So many great clouds; so little camera memory (8 GB not enough for yesterday)

Just about.  Ended up taking more than 300 photos yesterday (!), first 100 plus of the greenery next to the CDO wash (“its a jungle out there”) during a horseback ride, and of those spindily Cumulus clouds that were rising off Ms. Mt. Lemmon so early in the day (and oddly, with a lower, scattered layer of Stratus fractus clouds along the side of Sam Ridge). Those early skinny towers were full of portent about the day ahead, and those lower St fra, told about the unusually high humidity if you didn’t go outside!

A couple of photos from along the CDO wash and an example of those “stalagmite”-like Cumulus:

Along the CDO near Spirit Dog Ranch.
Along the CDO. With the new wetter climate, perhaps new life forms are already arising inside this jungle.
Morning glory blossom along the trail, almost a “Husky purple” I thought as the college football season nears and the summer sports malaise ends (hahahah, sort of).  In that regard, former Washington Husky pitcher, little Timmy Lincecum, SFO Giants, can’t find himself–we thought for a time he would win the prestigious Cy Young Award every year– but has been a real disappointment this season for those of us who used to watch him throw at Husky Ballpark on Friday nights, so who cares about him or baseball anymore?













The spindily early Cumulus

These were an incredible sight on that early morning ride, truly, because of what they suggested for later on.

9:22 AM. Proper cloud maven junior response: Holy Criminy!

You can really get an appreciation for these guys puffing off “Smokestack Lemmon” from the U of AZ time lapse movie, as well as the power that was unleashed in those gorgeous, if volcanic, Cumulonimbus clouds later in the afternoon.  I don’t believe I have seen as strong a convection day as we had yesterday before.

One measure of horrific convection, horrific updrafts in clouds is that little or nothing comes out of them.  These kinds of Cumulonimbus are well known in the Plains States where giant clouds can form spewing anvils out that can cover much of a whole state.  But, then, there is no rainshaft, or its very tiny.

Here’s an example from South Dakota of what is called a weak radar echo, or “echo-free vault” (the Cb seems to be “hollow” with no echo to great heights. sometimes in the middle of it).

The updraft in these severe storms is so strong that almost nothing can fall out, well maybe softball-sized hail; instead the all the water is transported high into the troposphere where only tiny ice crystals form at very low temperatures (liquid drops can be transported to temperatures below -30 C!) in updrafts of 50-60 mph or more in these situations (the measured record is about 100 mph).  When this happens, too many ice crystals form and none can grow large enough to fall out until many minutes later, but then are 40,000 feet and can never reach the ground. That appeared to have happened here yesterday.

The South Dakota Cumulonimbus cloud shown was memorable because, like yesterday’s severe thunderstorm west of Catalina in the late afternoon and evening (shown below in its early stage), there was continuous lightning and thunder from overhead,  high anvil; no cloud-to-ground strokes anywhere nearby in both situations.  Those were likely occurring far off in and near the shafts on the horizons.

Parkston, South Dakota, 1976. This gigantic anvil was rumbling continuously from overhead and to the southwest. Note the tiny rainshaft from the parent Cb on the horizon. Yep, I took this photo WAY back then.  I loved South Dakota…in the summertime!
5:36 PM. By the time of this shot of this vertical giant, toward the Tortolita Mountaintas, had been thundering continuously from the upper half for over half an hour before this tiny rainshaft FINALLY emerged.  It was remarkable, something I had not seen happen here before.  It was a measure of how strong the updrafts were in this cloud and many others yesterday.  Don’t know for sure whether it had an “echo-free vault.”
















Rain amounts

The ALERT precip reports are here.  White Tail, by Palisades Ranger Station on Catalina Highway, got another 1.50 inches yesterday and last night. It received 2.44 inches last Friday, and had another 1.25 inches on Sunday for a few day total over 5 inches now.  Other local data can be found here and here.

Here in Catalina, we only received 0.08 inches, and that from some steady light rain overnight.  Maybe today….


Well, no surprises for any met man, another strong day of convection.  It will be interesting to see if there are more “low echo” Cumulonimbus clouds, ones with lots of high lightning, and a delayed emergence of a shaft, an emergence long after ice has proliferated aloft.

Getting bigger cam memory card….

The End.

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.