Saturday, August 11, 2007

Storms in Tucson Metro Area on Friday 10 August 2007

Storms did develop over much of southeastern and south central Arizona yesterday. However, Cochise County in the far southeast was relatively suppressed, perhaps because dry air from New Mexico and northern Mexico invaded that part of the state.

Here at our house, we began hearing thunder from storms on the Catalina Mountains by 4:30 pm. I took Photo 1 of the initial developments over the Catalinas at 3:45 pm, looking NNE. My estimate is that cloud bases were at 700 mb or a bit lower, which fits with what one would expect from yesterday morning's TWC sounding.

The evening sounding was quite dry and this morning's (Saturday 11 August) is too moist. More on the problems of trying to forecast storms using the flawed data from the NWS/Sippican sonde in the next post.

I took Photo 2 at about 5:15 pm, again looking NNE. At this time frequent lightning was visible, along with lots of rumbling thunder. Updrafts had built southward from the mountains. There was another cell off to the ESE that had come off the Rincon Mountains, and new updrafts were forming between them. Photo 3 shows the Catalina storms in a view to the N, i.e., a bit to west of my Photo 2. The storms from the Rincons and the Catalinas apparently merged over the north side of town and then moved westward as a severe thunderstorm, producing damaging downburst winds.

Here at house we experienced strong wind gusts of 40 to 55 mph (estimated) from about 5:50 pm until about 6:20 pm. Winds were initially from the east with lots of dust, then from the northeast, and finally from the north (I think, since visibility was near zero in heavy rain at this time). Rain accumulation here was only 0.29". Jim Toth reported 0.97" a couple of miles to our NW.

Photo 4 shows the view of the storm from campus at 5:54 pm looking N. The ragged appendage, ahead of the outflow, showed some rotation as I observed it from the house. Note that the updraft and leading edge of rain shaft show green coloring, and small hail was indeed reported with the storm. Photo 5 shows some of the wind damage produced by the storms outflow, several miles to our NW.

All in all, quite an interesting afternoon here!

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