Sunday, December 27, 2009

Details on Christmas Eve Blizzard in Oklahoma

For details on the Christmas Eve blizzard in Oklahoma, see Roger Edward's photo above and his blog writeup at

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Cold Christmas

The Christmas Holiday has been quite cold here at the house with morning lows of:

Dec. 24 25F

Dec. 25 21F

Dec. 26 20F

Dec. 27 20F

This morning's low (on 26th) of 20F is the coldest since Dec. 28 2008 - when the low was also 20F. Very chilly for the desert but much warmer than many experienced the last several days!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Winter in the Desert


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Second Strong Storm of December Across Arizona

As was well advertised by both the short and long-range models, a strong storm pushed across Arizona yesterday and during the night. There is some snow lingering in the far southeast portions of the state. The subtropical moisture plume mentioned in Sunday's post did come across southern Arizona briefly (mainly as high and middle clouds with some virga, mammatus, and sprinkles - trace here at house midday yesterday) but was shunted east and south before the strong PVA moved into southern Arizona. The storm blew into the Tucson area yesterday afternoon with gusty winds and plenty of blowing dust, as shown above.
Highlights from the observations this morning:
It is difficult to assess the Pima County ALERT gauges this morning since higher elevation sites experienced a snow event and those gauges are registering "0". It does appear that the coverage was nearly a 100%, although a couple of sites in the far west part of the network might have stayed dry. Amounts ranged from around a 1/10" to a bit more than 1/2" - once again well-predicted by the models. Here at the house we had 0.32" and atmo had 0.51". Winds gusted at most southern Arizona stations to around 40 to 50 mph, not nearly as strong as with the event of December 7/8. I did note that Gutherie recorded 64 mph, Horse Camp Canyon had winds to 72 mph, and the atmo anemometer (75 ft above ground level) had several gusts around 65 mph.
Other observations of interest: snow occurred this early morning at Nogales, Ft. Huachuca, and Douglas, and during the night at Kingman. Phoenix and Scotssdale reported thunderstorms yesterday afternoon, and Prescott had thunder with snow. The models continue to predict that this S/W will will produce a blizzard-like storm for parts of the central and northern Plains on Christmas day.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

More on Tuesday Night/Wednesday AM Storm

Shown above is an Eastern Pacific IR image from 1400 UTC Sunday morning. At the present time there is a long plume of tropical and subtropical moisture extending northward into the S/W that will be digging down the coast. Thus, there is a nice "pineapple" connection in place. However, the NAM does not pick this plume up as the S/W digs. Rather, the NAM indicates that westerly flow around the base of the trough will shunt the low-latitude moisture off to the east and into Mexico. This connection should be monitored closely the next two days, since it has the potential to bring a more significant precip event to the Southwest than the model currently is predicting.

Interesting Weather Situation Developing for Southwest

After the huge snow storm in the East, attention for the next strong storm event will shift to the Southwest. This morning's (Sunday 20 Dec 09) NAM 500 mb forecast valid on Wednesday morning indicates very strong PVA across southern Arizona. Thicknesses (1000 - 500 mb) around Tucson are very near 534 dm, indicating quite low snow levels with this storm. All the models are very consistent and indicate that this strong S/W will swing rapidly into the Central Plains, producing a Christmas Eve blizzard. Thus, a very interesting event is unfolding for Southwest and Central Plains as Christmas approaches.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Strong Winds in Southern New Mexico

From Mike Hardiman in El Paso regarding the strong winds that impacted much of the state yesterday (Mike asks a good question below concerning the possible roll of the N-S Franklin Mountains in the localized occrrence of very strong winds east of the mountains).

Quite the wind event in the El Paso CWA today (Tuesday, December 8, 2009). Widespread damage in the Sacramento Mountains with 70 mph wind gusts at an APRS mesonet site in High Rolls, NM (elev ~6250) and 55 mph at a WxUnderground site in Cloudcroft, NM (elev 8850). Both were recorded before 9am and were the last obs reported before apparent power outages stopped the data flow. Lots of trees and powerlines down, some falling into homes.

