Stu

Dec 302014
 

There is a winter storm warning posted for Flagstaff. It is below. But, what if it didn’t come together as promised. Is that even possible? The National Weather Service has the following forecast for downtown Flagstaff:

nwsforecastIf you add up the snowfall amounts from Wednesday to Thursday, the totals come to 7-14 inches. This is in the 1 inch of water range. I think this could happen and that it is important for the National Weather Service to project it. They are responsible for helping us prepare for bad weather. Hats off to them for being very active in the social media about this storm.

The problem is that this storm is heavily dependent on timing. The low pressure system needs to develop over Arizona at the same time that a burst of moisture makes its way up to Arizona from the tropics. After watching the computer models over the last few days, I am very tempted to side with AccuWeather‘s slightly lower forecast of 5-12 inches or even Wunderground‘s lower forecast of 5-8 inches. Most of the models are heading in the 3/4’s of an inch of water range which fits the lower predictions. Still, I am concerned that everything will come together, but over Eastern Arizona, not Central Arizona.

I recommend taking this storm seriously. It could be our biggest one for the season.

URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FLAGSTAFF AZ
523 AM MST TUE DEC 30 2014

AZZ004>009-015-016-018-037-038-302230-
/O.NEW.KFGZ.WS.W.0001.141231T1200Z-150102T0000Z/
KAIBAB PLATEAU-MARBLE AND GLEN CANYONS-GRAND CANYON COUNTRY-
COCONINO PLATEAU-YAVAPAI COUNTY MOUNTAINS-
NORTHEAST PLATEAUS AND MESAS HWY 264 NORTHWARD-
WESTERN MOGOLLON RIM-EASTERN MOGOLLON RIM-NORTHERN GILA COUNTY-
YAVAPAI COUNTY VALLEYS AND BASINS-OAK CREEK AND SYCAMORE CANYONS-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...FREDONIA...PAGE...
GRAND CANYON VILLAGE...SUPAI...PRESCOTT...FLAGSTAFF...PAYSON...
SEDONA
523 AM MST TUE DEC 30 2014

...WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 5 AM WEDNESDAY TO 5 PM MST
THURSDAY FOR NORTHWEST ARIZONA ABOVE 3500 FEET ELEVATION...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN FLAGSTAFF HAS ISSUED A WINTER
STORM WARNING FOR HEAVY SNOW...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 5 AM
WEDNESDAY TO 5 PM MST THURSDAY.

* TIMING...WIDESPREAD SNOW WILL INCREASE FROM WEST TO EAST
  ON WEDNESDAY. THE HEAVIEST SNOW IS EXPECTED TO FALL FROM
  MID MORNING WEDNESDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY NIGHT...TAPERING OFF
  TO SHOWERS ON THURSDAY.

* GENERAL EVENT TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS...6-14 INCHES ARE
  EXPECTED AT ELEVATIONS ABOVE 5000 FEET IN THE WARNED
  AREA...WITH 2-6 INCHES BELOW 5000 FEET.

* SNOWFALL FORECAST FROM 5 AM MST WEDNESDAY UNTIL 5 PM MST
  THURSDAY...

   CHINO VALLEY  4 TO 6  INCHES      COTTONWOOD  1 TO 3  INCHES
     DONEY PARK  7 TO 11 INCHES       FLAGSTAFF  9 TO 13 INCHES
   FOREST LAKES 13 TO 19 INCHES        FREDONIA  4 TO 8  INCHES
   GRAND CANYON  9 TO 13 INCHES HEBER-OVERGAARD  6 TO 10 INCHES
     JACOB LAKE  9 TO 15 INCHES            PAGE  4 TO 6  INCHES
        PAULDEN  4 TO 6  INCHES          PAYSON  5 TO 9  INCHES
PINE-STRAWBERRY  8 TO 12 INCHES PRESCOTT VALLEY  4 TO 8  INCHES
       PRESCOTT  4 TO 8  INCHES          SEDONA  3 TO 6  INCHES
       SELIGMAN  5 TO 9  INCHES           VALLE  6 TO 10 INCHES
       WILLIAMS  9 TO 15 INCHES

* OTHER IMPACTS...THIS IS A COLD SYSTEM...AND SNOW WILL FALL TO
  THE VALLEY FLOORS BY THURSDAY MORNING. BE PREPARED FOR HAZARDOUS
  WINTER DRIVING CONDITIONS ON ALL ROADS IN NORTHERN ARIZONA
  DURING THIS EVENT.

