought life and flying ant swarms back to the desert.  Great to see, well, maybe not all of it. From yesterday morning these shots:

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7:37 AM.  Grasses are rebounding as they can in the free range lands.
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Height of desert grasses where no cattle can go.  Camera hog horse, takes a munching break to insure it gets a face shot.
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8:10 AM near the Sutherland Wash. Doesn’t compare to last year’s growth with nearly 8 inches of July August rain, still, it was nice to see.
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8:29 AM. Riparian scene at the Big Rock tributary to the Sutherland Wash. There was no water, though.
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1:26 PM. Early afternoon downspout mostly N of Saddlebrooke. Another great sight. There were numerous ones around, but as this summer has gone, none blasted “The Heights.” Only a trace of rain was recorded.
2:09 PM.  Photo of shaft with some ill advised advice written on it.
2:09 PM. Photo of shaft with some ill advised advice written on it along with an arrow.
3:07 PM.  There were several nice deluges on the Catalinas yesterday.  (Can a deluge be nice?).  Anyway, this one looks to have inflated the water in the Romero Falls area.
3:07 PM. There were several nice deluges on the Catalinas yesterday. (Can a deluge be nice?). Anyway, this one looks to have inflated the water in the Romero Falls area.
4:12 PM.  What was especially great about yesterday was that the showers re-building over the mountains.  Here, in the same exact spot as the one an hour earlier except the next ridge over, a new shower has formed.
4:12 PM. What was especially great about yesterday was that the showers re-building over the mountains. Here, in the same exact spot as the one an hour earlier, a new shower has formed. It was a day that just wouldn’t quit.  As darkness fell, still another complex with vivid lightning moved over the same area.
4:23 PM.  Marana storm trudges westward to bombard Dove Mountain area.
4:23 PM. Marana storm trudges westward to bombard Dove Mountain area.
5:31 PM.  In spite of all the cool air around, another complex of thunderheads appears to the ESE in the upwind direction.  It just kept giving yesterday.
5:31 PM. In spite of all the cool air around at this time, the many showers, another complex of thunderheads boils up to the ESE in the upwind direction. It just kept giving yesterday. This is the one that about an hour later produced the vivid lightning, with most of the rain falling again toward Catalina State Park.  Shaft pretty much obscured lights down that way when it rolled in.

The End, except it looks a little drier today, but then, it was supposed to be a little drier yesterday, and really wasn’t.

Big thunderblast down Oracle, Pusch Ridge way; a personal report

Couldn’t be on “the perch” for that rain here in SH-Catalina late yesterday afternoon (0.14 inches) due to a social engagement, but, serendipitously drove under the 1-2 inch blast of rain, lightning, and 60 mph winds that deluged Oracle Road at Magee and points south.   1.7 inches was measured in 37 minutes at the Ina Road and CDO Wash!  You can find more regional totals here. Arrived in that zone  just as the bottom unloaded, the most exciting place you can be, as you and storm chasers know, of course.  Restaurant, at Ina and Oracle, took quite a bit of water, too

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4:43 PM. Updraft holding the flood aloft giving out, first in that brighter spot in the center. In only a few minutes, everything was “fogged out” in torrential , sideways-blowing rain, and vicious cloud-to-ground strikes, as I knew it would be, and you, too,  within minutes looking at this cloud base.  This is the kind of storm we get here that gets your attention, gets you off the couch and over to the window, if it hasn’t blown in yet.
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4:50 PM. Not even sure this was the worst of it, but it was reel bad here on Oracle near Magee. Wasn’t very imaginative, just repeating over and over, “This is amazing!”

 

4:37 PM.  Gorgeous shafts of rain obscure the Catalina Mountains by Catalina State Park, Romero Falls.
4:37 PM. Gorgeous shafts of rain obscure parts of the Catalina Mountains next to Catalina State Park, Romero Falls area.  Had to pull off and get SOMETHING of this sight.  Didn’t see a flow in the CDO later though1. (Mini-harangue down below, way down, about walls.

You can see this stupendous sequence, too, from the U of AZ campus here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A U of AZ mod from 11 PM last night foretells another active rain day today.  This is great.  Weeds getting crispy, as seen on yesterday’s horseback ride.    Maybe some will get rejuvenated. Expert takes on mods will come out later by Bob and Mike, of course.  The scene at White Dog Ranch, by the CDO wash and Lago del Oro as of yesterday:DSCN5341

But also saw some wildlfower stragglers

7:58 AM.  Still some of these around, as well as some kind of yellow flowers, too, hangers on through the recent dry conditions.
7:58 AM. Still some of these around, as well as some kind of yellow flowers, too;  hangers on through the recent dry conditions.