The 12z RAOB from EPZ showed a strong inversion just above the mountaintop level of the Franklin Mountains which bisect the city of El Paso. Wind Gusts on the east (leeward) side of town topped out at 79 mph at an AWS site, which was well supported by 75 and 78 mph gusts at other mesonet stations. Wind blew down the signature canopy at Cohen Stadium (which looks eerily like Denver Int'l Airport), roofs blown off structures, debris breaking car windows, trees down, etc. Also, the Transmountain highway was shut down due to high winds blowing rocks into the road. Lots of residents reported a "tornado" despite just scattered flat Cu at 6000 feet. Interestingly, a plot of all the "mesonet" sites on the East Side shows one site reporting a SE wind much of the morning (everyone else was SW), before turning due West with that 79 mph gust, after which it remained SW. Don't really trust the siting of all these stations (combination of AWS Schoolnet, APRS, WxUnderground, etc), but the one site in question hasn't been noted to have wind direction issues in lighter winds. Can't help but wonder if a rotor or some sort of lee-side eddy wasn't at work here and may have aided in the damaging winds -- the worst damage was sort of clustered in the area of this cock-eyed wind ob.

A notoriously windy site at Aguirre Springs, NM, on the east slopes of the Organ Mountains near Las Cruces has a 97 mph recorded gust which destroyed a well-built hay barn. Widespread wind damage also occurred at White Sands Missle Range Main Base, 'de-roofing' the Police Station there, knocking out powerlines, injuring 2 people, and finally sending workers home early. WSMR's mesonet includes a station at San Augustin Pass (elev ~5700), through which US-70 links WSMR with Las Cruces. Peak Gust 116 mph. Hurricane force winds there are common in WSW high-wind events, but 100+ mph is still quite notable.


Rapid Deepening of the Upper-Midwest Cyclone

The cyclone bringing the blizzard and severe winter storm to the central US deepened rapidly during the night. At 00Z last evening it had a central pressure of ~994 mb. This morning it has moved to near Milwaukee (see above) and deepened to ~978 mb. Thus, the storm has been deepening at more than a mb an hour - very impressive.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Weather Watchers

Cows in southeast Nebraska watching and waiting for the blizzard to arrive.

Big Storm Blows into Central Plains

Very late post today.

Brief summary of various aspects of the overnight storm event.

Precipitation - at 7 am this morning about 75% of the Alert gauges in Pima County had measured precipitation in past 24 hours. Those that had not had rain were generally in the southern portions of eastern Pima County and most of those had light rainfall after 7 am. We had
0.24" in the gauge at 7 am here at house and had 0.02" more in the next hour or so. Heaviest rainfall report I noted at 7 am was 1.65" at CDO and Coronado (i.e. up on the northwest flanks of the Catalinas).

Snows were quite heavy at high elevations in the mountains and the photo above shows a bit of snow on higher peaks of the Catalinas at right side of photo.

However, the main aspect of the storm was the very strong wind gusts that swept across most of state - many areas in almost all parts of state had winds of 50 to 60 mph and max gusts were considerably higher. For example, the Gutherie RAWS station reported winds of 79 mph, Horse Camp Canyon had 73 mph, and the anemometer on the roof of the Atmo building on campus also had 73 mph. The only station that reported thunder was apparently Phoenix and the SPC storm reports map indicates a number of severe thunderstorm reports in Arizona last evening. This was a "sneaky" severe storm situation in that the severe winds were produced by the extreme synoptic pressure gradients and the thunderstorms were along for the ride!

The most interesting thing about the photo above is that there is considerable dust hanging in the air, even after widespread precipitation. This gives an erie cast to the photo and as the preciptation areas moved to the east they had a distinct brownish cast to them. Very strange morning reflecting the power of the windstorm.

