Strong start to Monsoon Season on the way

 Climate, Monsoon, Northern Arizona Weather  Comments Off on Strong start to Monsoon Season on the way
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

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

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

What did I mean by drier?

 Climate, Models, Monsoon, Northern Arizona Weather, Outlooks  Comments Off on What did I mean by drier?
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

Plenty of warm water

 Climate, El Nino/La Nina, Monsoon, Northern Arizona Weather  Comments Off on Plenty of warm water
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

Good news in fresh 90-day outlook

 Climate, Models, Monsoon, Outlooks  Comments Off on Good news in fresh 90-day outlook
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

El Nino? Drier weekend ahead

 Climate, El Nino/La Nina, Monsoon, Northern Arizona Weather  Comments Off on El Nino? Drier weekend ahead
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

Sixth Coldest January

 Climate, Northern Arizona Weather  Comments Off on Sixth Coldest January
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

Storm door to open up

 Climate, Northern Arizona Weather, Winter Storms  Comments Off on Storm door to open up
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
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