Stu

Jun 252015
 

Recently, I noticed that the Wikipedia page on Monsoons wasn’t fond of referring to the North American Monsoon in the southwestern U.S. as a true monsoon.

Whether it is true or not, it looks like Flagstaff and most of Arizona will get a nice wet start to the season over the next week or so. Below is the 10-day precipitation outlook.

Ten day precipitation outlook from the GFS Model at the  Climate Prediction Center.

Ten day precipitation outlook from the GFS Model at the Climate Prediction Center.

 Posted by at 3:25 am

Model predicts typical start to Monsoon Season

 El Nino/La Nina, Models, Monsoon, Outlooks  Comments Off on Model predicts typical start to Monsoon Season
Jun 212015
 

I think I mentioned several times last summer NOAA’s GFS model predictions of the monsoon season impressed me.They seemed remarkable accurate. I say seemed, because I don’t think I ever did or saw any statistical analysis to prove it. We will see how they do this year.

For now, the model has the season walking slowly up to the season. If you remember last summer it started in earnest. This year, I think we will start to some thunderstorm action at the end of this week, but probably not the real start until closer to the 4th of July. This is normal.

The current El Nino conditions and the warm blob off the coast of California continue to cause me some concern. The image below is the most recent global sea surface anomaly picture from NOAA. There is plenty of warm water to generate the moisture needed for a strong monsoon season. I still worry that jet stream winds might not cooperate One of the reasons there are few strong Atlantic hurricanes in El Nino conditions is due to the high level winds that shear the tops of the clouds off as storms develop in the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico. Could these winds impede our monsoon season?

I don’t know. Also, I don’t think there is any clear data on any effect from El Ninos on monsoon precipitation. We will have to wait and see. For now, enjoy summer. The warm temperatures may not last long.

Global sea surfce temperature anomaly, June 18, 2015. (NOAA)

Global sea surfce temperature anomaly, June 18, 2015. (NOAA)

 Posted by at 5:47 am

Closer to normal June weather on the way

 Climate, El Nino/La Nina, Monsoon, Northern Arizona Weather, Outlooks  Comments Off on Closer to normal June weather on the way
Jun 142015
 

Through Sunday morning, we have received 1.14 inches of rainfall in June. This is a whopping inch over normal. While that is large rainfall for June, 1955 and 1956 are still well in the lead at 2.92 and 2.79. This is for the record since 1950. We could still beat these amounts depending on how the end of the month goes.

The next week or so isn’t going to help. Get ready for typical June weather. Sunny, warm days dominate the model outlook for the next week to 10 days. In Weather Underground’s outlook does not predict the dew point to drop much below 20. or fire conditions.

After 10 days, it’s hard to tell exactly what will happen. It looks like the annual moisture surge from the south will begin. There is plenty of warm water for drawing moisture. The Western Pacific Blob is remaining in place off the California Coast. El Nino conditions continue to strength around the Equator. If we can obtain and maintain the monsoon pattern we could have a wet season.

 Posted by at 9:47 pm

Is the drought over?

 Climate, Northern Arizona Weather  Comments Off on Is the drought over?
Jun 072015
 

It’s been cold and wet for the last couple months in Flagstaff. It has me wondering, when do we know if a drought is over. I bet after another spring weekend with about an inch of rain, it seems like a silly thought. For me, it was a weekend of thunderstorms here in Munich. Seemed like summer in the Mountains.

Nonetheless, I decided to do some work from Germany on the longer term precipitation data for Flagstaff. AT first I looked at 3, 9 and 13 month rolling averages of monthly precipitation. The 3-month look still had a large amount of variability. The 9 and 13 month look were calmer and almost identical, but with the peaks a little more muted on the 13 month graph. I used NWS data from 1950 until May 2015.

Nine and 13 month rolling averages of monthly precipiation.

Nine and 13 month rolling averages of monthly precipitation.