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 6:43 am

Snow and Other News of Moisture

 Northern Arizona Weather  Comments Off on Snow and Other News of Moisture
Dec 242014
 

Over the last week or so, the GFS models have had a snow drifting in and out of the forecast for tomorrow. Currently, snow is back in the forecast for tomorrow, along with cooler temperatures. But, the storm is coming down from the north. This is not a typical storm pattern, and is very different from the storm track that kept us wet at the start of December. We shouldn’t receive much Christmas snow, but temperatures are going to plummet from our balmy 50+ degree highs today.

I think the current storm track makes the 30-day and 3-month outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center seem odd. The current track is fairly dry. It’s not drawing on the moisture that the warm equatorial Pacific waters should provide. Still, the outlooks have above average moisture for the next 3 months.

We should not expect a significant El Nino for this winter, too. The shift in the winds at the equator is not yet sustained. There is still warm water down off the coast of Peru, but it needs the winds to shift to sustain it.

One and 3-month precipitation outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center.

One and 3-month precipitation outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center.

 Posted by at 1:49 pm

Wet December continues today

 Northern Arizona Weather, Winter Storms  Comments Off on Wet December continues today
Dec 162014
 

More water is on its way. We are about an inch and a half above average precipitation for December. Most of this has fallen as rain. This next round of precipitation is causing a conundrum. The models keep drifting. The weather forecasts have often changed. I think I saw one forecast last night that claimed 4-8 inches for Wednesday. Now, the forecasts are in the 1-3 inches here, 1-2 inches there range.

The computer models still have a fair amount of precipitation in them. We’ll have to wait and see on this one. We could get surprised.

It looks like the next storm is about a week behind this one.

 Posted by at 5:41 am

California drought to end, We get a wet pattern

 Northern Arizona Weather  Comments Off on California drought to end, We get a wet pattern
Dec 122014
 

The storm door is opening up. California should get battered with tons of tropical moisture being drawn up from the south. We will get a healthy supply of leftovers. Then, in the middle of next week, another storm should roll our way. In the map below, up to an inch of water could fall in parts of Arizona. Many places will have snow. Also, be aware of rain falling and freezing on roadways.

84-hour North American Mesoscale precipitation forecast from the Climate Prediction Center. (December 12, 2014)

84-hour North American Mesoscale precipitation forecast from the Climate Prediction Center. (December 12, 2014) The Trilateral Commission meetings are now Wednesdays evenings at Flag Brewery.

 Posted by at 11:58 am

Please stop with the conspiracy theories!

 Climate, Conspiracies  Comments Off on Please stop with the conspiracy theories!
Dec 102014
 

Folks, look. We live in Northern Arizona, not Night Vale. The recent earthquakes (I think there were a total of 3 around Oak Creek Canyon) have no direct connection to the recent foggy weather. Earthquakes are in the ground. Fog is in the air. So, please take a deep breath and drive carefully.

We should see a couple of storms roll through over the next week. With each, we should have some rain and some snow in Flagstaff. I think Snowbowl should get some very nice snow out of it.

UPDATE 8:23pm, 12-10-2014 – If everyone could just calm down. Reading alternate meanings into my use of the word “direct” is not worth your time. There is no link. The government didn’t cause the earthquake. Nobody is fracking under Sedona. There is no fog-earthquake connection. Please, no more emails on this topic tonight. Thanks.

Second UPDATE 5:58am, 12-11-2014 – Seriously, Night Vale is a fictional podcast. It is not real. It is not about Flagstaff. Snowmaking at Snowbowl did not cause the Sedona Earthquakes. Snowmaking isn’t causing the fog, either.

