Jul 252013
 

Last night storm movement took on a southerly direction. As a result, a few storms treated Flagstaff residents to a strong lightning show with a good dose of rain. From looking at the radar images in the middle of the night, I think the southerly flow provided the lift over the San Francisco Peaks to generate storms. It was enough to push me past the 5 inch level for precipitation at my house this month. A quick look at the weather record for Flagstaff shows that only 1964 and 1986 had precipitation totals for July of more than 5 inches. But, will it last. In 1964, the following August was drier, and closer to normal. In 1986, August was wetter with about 8 inches.

The drying trend out in the future is looking more likely as we move forward. Early next week it looks like drier air will move into the Northern Arizona area. Even if the rains stopped now, we would be close to an average monsoon season for rainfall. Persistent moisture in the area is responsible. It will be interesting to see how wet or dry we are in August. Here is the Flagstaff dewpoint temperature history for this summer from the National Weather Service office in Tucson.

Monsoon daily dewpoint tracker for Flagstaff from the National Weather Service in Tucson

Monsoon daily dewpoint tracker for Flagstaff from the National Weather Service in Tucson

I don’t remember such a sustained, above average dewpoint history. The red is the average dewpoint temperatures for 1962-2010. I thinks is fairly rare that we are above 50F. Yes, it has been wet and potentially uncomfortable when warm.

TR reminded me that the connection between dewpoint and humidity isn’t in the forefront of people’s minds. The dewpoint temperature is the temperature below which dew will form. This temperature is dependent on the moisture content of the air. Humidity is the water content of the air compared to how much water vapor the air can hold. As air warms, it can hold more water vapor, so the humidity for a given dewpoint temperature actually drops. If our dew point temperature is 55F, we would have 100% humidity at an air temperature of 55F. At an air temperature of 75F and a dewpoint of 55F, our humidity would be 50%. High temperature, same amount of water equals lower humidity.

The bottom line is that it has felt more like the East Coast than Arizona lately because it so wet.

 

 

 Posted by at 7:07 am
Jan 292013
 

But the real story yesterday was the pathetic condition of our roads in Flagstaff. The ice in the morning caused hundreds of near misses, plenty of car accidents and a number of slips and falls with injuries. Everything was wet, then the temperature dropped. I was out and about at just before 5 am and couldn’t believe I didn’t see a single salt or cinder truck in town. Same at 6:30 am. After 7am they started to show up. Where the heck were they? The city just isn’t supplying the service they have in the past.

What was the school system thinking? Not even a two-hour delay? Ever seen the rear end of a school bus start to slip and head straight for your car? Enough of the ranting.

The 6-14 day outlooks seem to keep the moisture coming to us. I think temperatures might be similar to last weekend and much of this could fall as rain. The first round will be late this weekend and may only bring light precipitation amounts.

6-10 day precipitation outlook from the Climate Prediction Center

6-10 day precipitation outlook from the Climate Prediction Center

 

8-14 day precipitation outlook from the Climate Prediction Center.

8-14 day precipitation outlook from the Climate Prediction Center.

 

 Posted by at 6:59 am
Dec 182012
 

Let’s deal with today very quickly. It’s going to snow tonight. Once again, there is a chance it will start around rush hour in Flagstaff. We will get 3-8 inches. Altitude will play an important role as to how much different spots receive. Today’s weather story, from the National Weather Service, nicely maps the situation.

Weather Story from National Weather Service, 12-18-2012

Weather Story from National Weather Service, 12-18-2012

More importantly, We are on track for a real WHITE CHRISTMAS!!! It’s a long ways out, and the NoGAPs model doesn’t agree, but it has consistently been in the AccuWeather, Intellicast and Wunderground forecasts, the GFS model and the GEFS model. Christmas is still a week away, but 4-8 inches could become a reality.

GFS 48-hour precipitation model ending 5pm, December 25, 2012

GFS 48-hour precipitation model ending 5pm, December 25, 2012

 Posted by at 6:54 am

Winter Outlook

 Outlooks  Comments Off
Oct 302012
 

I’ve scratched my head about this winter. Without a strong El Nino or La Nina, there isn’t an overriding stimulus for wet and warm or dry and cold, or any other combination. Looks like anything could happen. I just don’t know.

The National Weather Service is much more adept at saying the same thing. When they say it, they sound very competent. Here is a link to their winter outlook slide show. They did a very nice job with the information. The narrator could use some life in his voice. It’s okay to enjoy talking about the weather.

For translation purposes, “Equal Chances” mean “I just don’t know.”

NOAA Winter Precipitation Outlook 2012-13

NOAA Winter Precipitation Outlook 2012-13

 Posted by at 6:44 am
Sep 252012
 

An El Nino had built all summer in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean. Last week the 3 Month Outlook at the Climate Prediction  Center was update to forecast normal condition for the next 3 months. The outlook had been for above normal conditions.

3-month precipitation outlook from the Climate Prediction Center

3-month precipitation outlook from the Climate Prediction Center

I started to wonder about the cause of the change. Then I saw a post from Dr. Bob Tisdale at the University of Alabama: Hey, Where’d El Nino Go?