I think this tells an interesting tale. The overall average monthly precipitation was 1.75 inches. If you notice, the average from January 1994 until December 2009 is about 1.5 inches. Those are the only time periods where I calculated the averages. But, the average for the time from the mid-early 1970s until December 1993 is probably closer to 2 inches per month. More recently, the rolling averages have move a bit higher.

Another way to look at the drought situation is total precipitation. Below is a chart of the total precipitation in the last 12 months. Of course it looks very similar to the above chart. But, I think the numbers are a bit more meaningful.

Preceding 12 month precipitation total for Flagstaff.

Preceding 12 month precipitation total for Flagstaff.

This picture looks a bit different. This maybe just be due to less noise in the picture. I see a trend from the winter and spring of 1994 in an upward direction. We have been above the 1.75 inch per month threshold for most of the last few years. Given the large amount of extra heat in the equatorial and eastern Pacific Ocean areas, The rest of this summer should help this trend. We could be emerging from drought.

One more point to consider. Look at the variability in the 12 month total precipitation graph. Totals above 35 inches and below 10 inches should both be expected on a fairly regular basis.

 Posted by at 1:16 pm
Apr 272015
 

These are important questions, that I will try to deal with here. First, a note about the weather. Wow, that was a wet and cold weekend. We aren’t out of the woods, yet. (Huh, a double entendre and I didn’t even try.) There are very important topics for Northern Arizona’s weather, but things have been distracting me. Let’s get started with leaving the woods.

So, we are leaving the woods. My wife and I are moving to Germany. It’s not permanent, just a few years. We will be living in downtown Munich in an area called Glockenbachviertel. We are moving from our house in the woods to an apartment that would fit in part of our top floor. I leave on Saturday to acquire the keys to the apartment and start the move-in process. Quite a change. There’s deeper details that I would be happy to share if your are terribly interested. More or less, a shift in my career and an incredible opportunity.

That’s going to change the blog. I’m not sure how. But, occasionally, you might see a post about weather in Europe along side major events and issues for Northern Arizona weather. I am very curious about German weather. One thing I already learned, that is probably obvious to everyone else, is that because Munich is farther north, the days get longer at the first day of spring. Pretty obvious, but we usually just relate it with summer.

Ah, but what about Northern Arizona. Well, it looks like an El Nino is happening/on-the-way. But not quite. The winds and pressure continue to not be supportive. The major factor is the “Warm Blob.” I think I have mentioned the warming of the California coastal waters. It has now been titled the Warm Blob and it is persistent. And, it is a major factor for our weather. I want to go deeper on it, but for now, please see this post by my friend Bob Tisdale: North Pacific Update: The Blob’s Strengthening Suggests It’s Not Ready to Depart. There is also a good link in that post to a USA Today article. Basically, the warm blob is driving the California drought. Also, it is very interesting to note that the people studying the Blob say it has not relationship to Climate Change or Global Warming.

Back to the woods…I’m not sure what this means for this summer’s monsoon season. I am very concerned that it could alter the normal airflow patterns. we will have to wait and see.

 Posted by at 7:01 pm

That was a wet one

 Northern Arizona Weather, Record, Winter Storms  Comments Off on That was a wet one
Mar 032015
 

Clearing and warming are on the horizon for Northern Arizona. The next two mornings will be in the teens, but we will be back to the 50s for highs by the weekend. A few showers may linger around the area today. Currently, there are no storms in the forecasts for the next week.

The storm totals are here. This was a whopper storm for the region. The Flagstaff Airport received over 4 inches of water. Yesterday was a record at 1.71 inches.

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT 
 NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FLAGSTAFF AZ
 700 PM MST MON MAR 2 2015
 
 ...SNOW AND RAIN REPORTS ACROSS CENTRAL AND NORTHERN AZ...
 
 A MULTI-DAY EVENT BROUGHT SIGNIFICANT RAIN AND SNOW 
 ACCUMULATIONS ACROSS MUCH OF CENTRAL AND NORTHERN ARIZONA.
 THE SNOWFALL TOTALS BELOW ARE FROM MONDAY ONLY. THE 
 LIQUID EQUIVALENT ACCUMULATIONS ARE FOR THE ENTIRE DURATION
 OF THE EVENT...LASTING FROM FRIDAY THROUGH MONDAY EVENING.
 