 

 Posted by at 7:08 pm

Fog, again

 Northern Arizona Weather  Comments Off on Fog, again
Dec 092014
 

Last week, we received plenty of rain. The ground is still wet. We call this particular fog radiation fog. It’s not because it’s radioactive.

Under clear skies at night, heat radiates from the surface of the earth to deep space in the infrared spectrum. This allows everything near ground level to cool. With the ground being wet, and very little wind, the dew point temperatures remain high. When the cooling occurs at night, some of the water in the air condenses producing fog.

Below is a weather story article from the National Weather Service.

Friday through Sunday will be wet again. It’s not clear to me whether we will get more rain than snow.

Weather Story from the National Weather Service in Flagstaff (December 8, 2014)

Weather Story from the National Weather Service in Flagstaff (December 8, 2014)

 

 Posted by at 6:17 am

Warm and wet

 Northern Arizona Weather  Comments Off on Warm and wet
Dec 062014
 

California is looking forward to leaving their current drought behind. We should have another storm move through at the end of next week. But almost all of North America is looking forward to above average temperatures for the next week or two. Below is the 6-10 day temperature outlook from the Climate Prediction Center.  This trend could make the early ski season a bit slushy.

6-10 Temperature outlook from the CLimate Prediction Center (December 5, 2014)

6-10 Temperature outlook from the CLimate Prediction Center (December 5, 2014)

 Posted by at 12:51 pm

Wet, not snow pattern ahead

 Winter Storms  Comments Off on Wet, not snow pattern ahead
Dec 022014
 

Things have continued to develop. Temperatures in Flagstaff are going to stay above normal for the next few days. The cut-off low pressure system I thought we would have this week is melting. We will get some precipitation in the form of rain.

Longer term, the storm track should develop and drop to the south in the next couple weeks.

 Posted by at 8:17 am

Where’s the freaking snow?

 Northern Arizona Weather, Outlooks, Winter Storms  Comments Off on Where’s the freaking snow?
Nov 252014
 

I laugh quietly to myself with that headline. It’s not even Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving will be beautiful. We have a bit of time before we should expect snow. But only a bit. I wonder what price we will pay for a beautiful Thanksgiving?

I don’t think we will have a foot of snow next week. But it might be pretty close. A large, strong Alaskan storm system will drop south to the California coast, then take off towards the east. The NoGAPs image below shows the storm drawing plenty of tropical moisture towards Arizona. All of the forecasting websites I check are very well aligned around a storm next week. For now, I think accumulations will stay below a foot of snow for most of Northern Arizona. Depending on temperatures, we may start with rain. Keep in mind, it is still over a week away. Everything can change, but the current alignment is remarkable.

This storm is right on plan with the new 1 and 3 month precipitation outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center shown below. I think we are a bit beyond whether this winter will be an El Nino winter or not. These outlooks predict above average precipitation for us.

Eastern Pacific precipitation outlook for Tuesday Morning, December 2, 2014

Eastern Pacific precipitation outlook for Tuesday Morning, December 2, 2014

One month precipitation outlook from the Climate Predication Center. November 20, 2014

One month precipitation outlook from the Climate Predication Center. November 20, 2014

Three month precipitation outlook from the Climate Prediction Center. (November 20, 2014)

Three month precipitation outlook from the Climate Prediction Center. (November 20, 2014)

 Posted by at 6:44 am

Differences in Forecasts

 Outlooks  Comments Off on Differences in Forecasts
Nov 132014
 

Or, will we see rain Friday night.

Over the last week, the homegrown forecast at Wunderground.com has included a 30-40% chance of rain for Friday. No place else has been as consistent. All of the computer models(GFS, NoGAPs, NAM) have not shown rain until today. I can not remember another time where this has been the case. Yesterday, the National Weather Service predicted a 10% chance. This morning they have accelerated that to 30%.

So, we will see. Did Wunderground get it right? Are they ahead of the pack?

 Posted by at 6:35 am
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