The strong S/W that produced th overnight weather in Arizona has swept eastward very quickly and is now bringing a very major snow event to the Central Plains and upper Midwest, in addition to widespread blizzard conditions tonight as the low intensifies.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Not Quite as Cold This Morning

Considerably high-level cloudiness moved into southern Arizona overnight helping keep temperatures a bit warmer last night. Low here at house was 24F. Low at TUS NWS observation site was only 35F this morning, in contrast to 32F yesterday. The exception was far southeast Arizona, where Douglas dropped to a low of 20F this morning, in contrast to their low yesterday's of 27F.
Difficult forecast situation for next week as fast, low-latitude flow will bring several S/Ws across Arizona with at least some moisture from Pacific. Situation is complicated by the strong, cold S/W trough to the north - making timing, exact locations, and possible amounts of precipitation hard to anticipate precisely. Pattern for next couple of weeks certainly looks el nino-ish!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Cold Morning Here at House

It was quite cold here this morning - coldest of the winter so far with a low of 23F. I noticed a lot of readings down in the 20s this morning across southeast Arizona. The coldest I saw at lower elevations was 21F at Sasabe. This was 14th freeze this winter here at house and 7th day down in the 20s.

Snow photo above is from Mike Hardiman in El Paso. he has taken a lot of nice shots of the snowfall produced in the New Mexico and big bend borderlands by the storm earlier this week (see below) and these can be viewed at

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Jim Means reports from
Alpine, CA at 1270', 32.83N 116.81W and are Alpine 3W on the hourly roundups out of San Diego
Hi Bob,
We had an under-predicted storm here on Saturday. I got 0.70" at my house with pea-sized hail, and some places nearby had over an inch of rain, with 5 inches of snow at Mt. Laguna.
Nice start to the winter season--things are less flammable now (a prime concern at my house).


I tried to find recent photos from the snow event across southern New Mexico and the Big Bend country this morning but with no luck. The photo above shows heavy snow falling in El Paso yesterday (Mon Nov. 30th).

Yesterday 5% of the Pima County alert gauges had light precipitation and these were all in the Catalina and Rincon Mountains.

Clear and cool this morning with a low here at house of 31F. Fall (September, October, and November) closes out with only a total of 0.63" inches of rain here at the house.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cold Winds but Not Much Rain

The intrusion of a strong cold front from New Mexico into southeastern Arionza around 4 am this morning brought an end to the precipitation at lower elevations in eastern Pima County. Strong downslope east winds continue here at the house with gusts estimated 30 to 35 mph. For the 24 hours ending at 7 am 90% of the Pima County alert gauges had measured rain but, even though the event was widespread, amounts were light with the highest amount only 0.47". Here at the house the entire, even with several periods of lightning and thunder, event produced only 0.10". Earlier this morning the strong east winds across the Rincon Mountains produced a sky that reminded me of Colorado - lenticular clouds, a cap cloud sitting on the mountains and a couple of rotor clouds to the west of the mountains. Regardless of the sad amounts of rain, it's nice to have some weather again after so long.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

More on the Southwest Cutoff

Photo above shows early morning rainbow today, Sunday the 29th, to the northwest of the house.

As the 500 mb cutoff dug southward across southern California yesterday, strong and gusty winds deloped in south-central Arizona around mid to late morning on Saturday, November 28th. The winds caused a serious dust storm between Tucson and Phoenix that resulted in wrecks and fatalities on I-10.
CASA GRANDE, Ariz. - Two people are dead after their small sport utility vehicle crashed into a commercial vehicle during a dust storm in south-central Arizona.

The state Department of Public Safety began warning travelers Saturday morning to avoid Interstate 10 near Casa Grande until the dust settled. The wind slowed down by the afternoon, but Public Safety spokesman Harold Sanders said visibility along the interstate from mile post 190 to 216 remained poor.

Sanders says officers are investigating five separate collisions in the area that resulted from Saturday's dust storms, including the one involving the two fatalities. He did not have details on the other collisions.


Finally Some Weather in the Southwest!

