Actually, there are no thoughts about the Super Bowl here. The title was just another cheap attempt to attract a reader that might be both cloud-centric AND a football fan, creating a moneyful increase in web traffic for this blog.
Yesterday’s gorgeous cloud patterns1
First you had your Cirrus, the highest of all clouds except for stratospheric nacreous clouds which kind of mess things up up there by eating ozone. We will not display n-clouds.
Cirrus, as you know, ALMOST always precedes lower clouds since they’re moving so much faster than the lower ones. So we get a sequence of clouds before it starts to rain that generally is the same, over and over again as in that movie about weather, Ground Hog Day. But let us ramble on…
First, patchy Cirrus, then maybe a sheet of Cirrostratus, then the lower stuff as Cirrostratus thickens downward to become that gray sheet called Altostratus. Throw in a few Altocumulus clouds that become a sheet underneath, and voila, your in Seattle, with rain on the doorstep. Yep, that’s the Seattle, and well, the Middle Latitude Pre-Storm Cloud Sequence (MLPSCS)2.
The weather just ahead
Of course, everyone, including media weathercasters, are all over the incoming stupendous storm event. For a more technical discussion, here’s one by Mike L., U of AZ forecasting expert, who got excited enough about our storm to come to send out a global e-mail. I think you should read it, though I left out all the graphics. I’ve already been too graphic today.
———–Special Statement by Mike L———————————-
“A very unusual heavy precipitation event is forecast for the next few days across Arizona and New Mexico as extremely moist air interacts with multiple short waves. As seen in the below data from the NWS, the maximum monthly IPW for Jan is about 28-29mm. If the various WRF forecasts verify, the upcoming storm will set new a new January IPW record.
The 12z WRFGFS indicates very high moisture levels being advected towards Arizona due to a low latitude low located west of the Baja spur. While IPW has slowly decreased from the previous storm over much of the area, La Paz is seeing a upturn in observed IPW.
As seen below, at 5pm today, some convection is forecast near to the low. Lightning data has indicated there has been some strong convection during the day today. Model initializations are normally suspect so far from any upper air stations, but it seems that both the NAM and GFS seem to have the intensity and location initialized well. One item of note is that during the past few days, the models have had a trend of moving the heaviest precipitation back to the west. Initially, the heaviest band was well in to NM whereas you’ll see later, it is now over much of eastern/central Arizona.
By late tomorrow afternoon, the low has only moved eastward slightly, but IPW continues to increase over NW Mexico and into Arizona. Precipitation begins mainly over the higher terrain of eastern Arizona.
By Wednesday morning, the mid level low has intensified as a strong short wave dives down behind the mean trough along with CAA into the back side.
Significant synoptic scale lift is present over southern Arizona and into northern Mexico by this time.
Extreme IPW is forecast to be present during the morning hours on Friday and combined with the favorable dynamics, widespread moderate to heavy rain is predicted. As the low becomes cut off, there will be an extended period for precipitation.
Precipitation rates are forecast to be above .25″/hour in some locations during the morning hours.
Partial clearing is forecast by Friday afternoon which allows some heating. Combined with cooler air aloft and high IPW, moderate amounts of CAPE are present during the afternoon.
By later in the afternoon, as Bob Maddox pointed out, convection forms and results in some locally heavy precipitation.
Tucson’s vertical profile is quite impressive with 700 J/Kg of CAPE and some vertical shear to support organized convection. Hail is also a threat.
Convection continues into the evening over southern Arizona with a continued threat of hail and some lightning.
The 3 day QPF is very impressive with widespread 1 inch amounts with some areas receiving over 3 inches. Some of these areas are associated with the strong convection present on Friday afternoon/evening. Confidence is low to medium due to the lack of upper air data and lack of run to run consistency as discussed previously. Also, the output in this discussion was solely from the 12z WRFGFS. The WRFNAM from last night had the heaviest precipitation somewhat to the east. It will be informative to see the next suite of model runs overnight to see if this westward trend ceases. There is a chance that it could continue and the heaviest precipitation is actually farther west than depicted below.
Very little of this precipitation falls as snow except at the very highest elevations, above 9k feet due to the sub tropical air-mass and lack of cold air.
Note that this discussion will only be available for organizations who are (or have) supported the Arizona Regional Modeling Program. This change will take effect before next monsoon season. Private individuals not associated with commercial/governmental agencies will continue to receive the discussions. If your agency would like to support the Program, please email me for details. “
————–End of special statement by Mike L—————————
1Let us not forget Simon and Garfunkel’s telling descriptions of Patterns of life; they repeat in clouds, too. (Pretty funny lead in commercial where Bryant Gumbel is asking, “What is the internet?”)
2Back in the old days when cloud forms were used to tell weather, Cirrostratus sheets, those high thin sheets, often with a halo, foretold rain 70% of the time here in the US (see Compendium of Meteorology, 1951). Deserts don’t much see this sequence. Cirrus are mostly meaningless in them, just indicating some withering tail of a system with rain that’s far away most of the time.
3NOT a reference to an untoward sex act.