And, to finish off here, the early signs of a likely good day ahead, Cu sprouting above Ms. Lemmon by mid morning, tops reaching “glaciation temperatures” not much later, and, of course, “thunder on the Lemmon before 1 PM.” Like all “signs”, there are exceptions but they usually work out, like yesterday’s downpours.

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10:27 AM. A good sign for an active day, Cumulus beginning to form by mid-morning. Means the amount of moisture is pretty good, the shallow thermals rising off the mountains don’t have to go very far. Also, whitish haze implies high humidity (not pretty, though) because aerosols usually contain particles that respond to humidity and swell up (deliquesce), causing the sun’s light to be more scattered than small, dry particles would do. Big problem back East where sometimes there is no blue sky on the most humid days, just this white murk. Just awful because you can’t even see the clouds around you.
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11:12 AM. At left, a not very tall turret has left an icy residue, the whitish blur. You would have been getting happier seeing this happen, since things will only get bigger and better as the day wears on. Also, was musing about, “Could this be more ‘ice multiplication'”?, that phenomenon we who study clouds call those that have “too many” crystals for the temperature at the top. Recall that back in the 1950s and 1960s for the most part, scientists thought it took a cloud top temperature lower than -20 C (-4 F) (!) to produce many ice crystals due to cloud chamber measurements on the ground in which there were no, or very few crystals that formed at those cloud chamber temperatures. But, voila, when scientists flew airplanes into clouds looking for ice, they found Ma Nature forming a lot of ice at cloud top temperatures higher than -10 C (14 F) in many cases! This “discrepancy” has not been completely explained even today, and is STILL the focus of airborne research.  Amazing.
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12:49 PM. First thunder on the Lemmon was about now. Excellent!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The End.

 

 

 

 

——————-

1The CDO wash is no longer visible at Oracle on the east side, thanks to an unnecessary, unbelievable 400 feet of sound wall monstrosity,  extended past the neighborhood (Ramsfield Pass) it was supposed to shelter from a few extra decibels.  One Catalina neighbor described it as only slightly better looking than the Berlin Wall.  Our tax dollars at work, I guess, in some bizarre way.  The wash did NOT need to be protected from a few decibals, and I miss seeing in as we used to!

Bringing down the curtains, everywhere but not here

It was great to see a huge Cumulonimbus squatting on Ms. Mt. Lemmon yesterday just after noon, then hours of intermittent thunder as new clouds piled high into the troposphere around it.  One site, White Tail by Catalina Highway up there, got almost two inches in just an hour!  So, the atmosphere was quite juicy yesterday.

Still, to see all those pretty curtains, rain ones, dropping down around us as new Cumulus powered up into Cumulonimbus clouds, many such events due to Cumulus spawned by outflow winds from the Lemmon dumps,  was visually nice, but “unsatisfying” because none landed on me.

Too, we need to catch up to our nearly 7-inch normal July-August rain from the half that we have now, and we came up with only a trace here in the Sutherland district.

BTW, under “advanced observation taking”, you would have logged the first drops from the anvil overhang of the “storm on the Lemmon” at 1:51 PM. Well, maybe not exactly that minute at YOUR house, but I nailed it!  Had to be outside though, and wait around for those drops, since it was not clear drops would even make it to the ground from what was over me.  The wait was worth it.

Of course, those early storms, rising off the Catalina peaks,  usually don’t make it here off the mountains early on with anything but sprinkles.  Only later in the day, when we’ve been baked some more, do those giants start making their way on to the lower elevations, and yesterday they did.

Here is your cloud photo diary for yesterday, beginning with your precursors for a good cloud day:

10:51 AM.  RIght here you should have been thinking, "Man, this could be a fantastic rain day!" Look at how thin and tall this cloud got, and it happened soon after the first scruff formed *Cu fractus).
10:51 AM. RIght here you should have been thinking, “Man, this could be a fantastic rain day!” Look at how thin and tall this cloud got, and it happened soon after the first scruff formed  (Cu fractus).

