Tag Archives: El Nino

A Fresh Coat

Mt. Lemmon, February 6, 2008
Let it snow…

Another storm system approacheth Arizona as El Nino continues to flex.  This storm is much weaker than the last two, but we should still get a fresh coat of snow above 6,000 feet.  From the National Weather Service:


The road to Mt. Lemmon FINALLY opened today after a couple three feet of snow from the last two storms.  Maybe another shut down after tonight/tomorrow’s storm but the skiing at Ski Valley probably hasn’t been this good in years, maybe decades!

Meanwhile, I hear that because of the recent power outages on the mountain, no credit or debit cards can be accepted.  Kinda crazy.  If you go, have fun!  Maybe I can join you, but I doubt it any time soon.  The good news is it will take a LONG time for this snow to melt, and with El Nino still going strong, it’s more likely we will add more before this Winter is done.

High Wind and Blizzard Warning!

Ski Valley on Mt. Lemmon, February 2008
Ski Valley on Mt. Lemmon

A robust storm, as it were, is barreling toward Arizona and the effects across the area promise to be dramatic.  The headline is the strong wind.  A strong southerly jet stream is driving this strong storm and the combination will translate into very strong winds in the lower elevations and even stronger winds higher up.  Gusts to 55 mph by this afternoon will be likely in the Tucson area and gusts to near 70 mph are possible in the mountains.  That’s why the National Weather Service has issued a HIGH WIND WARNING  from 11 this morning until 2am Friday.

Tonight is when the main impact of the storm will be felt.  Normally winds will decrease at night because you lose the mixing of the atmosphere leaving the strongest winds above your head.  Tonight that may not be the case as scattered thunderstorms will have the capability of pulling some of those higher winds down to the surface.  It’s possible that the high winds won’t decrease tonight at all.

Last time we had winds this strong there was a fatal pileup on Interstate 10 near Casa Grande.  Thankfully we had some rain yesterday morning and again this morning.  I’m hoping that the rain we’ve had combined with what is coming will be enough to keep the dust down.  Still, caution should always be observed driving on the Interstate near those usual blowing dust areas.  Also high profile vehicles may have difficulty with this wind.  Definitely a two hands on the wheel kind of driving day.  It’s also going to be possible to see some damage from these winds.  Downed trees and stuff like that may occur in town.

Higher up, the winds will combine with a lot of snow.  That’s why the National Weather Service has issued a BLIZZARD WARNING above 7,000 feet for tonight and tomorrow morning.

Initially, the snow level will be around 8,000 feet.  Our last storm left a few inches of snow as low as 6,000 feet.  The rain combined with some melting snow could result in some flooding in mountain streams and perhaps downstream.  Otherwise, snow levels will drop below 7,000 tonight and 1 to 2 feet of new snow is possible in the mountains around Tucson combined with winds gusting as high as 70 mph.  The White Mountains could get as much as 4 feet of snow from this storm!

As far as rain amounts in the lower elevations, we are expecting generally 3/4 of an inch to an inch and a half with this system.  Some areas could exceed 2 inches if they get a thunderstorm or two.  This is great news!  We need the rain.  The snow pack will help us out too.

Snow in Tucson?

Well, maybe in the Foothills and out towards Vail.  After the cold front moves through tonight, temperatures will start to drop and so will the snow level.  It’s possible that by early Saturday morning there may be some snow showers right down to the valley floor!  Accumulating snow is expected above 4,000 feet, but it’s worth watching.  This will be the back side of the storm so we aren’t talking about a whole lot of snow, but it’s possible that Oracle, Tombstone, Sierra Vista, Benson, and some other places could pick up a few inches.  IF the snow level can manage to get down to the 2,500 foot level maybe we could finally see snow here at the apartment in Oro Valley.  It’s not likely, but when the possibility gets this close, I start holding out hope.

Bottom line to all this?  Enjoy the adventure but be careful out there!

Another much much weaker storm is headed our way early next week as the El Nino pattern is kicking in.  El Nino dried out or Monsoon last Summer, let’s hope we can now make up for it in the remaining months of Winter into early Spring.

Tucson Weather – Calm Before the Storm

Ski Valley getting ready after a big December storm in '07
Ski Valley getting ready after a big December storm in '07

Tucson Weather: Sunny today with a high near 65.  Partly cloudy tonight with a low near 38.  Mostly sunny on Sunday with a high near 64.

Great news from the National Weather Service.  Our typical December weather is fixin’ ta give way to valley rain and “significant mountain snow” by Monday night and Tuesday!  By significant, the National Weather Service office in Tucson is estimating 6-12 inches between 6,000 and 7,000 feet with snow totals 12-18 inches possible above 7,000.  Great news indeed if it comes true.  This might be enough to jump start the ski season at Ski Valley on the top of Mt. Lemmon.  If that doesn’t, then there is a chance for more “significant mountain snow” Thursday/Friday time frame.

Of course I am hopeful that Mt. Lemmon can get the maximum from each storm.  If that is the case, we could be looking at over 3 feet of snow up there by next weekend!  Even if there is less than a third of that, there will be plenty of snow to sled on and build snowmen with.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch above 6,000 feet for much of southeastern Arizona for Monday night and Tuesday.  That’s on top of this morning’s Freeze Warning that expires at 9am.