A strong and cold cutoff at 500 mb has dug into the Southwest during the last 36 hours, bringing clouds and thunderstorms to the Tucson area. Photo above shows clouds hanging on the west flanks of the Catalina Mountains at sunrise on November 29, 2009. At 7 am I measured only 0.01" but saw some in-cloud flashes and heard rumbles of thunder. This is the first rainfall since October 3rd. Just the smell of moisture in the air is very much welcome!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Low temperatures last several mornings

As the photo above shows, we've had another night with clear skies and strong radiational cooling here in Tucson. The low temperatures here at the house (near the Rillito Wash on the north side of Tucson) for the last three mornings have been: Monday Nov. 16 - 26F (39F); Tuesday Nov. 17 - 27F (53F); and Nov. 18 - 36F (48F). The temperatures in parens are the official NWS observed morning lows at Tucson International Airport (TUS). The winds has kept things warmer down south at the airport; whereas, each morning here at the house it has been calm. The remarkable 26F difference between here and the airport on Tuesday morning is the largest that I've observed - beating the previous record of 23F! I also suspect that the temperature down at the Rillito was several degrees cooler than here at the house - so there's the low down.
No measureable rain here since October 2/3 but it does appear there was a sprinkle trace on Saturday the 14th. It did rain on Saturday where we were, 5 NW of Sonoita, as I suspected it would. The orographic forcing there is quite good with S to SW low-level winds.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Showers on the Catalinas

Early morning view looking north to the Catalinas, where the montain tops were also in the clouds. The two 500 mb S/Ws affecting the western US have pulled substantial moisture into Arizona - a nice change from past days this week. Could actually smell moisture when I walked this morning. Showers now obscuring parts of the mountains, where the current POPs of 20 to 30% are not high enough. Will be interesting to see what happens down at lower elevations. We'll be down NW of Sonoita this afternoon through tomorrow and there'll be an excellent chance that we'll finally see a bit of rain (probably 70% chance or greater based on my experiences down there).

Finally a Bit of Weather

Web cam view on Kitt peak showing that the mountain is in the clouds this morning.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Slight Bit of Weather in Tucson

It has been very dry and mostly tranquil here in Tucson during most of October and early November. October was exceedingly dry with rain at house on only one day (late on the 2nd) that amounted to only 0.05". A weak, upper-level short-wave came by off the Pacific yesterday and produced an afternoon with thick heavy cloud, and some virga and mammatus. A quite dreary afternoon actually.
This morning there are puffy Cu floating around and a few mini-Cbs, as in the photo above. Note the classic Cb structure for this tiny cloud - a clearly distinct updraft area with darkened, flat cloud base, anvil, and snow-crystal virga falling out of the down-shear side of the cloud. Quite an amazing little Cb. That's not a drifting weather balloon above the Cb, but is rather the waning, 3/4 moon. Photo was taken at 8 am this morning (Thursday Nov. 5th, 2009) looking to the west.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Whoops - How did the Seven Day Forecasts Verify?

I have completely redone this post. Paul Iniguez posted a Comment that linked to a nice looping tool for the model forecasts. I was browsing this tool and noticed that I posted the wrong verifying analysis in the original post! Twelve hours can make quite a difference!

Back on October 23rd I posted the 168 hour forecasts (from 23/12Z observations) of the operational versions of the ECMWF and the GFS. These 500 mb forecasts verified at 12Z this morning (30 October). They are posted below and if interested one can scroll down and assess how well the forecasts did wrt the verifying analysis at 500 mb (posted above).
You'll see that the models were each off about a quater of a wavelength for the deep trough over the central US. The ECMWF was too slow, especially for the southwestern end of the trough. Whereas, the GFS was too fast. Both models had troubles with the following trough off the Pacific coast.
A quick scan of the verifying analysis heights vs the forecast heights indicates that the GFS had heights too low by about 450 m off the northwest WA coast and the ECMWF had heights about 250 m too low over southern Arizona.

But, all-in-all, model performance at 5 to 7 days was just amazingly good from my old-timer perspective!

