I wonder if you caught it? Fell between 8:10 and 8:12 AM. Very isolated, and pretty small drops. If you weren’t driving in it, or outside, you would never have known this happened. But observing and reporting events like this is what makes us who we are, you reader of CM. We take pride in seeing and observing what others don’t.
Before the rain hit, some two or three RW– (weather text version of “very light rainshowers”) began to fall to the SW of us from that deck of Stratocumulus clouds. Must have been where the tops were higher than anywhere else. Here’s the first sign, and upwind of Catalina, that you, as a CMJ (cloud maven junior) know to pull your car out of the garage. (BTW, thinking about having a CMJ cookie drive next month…so look around for your best recipes.)
It may seem strange, a non-sequitor, for those blog passersby to be talking about taking your car out of the garage or carport if a slight amount of rain might occur, as was the case yesterday. Here’s the “skinny”, as we used to say in the last century when we were young and could do things: a “clean” car, one that been wiped of all evidence of prior rain drops, but one having a thin coating of dust (you don’t have to apply a thing dust layer, its goes with the territory here) is great as a “trace detector.” And for us, CMs and CMJs, observing a trace such as yesterdays, when ordinary observers miss it (fumble the ball), is like hitting a low outside slider from former Husky pitcher Tim Lincecum, for a game winning touchdown. Or Boise State beating Oklahoma in a bowl game.
Why not just use the radar instead of parking your car outside and if the 24 h depiction of precip shows an echo over you, just mark yourself down as having a “trace”?
That would be cheating! Besides, some echoes seen on radar are only aloft.
And what if you’re in a “data silent” zone, where the radar beam is blocked by terrain, or is too far away? You’re adding unique information with your trace. Sure, nobody around you really cares if you had a trace or not, but, what the HECK.
Did the tops reach -10 C or so to form ice and cause this shower? Nope. Capped out at 0 to -5 C, so almost impossible to have had ice form to cause our sprinkles. Check this sounding from the WY Cowboys, who are off to a good season BTW.
In examining this TUS sounding closely, its good to remember that we are NOT Tucson, but in Catalina. We are 14 miles from the city limits; have a road sign that sez so. “Hey”, we aren’t even on the same side of the mountains as is “Tucson.” In fact, you have to go through the city limits of Oro Valley to get to Catalina! Only the Post Office thinks that Catalina is in “Tucson.” OK, got that in…
And, during the cooler season when troughs go by, as yesterday, the temperature profile from Tucson balloon is not accurate for us here in Catalina; its always that bit colder to the north and west of the balloon launch site for days like yesterday. So, like a chef, adding that bit more of butter or garlic, OUR sounding should be tweaked from the TUS one to show slightly higher and colder cloud tops, probably near – 5 C, not at ZERO or slightly cooler in overshooting Cumulus/Stratocumulus tops as would be expected from the Tucson sounding. Also, since it sprinkled at 8 AM, and not 5 AM, its also likely that clouds tops were going up some as the trough from the west approached yesterday. So there are lots of possibilities.
Sure wish we’d had a PIREP! (Texting form of, “Pilot report”). Any CMJ’s out there have an aircraft that we could take up and kind of poke around up there, see for sure what really happened instead of “hand waving”?
Absent aircraft reports, I am going to say that almost certainly yesterday’s sprinkle was a case of rain formed by “collisions with coalescence, or via the “warm rain” process (called that because it doesn’t have ice), sometimes called here, “coalision” rain. Very unusual in Arizona and, you can see that if you have to park your car outside to see how much came out of a cloud producing rain through “coalision”, it doesn’t amount to much.
You know, this is a great story for you. First, you observe rain that no one else did, or even cares about, until maybe you tell them it was almost certainly caused by collisions among cloud droplets, and then watch their eyes bug out!
Had some spectacular highlights again on the Catalinas, and also evidence of the aerosol loading as we say, in the crepuscular rays (colloq., crepsucular) shown below.
Since there is STILL no rain indicated for the next 15 days in the models, just dry (for now) trough passages, I may have to discuss yesterday’s sprinkle again tomorrow. Thinking of a title even now: “That sprinkle; more insights on what happened.” Yeah, that should do it.