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
Aug 172014

In my last post, I pointed out that a drier period was ahead. What I had meant, and what the models foretold, was no rain for a week or so. That has not been the case. Thursday evening, a storm moved across the west side of Flagstaff dumping heavy rain across the area. Friday evening a storm hit central Flagstaff. I got about 1/3 of an inch of rain. I got more rain on Saturday, a mere 0.03 inches. This is drier than earlier in the week when I received over an inch.

This dry trend will continue for the next few days with a 30-60% chance of rain each day through Thursday. I think that in wet years, the forecast models run on the dry side, especially at long lead times. In dry years, they run on the wet side. The result is that more is on the way for this week.

 Posted by at 10:16 pm
Aug 112014

Last night we saw the first part of a wet week. This week, we should be inside the monsoonal flow. And, I think there is plenty of warm water to support an ongoing rainy season. The Pacific Coast of North American, all the way down to Central America is quite warm compared to normal. This can help with moisture supply to the Southwest.

Although the equatorial waters west of Peru seem warm, they have actually dropped. It still doesn’t look like the wind shift needed to support El Nino will happen. Stay tuned.

Global sea surface temperature anomaly, August 10, 2014. (National Centers for Environmental Prediction

Global sea surface temperature anomaly, August 10, 2014. (National Centers for Environmental Prediction)

 Posted by at 6:49 am
Jul 182014

This morning the Climate Prediction Center issued a new 90-day precipitation outlook. All of Arizona is in the above average precipitation zone.

Three-month precipitation outlook from the Climate Prediction Center.

Three-month precipitation outlook from the Climate Prediction Center.

 Posted by at 7:14 am
Jul 112014

The monsoonal flow will shift a bit to the east for today and the weekend. This means less rain for western Arizona. As you can see in the satellite water vapor image below, an orange knuckle of dry air has moved into the state. Not to worry, next week we should see more rain.

A lot of discussion, in one-on-one conversations and on the internet, about next winter’s El Nino.  Retired climate scientist Bob Tisdale has been tracking the development of the this year’s El Nino. You can visit his blog via that link to catch up on the deep details. As of his last update, the El Nino conditions seem to have not fully developed. It’s not just the temperatures that drive El Nino, it’s the winds. Currently, the trade winds haven’t shifted to sustain El Nino conditions. Stay tuned, it could still happen.

Water vapor image. Orange indicates dry air. From the National Weather Service.

Water vapor image. Orange indicates dry air. From the National Weather Service.

 Posted by at 6:25 am
Feb 022013

January 2013 was exceptionally cold and wet. It was the 16th coldest January since 1898. The 6th coldest since 1950. It was just Flagstaff, Prescott and Winslow were cold and wet, too.

While 2012 was a warm year by recent standards, the longer term temperature trend doesn’t look as warm and toasty.

departure january 2013

The good news is that it looks like February will be warmer than average.

 Posted by at 5:04 am
Jan 232013

Yesterday seemed absolutely beautiful and warm. Back to reality, the average temperature for the day was a single degree above normal. But, it was the first time in January that temperatures were above normal. For January, we are still 9 degrees below normal. There is good news and bad news with this warming trend.

The good news is near normal temperatures. The bad news is that the first storm system to move through at the end of this week and into the weekend will be warm. Snow levels will be high. Flagstaff will probably get rain, not snow. The first round won’t bring much moisture to Flagstaff. The moisture will scoot around to the west and east of us.

The second round will hit on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. This storm will be cooler and wetter. We will go back into the cold temperatures for this storm. Flagstaff could receive several inches of snow.

 Posted by at 6:58 am
Jan 162013

The National Weather Service has cut their warming outlook for the next few days. Their current forecast doesn’t have our temperatures rising to normal levels. Currently, their outlook has our highs reaching 43 F, and our lows in single digits. The high is near normal. The normal low is about 16 F. This leaves us 3-5 degrees below normal on the average. Other forecast outlets have our temperatures returning to near normal levels in a couple of days.

While not a record, the last 5 days are the coldest for 22 years. I think we are on our way to the coldest January since the 1980s.  From the National Weather Service –


 Posted by at 7:09 am
Jan 152013

It has been unusually cold, but it has been colder. The conversion point between above average to below average temperatures happened after the first week of December. A turn around is ahead.

Departure from normal temperatures(blue) and cumulative departure(orange) for December and January.Departure from normal temperatures and cumulative departure for December and January.

Departure from normal temperatures and cumulative departure for December and January.

The last couple days have been the coldest. But this is the deepest part of the could. After today, the forecast is for temperatures to return to near normal levels. If we stay near normal for the rest of the month, we will end up 4.5-5 degrees below normal for the month. This is significant, but I doubt it will be a record breaker.

Over night lows will remain very cold below 20 degrees. Moisture will be scarce to non-existent for the rest of the month. Clear night skies will continue to hold the overnight temperatures to low levels. It’s going to be very dry.

 Posted by at 7:01 am
Jan 102013

You may have heard that 2012 was the warmest, or one of the warmest on record. Probably not completely accurate, but absolute statements rarely are. But now, we are looking at a very cold January, about 7 degrees below normal so far, and even colder weather on the way for the next week or so. As a result of all this news, I started wondering about looking back into Flagstaff’s long-term temperature trends.

There are two temperature databases I have used to prepare this post. First, I used the 1950 – 2005 temperature database for the Flagstaff Airport from the Western Regional Climate Center. If you ever wonder about an Arizona location’s climate data, give their site a glance. Second, I used the Preliminary Monthly Climate Report from the National Weather Service’s Flagstaff Climate page. However, you will notice that this database only goes back to 2008. I have downloaded and recorded their data back to 2004. For 2004 and 2005, the databases are closely matched.

I looked at the annual average temperature from both datasets. Here is the resulting graph.

Flagstaff's average annual temperatures for 1950 to 2012

Flagstaff’s average annual temperatures for 1950 to 2012. See text of article for data sources.

First, 2012 wasn’t the warmest year during this time. It’s the fourth warmest according to these temperature records. When I look at this data, it seems that the temperature trend for the last 20 years have been fairly constant. Also, the first 20 years of this record seem fairly constant. I applied a 3rd degree polynomial trend line to this data using Microsoft Excel’s function. This produces an interesting result.


Flagstaff's average annual temperatures for 1950 to 2012 with trendline

Flagstaff’s average annual temperatures for 1950 to 2012 with trendline

How are Januaries trending compared to the annual numbers? They look very similar to the annual temperatures.


Flagstaff's average annual and January temperatures for 1950 to 2012 with trendline

Flagstaff’s average annual and January temperatures for 1950 to 2012 with trendline 

The year to year variability is roughly on the same scale as any long-term trend. In the past, I have written about the concerns that many solar science experts have about the current and future solar cycles. The current cycle has had a lower than expected level of activity and a much decrease. Predictions for the next two cycles are for weaker conditions. This could result in a 30-50 year cooling trend for everyone, including us. Which will win, anthropogenic global warming or a cold star?

Looks more and more like we could get more than a couple of inches of snow over the next few days. It will be windy and much cooler. If you need to do anything outdoors, do it today.

 Posted by at 8:33 am
3 visitors online now
1 guests, 2 bots, 0 members
Max visitors today: 4 at 12:03 am UTC
This month: 14 at 04-05-2015 03:12 pm UTC
This year: 18 at 02-26-2015 07:31 pm UTC
All time: 1611 at 04-27-2012 06:53 pm UTC

Social Widgets powered by