Jun 112014

The Arizona Daily Sun published this article over the weekend: Forecasters: Wet Summer and Winter likely in Flagstaff. This article hints at El Nino as the cause for both extra rainfall this summer and more snow next winter. About a month ago I started to look into El Nino’s effects on Flagstaff’s summer precipitation. My hypothesis was that El Nino actually lowered rainfall amounts in the summer.

Digging into the data since 1950, there really isn’t much difference between the over all normal for 1950-2010 and any of the El Nino averages based on the strength of the El Nino. There are huge swings in the summer (June-September) rainfall amounts. Just to make the point, The El Ninos of 1957 and 1982 are both strong. They produce 4.81 and 13.42 inches of rainfall. The El Ninos of 1986 and 1991 are both moderate strength. They produced 20.64 and 3.53 inches of rainfall. The weak ones are all around 7-8 inches of rain. It looks like anything goes with El Nino Summers.

There is more than just El Nino driving the events for the year. The Climate Prediction Center still has Flagstaff in the above average rainfall zone for the summer. They should have an updated model later this week.

On a side note, I noticed last night that had a thunderstorm in the long-range outlook for Flagstaff on June 24. It’s gone this morning.

June July August September Total
El Nino average 0.41 2.33 3.02 2.11 7.87
1950-2010 average 0.43 2.4 2.89 2.12 7.84
Strong El Nino Average 0.86 1.78 2.37 3.22 8.22
Moderate El Nino Average 0.28 2.59 3.38 1.72 7.97
Weak El Nino Average 0.15 2.42 3.05 1.61 7.23
1950-2010 average 7.7
 Posted by at 7:01 am
Jun 102014

It’s still nearly a week away, but next Sunday and Monday could be rather wet if the US Navy NoGAPs forecast is correct. This storm doesn’t show up in the GFS forecast, but there is something weak in the Global Ensemble forecast. We will see.

US Navy NoGAPs computer model for Sunday afternoon June 13, 2014

US Navy NoGAPs computer model for Sunday afternoon June 13, 2014

 Posted by at 6:35 am
May 252014

With a fire at this time of year, it’s natural to look at the calendar and think about how long until monsoon season, and will it be a good one. The Climate Prediction Center has Flagstaff inside the above normal region for the June-August and the July-September 3-month precipitation outlooks(see below). The current June outlook has us at even chances for normal precipitation.

A particularly interesting part of the monsoon season is Eastern Pacific hurricanes and tropical storms. These can bring exceptional moisture to Arizona. Hurricane season for the Eastern Pacific start on May 15th. Hurricanes do not usually form in May in this region, but they can. If they do form, they usually wander around the coast of Southern Mexico or drift straight out to the west. This year, we have our first storm, Hurricane Amanda. The computer models show Amanda moving up the West Coast and bringing moisture to Arizona by late in the week. It is still 5-7 days out, but it could at least help keep our temperatures lower and out humidity higher for a while.

One last note: The Climate Prediction Center issued an El Nino watch. The current outlooks show a strengthening El Nino that could be quite strong for next year. My current question is whether this could derail our monsoon season.

3-Month precipitation outlook for July, August and September from the Climate Prediction Center.

3-Month precipitation outlook for July, August and September from the Climate Prediction Center.

3-month precipitation outlook from the Climate prediction Center for June, July and August.

3-month precipitation outlook from the Climate prediction Center for June, July and August.

 Posted by at 4:55 am
May 242014

I haven’t posted for nearly a month. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that dry, windy conditions just aren’t that interesting. Their normal for this time of year and we should expect it. Second, I have had a couple of long international trips in the last month. One for business. One for pleasure. I’m thinking about moving the blog to, or It would save me some money and time. We’ll see.

I thought about blogging about the Slide Fire over the last few days, but haven’t for two reasons. First, I drove to Phoenix for work on Tuesday night. So, I haven’t experienced the events related too it. It sounds quite uncomfortable. Ash falling from the sky and smoke filling your lungs must stimulate our most basic survival instincts. Second, I couldn’t make heads or tails out of what was really happening. A particular friend provided the clearest details. But, on Wednesday, I heard conflicting stories about Kachina Village all day long. As well, I couldn’t figure out where to point people for the best information on the fire. I’m still wondering today.

