Sure, there was a little mischievous wind in the early afternoon, BUT, as a day in late May in Catalina/Sutherland Heights zone of Arizona, wherein the temperature is less than 100 F, well, it was pretty darn great. Another one is on tap today just like yesterday today, too. Feeling sad about the early, northerly ejections of “snowbirds” who thought because of the warm winter, May would be an inferno here and are missing some splendid weather. Doesn’t work that way. You just don’t know.
Lot of interesting clouds yesterday, too, real cold ones. Those Cumulus that formed in the late morning and afternoon started producing ice almost immediately. Wonder if you caught the first ones over there beyond the Charouleau Gap around 11 AM? They did not look as high-based as they were, thus, as cold overall, dad-gum, those cloud bottoms were running around -10 C (14 F)!
How high off the Catalina ground were they? Oh, about 13,000 feet, or about 16,000 feet above sea level (about 550 millibars). I woulda guessed, as you would have, about 8,000 feet off the ground when I first saw them forming (and not looking at the temperature and dewpoints, from which you can make a pretty good calculation of the cloud base height). From the Cowboys at the U of Wyoming, this sounding for TUS yesterday afternoon:
Weather Hints for Every Day Use by “Art”: You can calculate the height of a Cumulus cloud base by taking the difference between the temperature and the dewpoint, dividing it by 5, square that number, add the number you started with, and subtract the square root of 2.
DId I get the number you started with?
(Actually, stop at “dividing by 5”, multiply that number by 1000, and you’ll come out just about right. Yesterday, 85 F temp, 20 F dewpoint, leads to 65 F difference, divide by 5, you get 13, and times a thousand is an estimated CUMULUS cloud base of about 13,000 feet above you, not too bad).
Continuing….. Since bases were so cold, tops were exceptionally cold, too, for shallow Cumulus and started producing ice when they were only about 1,000 to 3,000 feet thick, with cloud top temperatures of -15 C to -20 C (about 4 F to -4 F). Some of the highest tops, all east of us, and mostly on the east side of the Catalina Mountains, were likely as cold as -30 C (-22 F).
You can see yesterday’s small Cu spewing ice in the great U of AZ time lapse movie here. Only plays for one day, though.
You may also have noted in your cloud diary the bifurcation in the Cumulus array of yesterday. Almost no Cumulus west of Catalina, and plenty in the east half of the sky, appearing to be largest in the distance in the east. We were literally on the edge of the moist plume from the south that was hoped to end up been west, with us deeply embedded in it, and where measurable rain might have fallen here as it did east of us yesterday. Oh, well.
Today, with a low center passing over us tonight and a blob of Pacific Ocean air in it, and while that air is cold and pretty dry aloft, it will be a little more moist and so cloud bases today should be a little lower, and warmer, than yesterday’s. That means a little more water condensing in them than in yesterday’s clouds, and a greater chance of sprinkle here. Hoping for measurable, but its probably less than a 50-50 shot at that. Likely will be some thunder in the area of SE AZ, too. And, as always with high cloud bases, gusty winds that arise due to virga and rain falling through the dry air below cloud base. (Yesterday afternoon’s gales in the Sutherland Heights, momentary blasts of 40-50 mph, were NOT due to virga, but a rather to something I didn’t see coming, maybe a smallish low center–nothing really showed up on the maps.)
You can see the forecast trajectory of that upper low coming toward us, from the University of Washington’s Huskies, whose #14 softball team plays away, really away, at #1 Florida in Gainesville this weekend–how crummy is that except for the great Cu there and its important enough to be on TEEVEE Saturday?) computer output by clicking on this informative sentence.
You will also see in the above loop that our low takes its time moving along, and will keep the skies interesting with Cumulus and weak Cumulonimbus clouds today and tomorrow, along with temperatures below seasonal norms for late May (aka, less than 100 F) ((Snowbirds left too soon; ice still melting off some areas of the Great Lakes!))
From the cloud vault; yesterday’s clouds
The weather ahead and WAY ahead
Now what I think is really interesting, which is almost everything to do with weather, is that the models are suggesting a tropical injection again at the end of MAY into early June, with a chance of a decent rain again. As you can see in the plot below from the NOAA spaghetti factory, a trough to the west of us and over California is a virtual certainty now at the end of May. That means the air above us will be, while quite warm, originating from the deep Tropics with the likelihood of clouds and precip coming up from there. Nice. Will keep me posted on these developments, in case no one else is reading this far.