Snow Event in Northern Mexico

From Mike Hardiman - El Paso
You've probably already seen this, but vis satellite this morning shows snow fell over the higher terrain deep into Chihuahua, Mexico overnight. In fact, the observation from Chihuahua City this morning was carrying Snow Grains, Temp of 32F. Snow coated the Franklin Mountains here in El Paso, down to about 4500' elevation. A few flakes fell even in the valley locations (~3600') yesterday.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tough Sledding on The Plains

Web cam view of I-70 at Bennett, CO, at 2:30 pm 29 October 2009. The storm in Colorado has dumped about 1 to 3 feet+ of snow along the Front Range from Colorado Springs north to Cheyenne. Heaviest snow and blizzard conditions have shifted eastward onto the Plains this afternoon.
Back here in Tucson, we had the coldest morning at the house since February 11, 2009 with a morning low of 26F.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Very Rare Occurrence

How often does the coldest 500 mb temperature in continental US and southern Canada occur at Tucson, Arizona?

Storm Heads Toward Denver

View of the State Capital in Denver this morning (October 28, 2009) as the snow storm begins to ramp up in Colorado.

Here in southeast Arizona we had mostly dust and wind yesterday afternoon and during the night. Temperatures have been falling since around midnight. Very little precipitation except at higher elevations. The Pima County ALERT network data show that 8 of the mountain sites reported measurable rainfall. Amounts were light except at Davidson Canyon which reported 0.24" - the Carr RAWS station reported 0.21". So this event, which materialized much more quickly than the long range models had been forecasting 5 or so days ago, brings us wind and winter-like temperatures. Winds were mostly in the 30 to 45 mph range as the cold front swept through, but there were some reports of higher maximum gusts at the RAWS stations in southeast Arizona: Mt. Hopkins 50 mph, Horse Camp 53 mph, Chiricahua NM Headquarters 55 mph, and the highest I found this morning - Gutherie 60 mph. So, words for the day are "bundle up and keep warm."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dust Laden Skies

Evening view looking north toward Catalinas as winds of 30 to 40 miles per hour bring in dust and grit from western Arizona. Ugh.

Coldest Morning of Fall

Morning web cam shot of sky this morning as strong short wave digs southward toward Arizona. Interestingly, this morning has been the coldest here at the house of the Fall, with a low of 38F.
The first low temperature in the 30s this Fall has occurred about two weeks later than last year when it was 36F on the 12th and 29F on the 13th. The lows here have been very steady during the past week with readings of 42, 42, 42, 42, 41, 40 and 38. It appears that the low at TUS airport this morning was 49 or 50F.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Big Changes in Pattern Likely Part 3

Above is the GFS North Pacific surface forecast for 96 hours from this morning's data (1200 UTC 23 October 2009). The GFS forecasts a tremendously strong surface low to develop in the west Pacific, while a strong low over the central Pacific is weakening and splitting into north and south components. The west Pacific low appears to be related to the extra-tropical transition of once Super Typhoon Lupit, which has been looping and wandering around the area east of Luzon. Definitely a difficult forecast situation. the central Pacific system appears to be interacting with the remnants of former Hurricane Neki, which developed south of Hawaii and is now west of the islands and moving northwardas a Tropical Storm - another complex forecast situation. So, the forecast pattern changes over the U.S. are related to the model forecast, upstream solutions for the very complex situation over the North Pacific. The flip-flopping of forecasts in the two models compared here probably results from both their initializations and the way they forecast the interactions between the tropics and the higher latitudes to evolve over the next few days.

Big Changes in Pattern Likely Part 2

The ECMWF 168 hour 500 mb forecast, valid at the same time as the GFS forecast below is quite different. It predicts a strong cutoff still lingering over the Southwest while the digging S/W is further off the northwest coast. So, the two models indicate a change to an amplified pattern but with the weather outcomes for next Friday being considerably different for much of the country. The ECMWF has been fairly consistent the last two forecast cycles but was much different than the GFS in yesterday morning's forecasts. So, the question is what's causing this large, longer term variance in the two models. See Part 3 above for some possiblities.