 
 ***************STORM TOTAL LIQUID EQUIVALENT****************
 
 LOCATION          STORM TOTAL     TIME/DATE   COMMENTS                   
                      RAINFALL           OF 
                      /INCHES/   MEASUREMENT
 
 ARIZONA
 
 ...APACHE COUNTY...
    WINDOW ROCK           0.82   622 PM  3/02                           
 
 ...COCONINO COUNTY...
    FLAGSTAFF AIRPORT     4.09   600 PM  3/02                           
    KACHINA VILLAGE       3.49   645 PM  3/02                           
    HAPPY JACK            3.14   630 PM  3/02                           
    BLUE RIDGE            2.74   630 PM  3/02                           
    MORMON LAKE           2.32   625 PM  3/02                           
    GUNSIGHT (RAWS)       1.89   609 PM  3/02                           
    FRAZIERS WELL         1.66   611 PM  3/02                           
    TUSAYAN               1.53   610 PM  3/02                           
    GRAND CANYON AIRPORT  1.45   600 PM  3/02                           
    PARIA POINT (RAWS)    1.41   607 PM  3/02     
    PAGE AIRPORT          1.22   608 PM  3/02                           
    WUPATKI RAWS          1.11   625 PM  3/02
 Posted by at 7:03 am

Very wet start to March to continue today

 Winter Storms  Comments Off on Very wet start to March to continue today
Mar 022015
 

We received almost 2 inches of water yesterday. I’m surprised this wasn’t a record. It would have been a record on the day before or after. I think another inch could arrive today. I don’t think we will add much to the snowfall totals in Flagstaff. But if the temperatures are low enough, we could.

The winter storm warning is in effect. Radar shows a slow northward churning cold from to the west. It should arrive later this morning with plenty of water.

...THE FLAGSTAFF AZ AIRPORT CLIMATE SUMMARY FOR MARCH 1 2015...

CLIMATE NORMAL PERIOD 1981 TO 2010
CLIMATE RECORD PERIOD 1898 TO 2015


WEATHER ITEM   OBSERVED TIME   RECORD YEAR NORMAL DEPARTURE LAST
                VALUE   (LST)  VALUE       VALUE  FROM      YEAR
                                                  NORMAL
..................................................................
TEMPERATURE (F)
 YESTERDAY
  MAXIMUM         40   1137 PM  67    2009  47     -7       43
  MINIMUM         32   1041 AM -10    1997  21     11       32
  AVERAGE         36                        34      2

PRECIPITATION (IN)
  YESTERDAY        1.98          2.81 1970   0.08   1.90     1.09
  MONTH TO DATE    1.98                      0.08   1.90     1.09
  SINCE SEP 1     14.12                     11.96   2.16     8.80
  SINCE JAN 1      6.29                      4.29   2.00     1.69

SNOWFALL (IN)
  YESTERDAY        8.0          26.0  1970   0.7             0.7
  MONTH TO DATE    8.0                       0.7             0.7
  SINCE JUL 1     46.9                      73.9            34.2
  SNOW DEPTH       4
 Posted by at 6:46 am

Splash down!

 Northern Arizona Weather  Comments Off on Splash down!
Mar 012015
 

What a heavy wet mess, again. That’s twice in a week that a slush storm has wandered through Northern Arizona. More, a lot more, is on the way for Monday. See the Winter Storm Advisory from the National Weather Service in Flagstaff below.

I’m not sure about the temperature drop they are predicting. We may end up with another day like today. As always, a degree or two can make a huge difference between snow and rain amounts. Hope you have some nice boots!

URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FLAGSTAFF AZ
656 PM MST SUN MAR 1 2015

AZZ015-021000-
/O.CON.KFGZ.WS.W.0003.150302T1200Z-150303T0200Z/
WESTERN MOGOLLON RIM-
INCLUDING THE CITY OF...FLAGSTAFF
656 PM MST SUN MAR 1 2015

...WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 5 AM TO 7 PM MST
MONDAY ABOVE 6000 FEET...

