What being taller and darker can do for Cumulus cloud formation

Yesterday we had a great example of what that Mexican Cumulus cloud factory, the Pinacate Reserve north of Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) can do.  This darkened spot on the earth, mountainous with volcanic craters and lava fields to as high as 3,900 feet, is easily visible in satellite images. It often launches its own Cumulus field, as it did spectacularly yesterday.   This darkened spot is likely much warmer than the surrounding desert.

Some of the Cumulus reached the Cumulonimbus stage, producing rain in that area and a bit downwind.  There were no other Cumulonimbus clouds in the vicinity, at least when the Reserve ones first formed, so this cloud factory really stood out in the satellite imagery.  I was thinking it might be a place you’d like to visit when on a cloud vacation, never mind all the strange and interesting critters, craters, and lava rocks there.  (Hey, its so moonlike there NASA sent astronuts there to be trained for moon landings in 1965-1970!)

Here’s what the Pinacate Reserve looks like in a “close up” from the Landsat satellite:











Below the nice Landsat image is what it did to the cloud field yesterday in a sequence of satellite images from yesterday afternoon from the U of AZ.

12:45 PM. A cluster of Cumulus clouds has already formed over the dark Pinacate Reserve (arrow).
1:10 PM.
2:00 PM.  A large anvil cloud from a Cumulonimbus is clearly present, extending eastward from the Reserve.
3:45 PM. Still puffin’. Wonder if you can live there?
4:15 PM. Showing signs of decay, but is still “trying.”


5 PM. All gone.


















































The End.