Big Changes in Pattern Likely Part 1

The above GFS 500 mb forecast is at 196 hours, valid next Friday at 1200 UTC. Note that the morning run of the GFS was markedly different than the runs from 12 and 24 hours ago in that the strong S/W over the Mississippi Valley is now forecast to be progressive. A new and powerful S/W is now forecast to be digging down the West Coast. See Part 2 above for a comparison with the ECMWF.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

More Chaff "Rain"

It has been a perfectly clear day across southwestern Arizona. However, the WSR-88D precipitation algorithm data are indicating that there has been precipitation along the Borderlands and southeast of San Diego (see storm total precipitation product above). One small area along the border is indicated to have received more than 0.60" of rain this afternoon. A bit of the "rain" is due to ground clutter echo, but most of it is due to military chaff releases. Unfortunately, the chaff contamination problem has never been addressed by the WSR-88D agency partners (NOAA-NWS, FAA, and DoD) and these kind of erroneous rainfall products go right into the level 3 archives and lurk there waiting to confound researchers of the future.
David Blanchard commented on the previous chaff post as per:
"A few months ago I noticed chaff streaks in Mexico. What was interesting was they were oriented roughly north-south and were moving to the north.

These streaks had not drifted into Mexico from US military bases and I was left wondering about their origins."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chaff Streaks in Northern Mexico

The KEMX (Tucson) radar composite image this evening indicates a couple of thunderstorms out in far eastern Arizona and New Mexico. The streamer-like echoes along the border and in northern Mexico are not weather echoes. Rather, they are indeed long streamers of chaff being advected southeastward, by the strong winds aloft, from the USAF training ranges near Ajo. These chaff plumes are extending far into Mexico. The radar's automated rainfall alogrithm has interpreted these as areas of rainfall and has accumulated light swaths of precipitation along the swaths. So it goes - user beware.

Mostly Wind and Dust Here at House

The Kitt Peak web cam, looking south toward Baboquivari Peak, view at 5:30 pm MST this evening shows clear skies but with a dusty boundary layer. The strong afternoon winds of 30 to 40 mph brought in lots of dust late in the day from the west and northwest. Some fast moving thunderstorms occurred over the southeast corner of Arizona this afternoon, but we just had wind and dust here at house.

Should be an Interesting Day

Lots of cumulus scudding to the north-northeast this morning with clouds on most of the mountains. View above was at 7 am looking north from Kitt Peak. Low-level moisture increasing, at least briefly, as strong, short-wave, trough at 500 mb approaches from the northwest part of state. This is not a particularly cold S/W, with coldest temps at 500 mb around -20C, but positive vorticity advection will be fairly strong this afternoon and we should see a nice mix of weather elements: showers, some thunder, wind, dust and falling temperatures.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Art Douglas Reports from Ash Canyon

10 pm MST radar last night from NCAR RAP web site - see second note below

Two nights of thunderstorms here in Ash Canyon (SE Huachucas) with T and 0.01 on the rain amounts..........but spectacular lightning SW to S to SE and East. Heavy rainshafts in Mexico to my SSE much of the evening which got illuminated by the cloud to ground strikes. Saturday's line was active 10PM to midnight and yesterday afternoon Cananea area started popping early and by 7PM to Midnight great lightning display with a good number of leaders coming out of the mid layer of the CBs cloud and back in at 20,000 to 30,000'. Even more spectacular were the positive strokes...very orange and blinded me for a few seconds and the thunder afterwards was incredible. Clouds topping the ridges now with dew point 54F. Models show nothing! No Guaymas sounding since October 17 and Tucson must have failed this morning. LAP MZT and CHIH all have pretty light winds up to about 400mb........not like with Jimena or Olaf. Rick might need a little ventilation to compensate for the drier air from the NW. ECMWF and NAM don't recurve Rick......and it looks like the lower layer system is still moving NW while the upper deck is moving NNE.


Note that Art mentions the fact that the NWS operational models shear out some of Rick's middle-level vorticity but keep the circulation in the lower half of troposphere drifting slowly around near the south end of Baja. This alternate scenario is mentioned in this morning's 8am NHC discussion, but the official forecasts remain that Rick will turn the corner and accelerate rapidly inland over west-central Mexico.
Note 2 - The NCAR RAP web site provides easy access to NWS radar reflectivity plots but, because the base scan data are used for both the site and regional displays, the products are seriously flawed across the western US. This is because of severe terrain blockage problems around most sites. The Tucson base scan figure above illustrates the many sectors that are completely blocked. This is why one should always try to examine composite reflectivity products for western US radars.