I think the Inciweb site for the Slide Fire is the most up to date, but even this morning the most recent update is 12 hours old. And, that update doesn’t add much information.

Good news, bad news. Good news, temperatures and winds have dropped while moisture has increased. Bad news, this could cause thunderstorms. These thunderstorms may produce lightning without much rain. That could cause more fires in the area.

Hats off to the teams fighting the fire. Seems like this could have been much worse. Their skill and courage protect us.

 Posted by at 8:33 am
Apr 252014

This weekend will be another cooler, wetter weekend. The precipitation forecast in the North American Mesoscale model shows Flagstaff in the one-half to three-quarters of an inch of precipitation zone. This could be the most significant storm in months. We should see mostly unfrozen precipitation, but if temperatures are low enough, some very temporary snow accumulation is possible.

North American Mesoscale model precipitation outlook through Sunday morning. From the Climate Prediction Center.

North American Mesoscale model precipitation outlook through Sunday morning. From the Climate Prediction Center.

 Posted by at 6:37 am
Apr 222014

I noticed the new 3-month outlook from the Climate Prediction Center. For May, June and July, they are forecasting above average precipitation for the 4-corners region. Flagstaff is at the edge of the “green” zone. The questions I have are about the emerging potential for an El Nino building over the summer. I don’t think El Nino summers are very wet, but I need to look at some data and haven’t had the time.

For now, this weekend looks wet and cool. We need the water.


3-month(May-July) precipitation outlook from the Climate Prediction Center.

 Posted by at 6:43 am
Apr 172014

Well, a small chance of scatter showers looks pretty good now. But, the reality is that we won’t see much precipitation. For most of the Easter Weekend, we will have clouds and cooler temperatures and occasionally light rain. It’s very dry out there.


84 hour total precipitation NAM outlook from the Climate Prediction Center.

 Posted by at 6:55 am
Apr 072014

I haven’t written much lately. Mostly because our weather continues as mostly unremarkable and harmless. As warm and dry as it has been, we haven’t really set any significant records. This morning, our temperatures are in the mid-40s, roughly 20 degrees above normal. The next few days should have low winds, and plenty of sunshine. Next weekend, we have some showers.

Looking way out, there may be a chance that next winter will be a strong El Nino winter. Don’t hold your breath.

 Posted by at 6:39 am
Mar 312014

The computer models don’t agree and are not even consistent between runs. It looks like an April Fool’s Day joke. Back in 1999, we had a similar experience. Beautiful, above average temperatures and sunshine were in the forecast for April 1. On the afternoon of March 31, it started to snow. I remember because my wife and I were buying a used Ford Bronco that afternoon. It snowed for the next 4 days. You can review that week at Wunderground. Temperatures dropped into the 20s and stayed there. Stay tuned.

It’s been windy lately, which is typical for spring time. Yesterday, it was very windy. I usually don’t look at wind that much. But yesterday was superlative. From the National Weather Service:

 800 PM MST SUN MAR 30 2014




 KYKOTSMOVI         67
 FLAGSTAFF          63
 GRAND CANYON       60
 WINDOW ROCK        59
 NAVAJO NM          56
 PARIA POINT        54 
 WINSLOW            54
 SAINT JOHNS        53
 WILLIAMS           53
 SHOW LOW           52
 PAGE               48
 HEBER              48
 PRESCOTT           47
 COTTONWOOD         47
 PAULDEN            46
 SEDONA             44


 Posted by at 5:22 am
Mar 122014

For the last week or so, the computer models have generated a storm forming to the east of Flagstaff tomorrow. This morning, everything seems to have changed. We are now looking at a nice round of rain and snow for tomorrow. Even though the storm appears pretty strong in the models, the National Weather Service is only projecting a 40-50% chance of precipitation. Here is the North American Mesoscale model of precipitation for the next couple days.

North American Mesoscale Model forecast for precipitation between today and Friday evening. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center

North American Mesoscale Model forecast for precipitation between today and Friday evening. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center


 Posted by at 8:13 am
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