 

11:14 AM, the above cloud devolving into a reminder of atomic testing back in the 1950s, "nuclear winter" scenarios in the 1980s.
11:14 AM, the prior cloud devolving into a reminder, with its narrow stem,  of atomic testing back in the 1950s1 see historical note, “nuclear winter” scenarios in the 1980s. a way of defeating global warming…..(gallows humor).  The flattening of the cloud at top indicates that there was a temperature barrier that still needed to be punched through as the day warmed.
12:28 PM.  Minimal lid capping prior cloud punched through as day warmed--see protruding top; thunder began at this time.  I probably did not need to tell you that.  Sorry.
12:28 PM. Minimal lid capping prior cloud punched through as day warmed–see protruding top; thunder began at this time. I probably did not need to tell you that. Sorry.
2:20 PM. Pretty curtains just after drenching Pusch Ridge, drift S to deluge TUS--see papers today.
2:20 PM. Pretty curtains, just after drenching Pusch Ridge, drift S to deluge TUS–see today’s AZ Star.  It is truly remarkable how much rain can fall from these clouds! Note the stranding here, detailing differences in the cloud’s structure above, generally associated with hail and graupel up there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s clouds and weather?

You know the drill.  Early cloud conditions (due to Altocumulus opacus), followed by a slow burn off, then the rise of the Cumulus clouds.  U of AZ mod expects a very active day today, so maybe the curtain will come down on Catalina this afternoon.

Farther out:  “tropical river” still floods SE Cal and western AZ, as we remain on the edge, getting something but not the full force as those areas will.  Remnant center passes over Yuma Sunday AM.  Might be worth a trip.  Hell, they could get their annual precip in 12 h, something to write to the family about if you’re there.

——————
1 Historical note re “atomic testing”:  It was a common perception in those days of atomic testing, generally scientists believed,  by naive, uninformed peoples, that the explosions were changing the weather.  So, when anything weird in weather happened, some would point to “atomic testing”, kind of like some scientists do with global warming and weird weather today. (“Real scientists” are more cautious about attributing a storm or other singular event to GW.)

The US Weather Bureau (ATOMIC EXPLOSIONS AND WEATHER USWB) and the US government went to great lengths to explain to these people why atomic testing could not have changed the weather; it was too small an event to have changed the weather.

In fact, with the rise of Chaos Theory, where it is deemed by some scientists2 that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil might have something to do with a tornado in Texas, of COURSE, atomic testing changed the friggin’ weather!    We just don’t know how and where…

Also, it is normal and proper for scientists to correct, enhance, or reject prior theories as new facts come in.  “Hey” think about how embarrassed the cosmologists were back in the 1990s or so when they discovered they had the friggin’ sign of the “Cosmic Constant” wrong.  The Universe was expanding, ever more rapidly, not collapsing.  Then, and this is really funny, they made up some magic called, “Dark Energy” to explain that inexplicable new finding!  But, as the ideals of science demand,  they did change their minds and theories!  Not sure that happens so easily today in some domains I could think of.

2Nick, research faculty, U of WA, private communication, as seen in the Seattle Times.

Drama queens

Quite  happy early on yesterday with Cu sprouting upward rapidly in the mid-morning,  then it ended up being a sad day for us yesterday with only a trace.  It appeared, with the early generation of towering Cumulus over the Cat Mountains, then thunder just before noon, that we were going to have a good chance of a big dump, a land-filling rainstorm, to make a play on the word “dump.”

But no.

——–

Next, in a continuation of negative thoughts, I propose a spending cap on college athletics.  Here’s why from the NYT, no less1.   In the short of it: the Duck has more money to spend than the Dawg, and, as a former employee of the University of Washington, I am upset.  Yes  I am THAT great a former employee.  Even when working at the U of WA full time, I advertised the company teams AFTER working hours by wearing this and that with Dawg logos, that’s how good an employee I was.

But Oregon has crossed the line; its got to stop.  Think of the poor AZ Wildcats, too, if you’re so inclined.  The only worse thing that could happen is for the University of Phoenix, with all their money, to start a football program and join the Pac 12 after the WAZU Cougars drop out because they are so bad.  (The Cougars ARE really bad, to get an in-state rival Dawg dig in.  hahahaha, Cougs.

———-

Now, some clouds, real drama queens, but still pretty darn photogenic:

11:25 AM.  Cu pile up beyond the Gap.
11:25 AM. Cu pile up nicely beyond the Gap.  Note pileus clouds atop Cu left and distant right, a sign of good updrafts.  I like pileus clouds.
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11:36 AM. While these two Cumulus clouds became marshmallows, the first ice (fibrous area, upper left) begins to show.

 

 

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11:49 AM. Rain shaft begins to show, first thunder a few minutes later.

 

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1:55 PM. With flow from the south, I was ecstatic at this point. Why? The big rain shaft to the south. Oh, no, too late for that one to be anything when it gets here. But, those Cu building over Pusch Ridge, they’re what needed to fire up and keep this complex going, and they are looking GREAT at this point, no doubt pushed up by the outflow winds of the rain just behind them. But it gets better….

