The outlooks and computer models are solidifying around a wet March. It starts this weekend with a mild storm with light precipitation. The pattern builds through the month. The precipitation in the first two weeks of March could hit the monthly average. More details as the future storms are closer. Below is the 6-10 day, and one month outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center.
The computer models keep dropping a significant storm into the long-range forecast. If you look at the image from my last post, it shows significant precipitation around March 4, 2016. The forecasts do point to some precipitation this weekend, but not the large amount in that image. The problem is that the big storm is always just over the horizon. Below is the outlook for Monday, March 14. It’s almost identical to the image in my last post.
As we move away from a very warm and dry February, we have to wonder if March will fulfill its historic reputation for the wettest time of year. The computer models keep pointing to a change in the storm track that will push storms over Arizona. We will see. Not much to blog about when it’s sunny and warm.
Warm and dry has become the February story. The wet cold start has faded into sun and occasional high winds. There have be a few times the outlook was positive for wet conditions. It hasn’t happened.
Is it unusual for February to be dry during an El Niño winter. I think the data are pretty messy and there really isn’t enough to be very meaningful. Since 1950, the average for February precipitation in Flagstaff is about 2 inches. There are very wet and fairly dry Februaries during El Niño years.
Most of the areas that normally benefit from El Niños are benefiting this year. We continue to be way ahead on 12 and 24 month total precipitation.
The GFS model shows a possible weak storm at the end of the month, and a stronger storm at the start of March.
The 3 month outlook from the Climate Prediction Center continues to look positive from a precipitation point of view.
There is still time left this winter for more snow. March is typically the wettest month of the year. I think more is on the way.
I’ve looked at a new site for computer model data. I think the pictures are prettier than the US Government site. No surprise there. The snow fall pictures are purple and orange for this weekend. It looks like the Flagstaff groundhogs will have a bit of digging to do to get to above the snow on Groundhog Day. In the image below, Flagstaff has a big 12 printed on it.
The colors are definitely more dramatic. The reaction to this storm from the National Weather Service hasn’t been until tonight. This storm is going to be big. It has shown up in the computer models as a big storm for a while. Just on Friday evening did they get excited.
There could be local effects causing the total to be more or less than the forecast. This is especially true with the windy start to the storm.
I don’t know if a groundhog living in Flagstaff will see his shadow on February 2. But, it will see some fresh snow. Next Sunday and Monday should be snowy. For the last few days the GFS model has repeatedly shown snow for these days. The amounts have varied. Some model runs have over 1.5 inches of water. Some have only 3/4 inch of water.It’s simply too early to tell what the accumulation will be, but Flagstaff should get at least a few inches, it maybe be more than a foot.
El Nino years are often like this year. The storm track is split to the north and the south, but the southern track has often been below Arizona. When Flagstaff gets a storm, the storm amounts will be heavier than in other years. January has not been very snowy. But, the big storm earlier in the month covered the average amount, making any more snow above average. This next storm could be a big boost.
I’m looking at Wunderground‘s, the National Weather Services and Accuweather‘s precipitation forecasts. (The National Weather Service updated theirs while I wrote this post, it was roughly half of what it is now) Here’s how precipitation through Friday Morning looks:
National Weather Service 9-23 inches
Accuweather 8-20 inches
Wunderground 16-25 inches
The Wunderground forecast has been on the high-end. Maybe there isn’t a big difference. Does 8 inches feel much different from 16 inches? Does 25 inches look more wintry than 20 inches? The biggest forecast difference is probably tonight through Wednesday. Basically, plenty of snow is on the way.
One more note, Wunderground calls for rain on Friday.
December has been low on moisture compared to normal, and near normal for the average temperature. Low precipitation in an El Niño December probably is not very unusual. I’ll have to look. But, it all changes in the start of January. A series of storms is due next week. Arizona will get plenty of moisture with seasonal normal temperatures. Enjoy this week’s sun while it’s here.
Since moving to Germany last summer, I kept hearing stories about a man in Bavaria that could forecast the long-range winter weather with high accuracy. Over lunch last week, I got more of the details. Details that leave me wondering if his forecast method could work in Northern Arizona. I can’t remember anyone mentioning it to me in Arizona, but we have the necessary supplies to try it. Check out the picture below.
Does the plant in the photo look familiar?In North America, it is known as the Great Mullein. Some call it the Woolly Mullein because of its very fuzzy leaves. It’s native to Europe, but some consider it a noxious weed in Arizona.
Sepp Haslinger lives in or near a town call Bad Tolz which is at the base of the German Alps. He calls the plant a Wetterkerze, or weather candle. Bad Tolz is not far from Munich. The photo is from an article about him in the Merkur newspaper. Much like Flagstaff, the region depends on revenue from skiers and snowboarders. Therefore, a strong winter is important to the local economy. Herr Haslinger inspects the blooms on the candle-like Great Mullein to forecast the weather for the local region. He stresses it is only locally applicable. He claims a 90% historic accuracy. Like many mountain areas, the weather can very greatly over fairly short distances. Currently, he believes a white Christmas is unlikely in the region, but a long, hard, snowy winter is to follow after the New Year. I may have to try to connect with him sometime.
I am wondering if anyone has heard of this being done in Arizona? Please, drop me a note if you have.
I’m back in AZ for the next month. I’m comfortably in Phoenix for today’s expected snow. Those of you who have felt like it has been too warm and dry since mid-November, should hold on tight. It all ends. Temperatures are going to plummet. Snow is going to fall. A very large storm is possible before or during Christmas.
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
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