Drought staggering after heavy rain/snow punch, may go down someday; more blows ahead

Any winter storm that drenches the Catalina area, including Saddlebrookians, Oro Valleyians, with more than an inch of rain in 24 h has to be one of the greatest.    Haven’t seen this much winter rain in since the so-called “Frankenstorm” of January 2010 when we got over 2 inches of rain in two days.  Here are the gaudy 24 h totals from the Pima County Flood Control District, ending at 3:34 AM this morning, about 24 h after the rain started Pima rain.  Other interesting rain totals can be found in the network established by the rainlog folks at the U of AZ here.  These totals are a bit smaller than those I culled from the Pima folks since the ob time for the rainlog network is at 7 AM LST, and here, 0.41 inches had fallen in the first few hours yesterday, and then 0.99 inches for the rest of the storm (0.01 inches just now!), for a total of 1.40 inches here in Catalina.  So, the storm totals at rainlog are broken up into two days (the rain pretty much fell in the 18 h from 3 AM yesterday to about 9 Pm last night).  BTW, a nice way to look at the comings and goings of the local rain is via the Weather Underground’s maps with animations of the TUS radar superimposed on a regional map showing our many “personal”  weather stations (e. g., here).  Its interesting that many of you do not have a personal weather station.  Well, the holiday season is here, and the economy can always use some impulsive buying and so maybe now is the time to pick one up before more storms hit.  And they will, as our models continue to show.  BTW2, a rainbow landing on a personal weather station.  Think about it.

In  just 36 h from now another low center barges into Arizona from the NW.  Due to its long overland trajectory, it’s going to be a lot drier than “Frankenstorm Junior”, once again, as another in a winter long series, stagnates in our area as a “cut off” low spinning around flinging rain around its margins for a couple of days (Friday and Saturday mostly).  So with luck, we might pick up another quarter of an inch or so.  Here is a quick look at that whole sequence, and one of the panels below, valid for Friday afternoon at 5 PM LST, for your viewing pleasure.I like this format with the four panels since you got yer upper map in the upper left hand panel showing yer cut off,  and you got yer precip in the lower right hand panel, all  in one jpeg; more cumbersome in the US model presentations I’ve found to have this much info in one jpeg.

So, what about our drought status after all this early winter rain (see below)?

Well, as I have learned from the State Climo office in 2010, not much changes due to a couple of months of wet conditions here, such as we had in 2010 when water was flowing everywhere in southern Arizona later that winter.   Seems for those folks that designate whether an area is in drought, there have to be almost years of wet conditions for the designation of droughty conditions to be removed from their maps.  Its pretty discouraging.  Perhaps it takes wide tree rings to indicate the drought is over (hahahaha, sort of)  ((just kidding!)) (((Really))) ((((Not being sarcastic at all))))

Below is the latest drought map from the Drought Monitors at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as of December 6th, when they last released a map, we here in southern Arizona were still in an “extreme drought” in spite of all the rain in November and early December.  It will be interesting to see how this map changes after our “Frankenstorm Junior” of the past two days, and with all that rain that has, and will be occurring in the droughty areas of NM and TX.   The longer term model forecasts punish (delight?) those areas with widespread heavy rains over the next two weeks.  Will it remove any of the “extreme” and “exceptional” drought designations for them?  Stay tuned.

At LEAST we have avoided the Climate Prediction Center’s fall forecast of intensifying drought here in AZ over the period of November-January.  Seven weeks into that forecast, we have dispelled that notion, anyway.  It ain’t happening.  It would be hard to take another NDJ like that of 2010-2011 when only December had any rain at all!

Well, Mr. Cloud Maven person had better post some CLOUD photos if he is to remain that and stop squawking about drought…

Here are a couple from the
storm.  The Catalina Mountains are so wonderful when draped in precip and snow!  I would like to report that I am very happy living here full time in Catalina.

The End, though the image organization will be a mess for awhile, will “publish” now anyway.

















By Art Rangno

Retiree from a group specializing in airborne measurements of clouds and aerosols at the University of Washington (Cloud and Aerosol Research Group). The projects in which I participated were in many countries; from the Arctic to Brazil, from the Marshall Islands to South Africa.