* TIMING...SNOW IS FORECAST TO INCREASE MONDAY MORNING AROUND
  COMMUTE TIME AND CONTINUE...HEAVY AT TIMES...THROUGH EARLY
  MONDAY EVENING.

* GENERAL EVENT TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS...8 TO 15 INCHES ABOVE
  6000 FEET ELEVATION WITH 2 TO 3 FEET ABOVE 8500 FEET. SEE
  DETAILS BELOW OR CONSULT POINT SPECIFIC FORECAST AT:
  WEATHER.GOV/FLAGSTAFF.

* SNOWFALL FORECAST FROM 5 AM MST MONDAY UNTIL 7 PM MST MONDAY...

     DONEY PARK  4 TO 8  INCHES       FLAGSTAFF  6 TO 10 INCHES
       WILLIAMS  6 TO 10 INCHES

* OTHER IMPACTS...SNOW COVERED ROADS WILL CREATE DIFFICULT
  DRIVING CONDITIONS.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A WINTER STORM WARNING MEANS SEVERE WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE
EXPECTED OR OCCURRING...DUE TO SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF SNOW AND
STRONG WINDS PRODUCING LIMITED VISIBILITIES.

DRIVING WILL BE EXTREMELY DANGEROUS DURING THIS STORM. FOR THE
LATEST ROAD CONDITIONS AND CLOSURES...CALL THE ADOT FREEWAY
MANAGEMENT SYSTEM AT 1 888 411 7623 OR VISIT THEIR WEB SITE AT
WWW.AZ511.COM.

ADDITIONAL WEATHER INFORMATION IS ON THE WEB AT
WWW.WEATHER.GOV/FLAGSTAFF.
 Posted by at 7:28 pm

Okay, this looks real!

 Winter Storms  Comments Off on Okay, this looks real!
Feb 262015
 

Snow flurries are starting to fall this afternoon. They are a harbinger of a huge amount of water on the way. The current outlook is for rain tomorrow (Friday). Then snow through at least next Wednesday. Make your preparations now! Travel may be very difficult for the next week in the Northland. The outlook below from Wunderground has 19-30 inches of snow over the next week.

10-day weather outlook graphic from wunderground.com

10-day weather outlook graphic for Flagstaff, AZ from wunderground.com

The 3.5 and 7-day outlooks from the NAM and GFS models, respectively, match the wunderground outlook. The 3.5-day outlook has us in the 2 inch and above range. The 7-day outlook has us in the 3+ inch of water range. Stand by for warnings to be posted.

3.5 day total precipitation outlook from NOAA's NAM model.

3.5-day total precipitation outlook from NOAA’s NAM model.

Total 7-day precipitation outlook from NOAA's GFS Model

Total 7-day precipitation outlook from NOAA’s GFS Model.

 Posted by at 4:11 pm

I guess I missed this one…but maybe not

 Northern Arizona Weather, Winter Storms  Comments Off on I guess I missed this one…but maybe not
Feb 232015
 

I kept thinking this storm, and the one in the forecast for later in the week, would be have a similar story to the other ones this year. Their either wouldn’t materialize, or pass us by to the north. Even yesterday as things were getting started, a bypass to the north seemed reasonable. I thought we would have consistent weather patterns, at least until March. As Emerson said:

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.

So, it seems I missed this snow event.  It’s 33 degrees outside now. The dew point has bobbed around 32. The sun will come up soon and temperatures should drift slowly but surely above freezing. The National Weather Service is calling for up to 11 inches of snow in Flagstaff. There could very well be 11 inches by tomorrow morning. But, the ground is fairly warm, and the air temperatures are two. This will be a very wet, heavy snow.

I’m doubtful that we will see 11 inches in most places.

The other end of the week has a storm for us too. The storm door may finally open for us.

 Posted by at 6:36 am
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