Precipitable Water Increasing

Precipitable water has been increasing slowly the past 24 to 48 hours as Hurricane Rick's influence has inched the boundary between dry continental air and the subtropical air in Mexico northward. Values have reached around an inch over southeast Arizona and may help fuel additional storms today - particularly if the warm layer of air above 500 mb cools as the strong S/W over the Pacific begins to move toward Arizona. Unfortunately, there is no morning upper-air sounding available from Tucson this morning. Regardless a slight bit of local weather to keep up our interest.

Isolated Thunderstorms Yesterday

There were isolated thunderstorms around southeast Arizona at dusk yesterday, as the 02Z regional radar above shows. The storms were quite pretty, especially to the southeast with very clear skies and the setting sun highlighting them.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Meanwhile At The Other Side of the North Pacific Ocean

Super Typhoon Lupit is spinning away with sustained winds of 135 kts.

Hurricane Rick Still Cat 5 Storm

Hurricane Rick, spinning along over the eastern north Pacific remains a Category 5 Hurricane this afternoon with sustained winds of 140 kts.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

From the NHC

WTPZ65 KNHC 172208
310 PM PDT SAT OCT 17 2009



Rick Continues to Strengthen

Hurricane Rick is now evaluated to be a Category 4 Hurricane after continuing to intensify rapidly. The long range models are indicating that it may have a mid-week landfall on southern Baja.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rick Develops Rapidly

Apparently Tropical Storm Rick has formed very quickly today (Thursday October 15, 2009) and is currently spinning off the coast of far south Mexico - see above visible satellite image. The models forecast Rick to intensify rapidly and that it will become a major hurricane as it moves to the northwest. Current indications are that it may threaten southern Baja, as have several other storms this season.

Monday, October 12, 2009

TS Patricia Moving Slowly Northward

Tropical Storm Patricia (see IR image from 12 UTC above) is located south of the tip of Baja and is moving slowly north-northwestward. The combined influences of Patricia and the negatively-tilted trough off California have produced a long fetch of southerly to south-southwesterly winds from the south end of Baja northward into southern Arizona. There is a strong gradient in precipitable water (see the PW time series at atmo home page), ranging from half an inch along the southern Arizona border to over 2 inches at Navajoa, Sonora. Strong morning convection is underway about half way up the Gulf of California, and a low-level cumulus field is moving northward into southern Arizona. So, there are some indications that the current moisture plume, below 500 mb, from the subtropics may affect southeastern Arizona. The morning NAM model runs indicate the deeper moisture will just clip the southeast corner of Arizona and impact mostly New Mexico; however, the NAM also forecasts a strong southerly flow at 850 mb from the GoC into southern Arizona persisting for next 24 to 36 hours. So, something to keep an eye on to the south.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Typhoon Melor Heads Toward Japan

Melor is now a Typhoon with sustained winds of 110 kt and gusts to 135 kt, i.e., equivalent to a high-end Cat. 3 Hurricane. The storm is forecast to hit the main island of Japan tomorrow evening. It is expected to weaken to a Cat. 1 equivalent by the time it makes landfall.

Super-Typhoon Melor

The above is an IR image of Super-Typhoon Melor on the 4th of October 2009. This was an extremely intense Typhoon - equivalent Cat. 5 relative to Hurricanes in Atlantic and east Pacific. There are numerous photos, news stories, and satellite images on the internet if one searches.

Unusual Sounding Problem

Jason Criscio sent the above photo a bit after 4 pm yesterday, asking if the NWS was trying a new procedure to be sure the upper-air sonde was reading correctly. He said the balloon (top center) had been floating above the NWS roof for about 15 minutes. However, he reported that it was still there after 7 pm and that he had seen another balloon launched.