I toook a look at the update Pacific temperatures and anomalies graph at the Climate Prediction Center. As you can see in the graph below, El Nino had been persistent until recently. In the last few frames of the animation below, the El Nino pattern dissipates, but a warm area near Central America is left behind.

Global sea surface temperatures and anomalies - Climate Prediction Center

Global sea surface temperatures and anomalies – Climate Prediction Center

At this point, it looks like we have seen an unusual early demise of an El Nino. Maybe the warm water off the coast of Central America will be a good moisture supply for this winter. I don’t know.

 

 Posted by at 6:51 am
Aug 042012
 

The pattern for July was very strong and provided much needed, always needed, rain to most of Arizona. There were still some dry spots, but otherwise, July was wet. The middle of the US was not so lucky and is suffering an intense and extended drought.

Very intense high pressure has dominated the middle of the country. In the Northern Hemisphere, high pressure systems have a clockwise flow. This strong high pressure has ensured a constant flow of moisture from the tropics into Arizona. This wet pattern is now projected to continue into the fall.

Here is an animated gif from the Climate Prediction Center showing the precipitation outlook for the 6-10 day, 8-14 day, 1 month and 3 month periods. Notice in the fall, a slight shift to the southwest occurs. I think this is probably due to the mild El Nino effect. This is not a strong El Nino and may not have a large, lasting effect. Currently, we are in a lull with much less storm activity since the heavy storms on Tuesday evening. This shouldn't last and we will have more rain on the way.

Animated gif of the Climate Prediction Center's 6-10 day, 8-14 day, 1 month and 3 month precipitation outlooks. From Friday August 3, 2012.

Animated gif of the Climate Prediction Center's 6-10 day, 8-14 day, 1 month and 3 month precipitation outlooks. From Friday August 3, 2012.

On a separate note, my weather station software is not interfacing with my WMR200 very nicely. I may need to shift to a new software. Messing with the weather station has used up my free time and limited my time for the blog. Hopefully, I will get it resolved soon.

 Posted by at 7:58 am
Jul 192012
 

This is the Drought Outlook from the Climate Prediction Center. They posted it today, July 19, 2012. The good news is that for the outlook period, now through October 19, 2012, Arizona should see great improvement. The rest of the country isn’t looking as good.

Seasonal Drought Outlook from the Climate Prediction Center - July 19, 2012

Seasonal Drought Outlook from the Climate Prediction Center – July 19, 2012

Starting tomorrow and through early next week, thunderstorm activity will rise to a stable monsoonal level.

 Posted by at 6:37 pm
Jul 082012
 

Here we are on July 8 and no real rainfall to show. Here is the month to date rainfall map for our area from rainlog.org. Flagstaff has missed out on the precipitation so far.

Month to date rainfall for our area from rainlog.org at the University of Arizona

Month to date rainfall for our area from rainlog.org at the University of Arizona

Our dewpoint temperatures have oscillated and are currently down in the lower 30′s this morning. You can see my dew point temperature graph on the right sidebar. The good news is that the Climate Prediction Center continues to provide a wetter than average outlook for us. Below is a animation of the 6-10 day, 8-14-day, 1 month and 3 month outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center on Friday afternoon.

Animation of 6-10 day, 8-14 day, 1 month and 3 month precipitation outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center on July 6, 2012.

Animation of 6-10 day, 8-14 day, 1 month and 3 month precipitation outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center on July 6, 2012.

Although they predict a wetter pattern for us, there are two things to remember. First, monsoon seasons are hit or miss. We’ve been completely dry, but Prescott has had some nice rainfall totals. Second, El Nino is building. El Nino can cause winds to shear across the tropics and carry our moisture away shortening our monsoon season. Currently,the consensus predictions have this El Nino remaining weak. We can only wait and see.

 Posted by at 6:33 am
Apr 042012
 

Just when I condemn us to a dry spring, the GFS and NoGAPs Models align around a storm for next week. It’s unusual for both models to align at long time points. In the current case, both are predicting a significant storm around next Wednesday or Thursday. NoGAPs predicts the storm’s arrival 6-12 hours earlier than GFS. We will see.

We have wind on tap for the next few days

NoGAPs precipitation forecast for Wednesday afternoon, April 11, 2012

NoGAPs precipitation forecast for Wednesday afternoon, April 11, 2012

 Posted by at 6:37 am
Apr 022012
 
National Weather Service's Weather Story for Monday, April 2, 2012

National Weather Service's Weather Story for Monday, April 2, 2012

I think this is the pattern we will see for the spring. Warmer than average sunny periods interrupted by strong windy periods. As it persists, conditions become drier and drier. Which brings us to the fire season.

Campfires Limited has their website up and running (http://campfirelimited.com) I think we all remember the Shultz Pass Fire from the summer of 2010. It was most likely caused by the remnants of a campfire. Stop by their site. Buy a bumper sticker. Here a picture to stir your memory. If that’s not enough, take a drive out by the east side of the peaks and look at the damage first hand.

View of the Shultz Pass Fire as I travelled back to Flagstaff on Highway 89. It was only a few hours old at this point on Sunday afternoon, June 20, 2010.

View of the Shultz Pass Fire as I travelled back to Flagstaff on Highway 89. It was only a few hours old at this point on Sunday afternoon, June 20, 2010.

 Posted by at 6:47 am
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