 

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2:18 PM. Heading upward into euphoria from ecstaticness (is that a word?) here as Cu congestus bases enlarge, don’t seem to have weak points in the center suggesting irregular updrafts. Its going to rain from them soon, no doubt it. And it did. But….not that much.  Rain shaft behind and to the right, already thinning at this time.

So with all the drama shown above, here’s what ensued from that great looking base, demonstrating that you can only be “mostly be sure, but not all sure”, to paraphrase a Billy Crystal line in “The Princess Bride.”

3:02 PM.  The pitiful rain shaft on Samaniego Ridge that eventually emitted from that great looking base.  Little baby rain was falling here at the time.  Traced is all.
3:02 PM. The pitiful “rain shaft”, if I may so elevate such light rain,  on Samaniego Ridge, the outpouring of precip  that eventuated from that great looking base. Little baby rain was falling here at the time. Traced is all it did.

 

What happened?  The intensity of the shaft tells you how high the tops of those really dark bases got, and in this case, probably they probably got no higher than the marshmallow clouds shown above with their equally weak shafts.  Not much rain, either, in the Catalinas.

Why didn’t the tops get higher?

The outflow shove wasn’t enough to jack them up, the air just a bit too cool feeding into the bases, weakening outflow winds.  You can make up a lot of stuff.  But, darn, it looked SO GOOD there for a moment.

Today?  Well, the same scenario replayed over and over again it seems.  Likely Cu building on the Cat Mountains again, probably not as early a start as yesterday–TUS sounding’s a little drier.  I should see what Bob sez, since he really knows stuff.

——————-

1 Sent to me by a science prize-winning friend2 with whom I shared Husky season ticks with.  It was interesting since I got a minimal science prize of sorts, too.  The headline:  “Prize-winning meteorologists attend college football games together.”  Kind of an unexpected scenario I would think.

2 Got his prize, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and congratulations from Al Gore at the White House back in ’00 or so.  (Can you put a footnote in a footnote?)

Early thunder on the Lemmon; later, but earlier, scattered big dumps and another light show

First about the rainfall around Arizona yesterday….

Jack is happy.  Got 1.21 inches yesterday afternoon.  Nice!  No doubt some of our friends, fellow lowlanders, who can’t take Catalina-Sutherland Heights when the temperature rises above 82.5 F unlike you and me, experienced that cloud downspout that occurred at to Happy Jack Ranger Station in Pine, AZ, at almost 8,000 feet elevation.

For additional rainfall reports beyond those provided at “Happy Jack”, of course, we have to go to about 3 dozen other places because no one has managed to cull ALL of the rainfall reports we get into ONE daily list.  Well, maybe the NSA has them all…  Here are a few more links to rainfall data:

USGS ones, where Happy Jack lives

Pima County Alert gauges

Rainlog.org

CoCoRahs (not a milk flavoring-hahahaha; I just kind of thought of that as I was writing it; creativity is indeed strange, as am I)

NWS Regional and State summaries

Not to mention the many “school net” and TEEVEE station-established rainfall reporting stations, and those folks who monitor rainfall at home but don’t report it to the rest of us who want to know about it.  Maybe NSA can help out there, too.  Hahahahaha, sort of.  (BTW, I have nothing to hide to whomever is reading this; well, mostly nothing.)

——-EDITORIAL OUTBURST——

How strange it is that we cannot go to ONE friggin’ site and get all of the rain reports for the whole State!  Would it be due to a lack of…….inter agency cooperation and competition, even among non-profit organizations???? (Insert creepy organ music here)

——-END OF EDITORIAL OUTBURST——

Back to rainfall observations…..

Douglas, AZ, if you haven’t heard from your favorite TEEVEE meteorologist who makes a lot of money1, has experienced its wettest June through August  ever, with 13 plus inches, with about two weeks to go!  This is for the purpose of generating a thought about a trip, a weather vacation, for you.   That whole area down there, with its historic heavy rains this summer MUST be seen!  Your weather diary will be sadly lacking without some notes about the vegetation, ponding and stream flows in that area.  Damn well know I’m going again.  There is a treasure of scenes, maybe new lifeforms, down thataway that won’t happen again in our lifetimes.  The specifics below from the NWS:

SXUS75 KTWC 130105
RERTWC
RECORD EVENT REPORT 
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TUCSON AZ
605 PM MST MON AUG 12 2013
...DOUGLAS ARIZONA RECORDS WETTEST METEOROLOGICAL SUMMER ON RECORD...
RAINFALL OVER THIS PAST WEEKEND AT BISBEE-DOUGLAS AIRPORT PUSHED 
THEIR 2013 METEOROLOGICAL SUMMER TOTAL TO 13.23"...WHICH ECLIPSED
THE OLD RECORD OF 13.07" FROM THE SUMMER OF 1964.
METEOROLOGICAL SUMMER IS THE PERIOD FROM JUNE 1 TO AUGUST 31ST.
THE 13.23" IS ALSO THE TOTAL FOR THE 2013 MONSOON. THIS RANKS AS 2ND 
WETTEST MONSOON ON RECORD...STILL WELL BEHIND THE RECORD OF 15.90" 
FROM 1964.
LASTLY...THE 2013 CALENDAR TOTAL OF 14.10" CURRENTLY RANKS AS THE 
19TH WETTEST YEAR ON RECORD.
$$

On to clouds, yesterday’s:

As a CMJ, you should have noticed the harbinger of better things ahead for late yesterday afternoon and evening when we had “thunder on the Lemmon” beginning at 2 PM, about 4-5 hours earlier than the two prior days.  Earlier is better.

Also earlier were the first scruffs of Cumulus clouds forming over the Catalinas, in this case about 2 h ealier than prior days, another “earlier is better” scene for rain here in Catalina-SH.  Here are some scenes; hope you seen’em.  Oh, my, another outburst of creativity.

First, before Cumulus, these “strangers”:

8:11 AM.  Billow clouds, Cirrocumulus undulatus, if you want a tech name.
8:11 AM. Billow clouds, Cirrocumulus undulatus, if you want a tech name.  They weren’t around very long, just a few minutes, hope you scene’em.  Best seen as action figures  in the U of AZ time lapse film for yesterday.

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11:13 AM.  Cloud street streaming off the Lemmon is pretty advanced for this time.  Cloud bases, too, a bit lower than the day before.  Lower is better (for rain amounts).
11:13 AM. Cloud street streaming off the Lemmon is pretty advanced for this time. Cloud bases, too, a bit lower than the day before. Lower is better (for rain amounts).
1:43 PM.  First ice on top of Ms. Mt. Lemmon.  Can you see it?  Answer in next image. I'm trying to learn you up on these things.
1:43 PM. First ice on top of Ms. Mt. Lemmon.   Should be in your diary.  Can you see it? Answer in next image. I’m trying to learn you up on these things…dammitall.  Note lack of a rain shaft at this time
1:43 PM close up of glaciated turret showing above the cloud mass above Lemmon.  There's some writing on it.
1:43 PM close up of glaciated turret showing above the cloud mass above Lemmon. There’s some writing on it.  Thunder b

While this early TSTM fabove aded quickly, dropping only 0.28 inches on Mt. Lemmon, the “Dump of the Day” (say, those within 5 miles of here) erupted suddenly just after 5 PM over and to the south of the Golder Ranch development at the foot of the Catalina Mountains.  The cloud-to-ground strikes came within seconds, not minutes from this dynamo, though like its predecessor, it did not last long.  Still, parts of it moved far enough north to give SH (Sutherland Heights) 0.12 inches.    Here it is:

5:16 PM.  "Dump of the Day", looking toward the Golder Ranch development from the parking lot at the top of Golder Ranch Drive. LTG was too scary to leave car.
5:16 PM. “Dump of the Day”, looking toward the Golder Ranch development from the parking lot at the top of Golder Ranch Drive.  LTG was too scary to leave car.

And, of course, the day finished out with another one of those dramatic sunsets, and the lighting on the clouds at  that time of day that makes us so happy to be here, that we can take temperatures above 82 F without having to depart for higher ground.  Last evening, this beauty:

7:03 PM.  Looking north beyond Saddlebrooke.
7:03 PM. Looking north beyond Saddlebrooke, and along with it, another fabulous evening of lightning.  Doesn’t happen like this as a rule in that colder, high terrain that our “temperature refugees” head for.  Much better down here for evening and nighttime LTG.

 

——————

1I dream about being a TEEVEE weatherman making a LOT of money.  I could then take those weather vacations I’ve dreamed of, never mind the State Department Travel warnings, to Cherrapunji, India, where they once measured over a thousand inches of rain over 12 months; to the Island of La Reunion in the southern Indian Ocean where tropical storms have sat and dropped, and your jaw will also drop, 72 inches of rain in ONE day, and 66 inches in 18 hours in a DIFFERENT storm–before that one let up.