So, Jason's photo shows one of the dangers of launching upper-air balloons from an open, exposed tub on top of a cluttered roof. The instrument package apparently snagged on the top of the tracking system dome, requiring a second sonde launch. The strange and unique launch system used at TWC (Tucson) is documented in the first part of the 21 June 2007 post titled
"Comments on the NWS Radiosonde Replacement System (RRS)" at

Friday, October 02, 2009

Very Difficult Forecast Situation

First - low temperatures: this was the first morning this Fall with a low down in the 40s - 47F - here at the house (note that it was quite a bit cooler down at the Rillito pathway). The airport (TUS) only dropped down to 59F this morning.
Second - Olaf makes for a difficult forecast situation. This morning's NAM run continues to keep the significant precipitation along and south of the border. The circultion of Olaf is quite large and the moisture shield extends far to the north of the center. It seems clear that the circulation of Olaf at and above 500 mb will shear away quickly to the east after about 24 hours. However, the NAM indicates that the large circulation below 500 mb will continue moving to the north as a remnant low and that low-level southerly winds will affect southern Arizona beginning in 24 to 36 hours (perhaps sooner given the model's tendency to be slow on moisture advection) and continue out through 72 hours. Thus, there should be a large advection of low-level moisture across the border, ahead of the digging cutoff/short-wave at 500 mb. So, the interplay among all these features will produce a significant October precipitation event and the key question for here will be how far north the event can advance. It will be interesting to see what the atmo WRF runs indicate later this morning.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


The Tropical Storm west of the tip of Baja now officially has a name - Olaf.

Evening Storms

There were a few storms across southeastern Arizona yesterday afternoon and evening. the photo above shows strongly sheared towers building south of the Rincon Mountains just after sunset. The main tower quickly developed into a 50 to 60 dBZ storm that moved rapidly eastward, just north of Benson.
All eyes now to the south, as we watch to see exactly how the very large tropical disturbance off of Baja will evolve. The NAM model also predicts very cold temperatures in the core of the next short-wave trough as it moves it south along the west coast.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Not Cool This Morning!

Surface dewpoints and precipitable water have been increasing steadily for last day or so -
Tds into the low 50s out at Sells and Sasabe, and even at the airport, with PW amounts generally an inch or a bit more. The night brought some middle clouds and light breezes and increased moisture (note the hazy sky at sunrise in view above) - leading to a very mild low of 67F here at the house. The official low at the airport appears to have been 75F!

Looks like there may enough moisture for showers later today in at least far southeastern Arizona, as well as showers and thunderstorms with the S/W to the north. Unfortunately, the S/W in the westerlies and the subtropical disturbances to the south-southwest are a bit out of phase, or we would have been looking at a nice end of September precipitation event. Perhaps things will be in better sync by the weekend?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Subtropical Moisture Pushing Northward

This morning a very large area of storms and disturbed weather continued from the south end of the GoC southward to 10 degrees North off the southwestern Mexican coast. There is now a very large circulation spinning away to the southwest of the end of Baja - very close examination of satellite loops indicates that there may well be two circulations embedded within the larger low pressure area. It is a very interesting situation and presumably the NHC will append some formal identification to the system(s) later this evening or tonight.

The issue of most immediate interest is how far north the push of subtropical moisture will come before the front from the northwest pushes through tomorrow. The satellite PW loops indicate that the moist subtropical air has now pushed up to about 30 degrees north - as indicated also per current Td readings of 79F at Guaymas (??) and 66F at Hermosillo. The models indicate that the moisture plume will push north mainly into New Mexico. However, with strong pressure falls to the north and the rapid northward progress of the moist air during the past 36 hours, it is possible that moisture could affect southeastern Arizona briefly tomorrow - it is an interesting situation worth watching.

Cool Mornings Along the Rillito Wash

Mornings have been very cool here at the house for more than a week now - with the exception of one or two mornings when the wind blew through the night. Lows have been in the middle to upper 50s and have been much cooler than the official low temperatures at TUS. For example, yesterday morning the low here was 55F and this morning the low was 57F. Down south at the airport (TUS) lows both mornings were 70F. So, we've been seeing almost a 50F swing here on the north side of Tucson between morning lows and afternoon highs.
The image above has nothing to do with the temperature discussion of course. There was a very large MCS to the south of the mouth of the Gulf of California yesterday morning and it intiated a push of moist low-level air northward up the GoC. The post above follows the interesting events southwest of Baja and along the southern half of the GoC.