So, what is happening?  You can read about it in this morning’s Forecast Discussion from the National Weather Service.  (note:  the link will take you to the latest discussion, so if you click it this afternoon it will be an updated discussion.  If you click it next July you will read about heat and maybe Monsoon :-)

Currently, southeastern Arizona is on the western edge of a cold Canadian airmass.  Cold dry air is giving us freezing temperatures this morning.  The quiet weather this weekend will give way to a storm that is expected to drop south out of Canada along the California coast and into the Great Basin.  The trough of low pressure that forms will allow moisture, and an upper level low in the pacific, to be pulled into Arizona.  That should bring us this good chance of rain and mountain snow by Monday night.

After that, the jet stream becomes more “zonal” or east to west across Arizona.  That should bring us an unsettled weather week with another storm moving in perhaps as early as Thursday with more rain and snow!

I love El Nino Winters in the southwest.  Looks like the AccuWeather Winter forecast is on track.  At least so far!

New Mexico/Texas Storm Now…

Last year on Mt. Lemmon
Last year on Mt. Lemmon

The storm that left 5″ of snow on Mt. Lemmon and even a dusting on Tombstone has now moved into Far West Texas.  El Paso has had a couple of inches of snow from the storm as the vigorous upper level low combines with more moisture and some cooler air.  The Sun isn’t quite up yet in El Paso, but here are some web cams to check this morning before it all melts.  The roads look wet, so the snow has marginal sticking power in El Paso even though they do have a Winter Storm Warning.

Meanwhile in Roswell, NM (my old stomping grounds) it’s snowing right now with a Winter Weather Advisory in effect.  They are expecting “Generally 2-4″ of snow..”  Here’s a nice web cam on the Pecos River in Carlsbad, NM with which to watch the snow coming down.

Lubbock, where I also lived for years, is expecting 1-3″ of snow with some sleet and rain mixed in today.  Yes, I am jealous!

The good news is (for snow lovers like me) El Nino Winters are generally cooler and snowier for places like Roswell, Lubbock, El Paso and even Tucson.  We’re just getting warmed up… er started.

Update 6:24 a.m. MST: The El Paso cams I have linked are somewhat of a bust with images from last night that aren’t updating.  However, the Carlsbad “Brad Light’s Cam” camera is GREAT!  Here’s a shot I just captured.  Snow in Carlsbad!

Snow Day in Carlsbad, NM!
Snow Day in Carlsbad, NM!

Update 6:42 a.m. MST: Here is a link to webcams in Midland, Odessa, Notrees and Hobbs.  Snow in Hobbs and a dusting in Notrees.  Also, a friend of mine on Facebook, Jessica Armstrong, says it has started to snow in Lubbock near 50th and Quaker.

Update 8:07 a.m. MST:  Snow sticking in Lubbock.  Courtesy KCBD First Alert DigitalTower Cam:

Grassy areas and roofs right now
Grassy areas and roofs right now

Tucson Weather, 11/30/09 – Southern Route

2007 Snowman waits for rebirth
2007 Snowman waits for rebirth

Winter Weather Advisory for Tucson vicinity above 4,500 feet has been canceled.

I’m looking at the IR satellite loop this morning and the cut-off low over northern Mexico seems to be drifting south still.  At least to my eye.  Could be one reason why the National Weather Service is highlighting heavier snow for the mountains south of Tucson as opposed to the Catalina’s.  Like I mentioned last night, this storm seems to be taking the southern route.  Not as good for heavy snow for Mt. Lemmon and the Catalina’s.  The good news is, the low is going to take it’s time leaving the area, so we have a chance to see bands of showers, thunderstorms and mountain snow moving across Tucson and vicinity through tonight.

El Nino is being blaming for shutting off our Monsoon early this past Summer.  Perhaps now the Winter El Nino pattern is kicking in that would bring us more rain and mountain snow.  That would make me very happy :-)

Tucson Forecast:

Mostly cloudy today with scattered showers.  High near 58.  Tonight becoming partly cloudy and a low near 36.  Mostly sunny on Tuesday with a high near 62.

Tucson Weather, 11/29/09: Winter Storm Watch

Branches Brace for Strom
Branches Brace for Storm

I love El Nino years in the Southwest.  As the southern jet stream gets going, more storms take the southern route.  That means more rain and snow for places like Tucson.

After a very pleasant (and a warmer than average) November, the Thanksgiving weekend is ending with a nice pattern change.  A vigorous storm system is dropping in from the north.  The expected track is south through Yuma today and then turning the corner just south of the border.  As it tracks to the east just south of Tucson through Monday expect chilly temperatures with rain, and snow as low as 4,000 feet!

This morning we have an area of showers moving north through much of Tucson.  The low is still well to our west and the low has been pulling up moisture from the south.  Expect areas of showers to continue through the day today.  Even though a cold front has already moved through we are still on the warm side of the storm.  Today’s high should be near 60.

Tonight, the storm gets closer and the fun should really begin!  Scattered showers this evening and overnight with temperatures falling and snow levels dropping.  Could see snow sticking above 4,500 feet in places like:  Sierra Vista, Tombstone, Sonoita and Bisbee.  Snow could fall as low as 4,000 feet which means Oracle has a chance to see the snow fly, although it’s not expected to stick so much.  Places like my apartment at 2,600 feet should see chilly rain.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch above 4,500 feet for Sunday night through Monday afternoon for the Upper Gila River Valley, Tucson Metro, Marana, Green Valley, Santa Cruz and Cochise Counties.  Could see 2 to 7 inches of snow between 4,500 and 7,000 feet with 8 to 17 inches above 7,000 feet!

With southern Arizona in the favorable northern part of the storm, we should get the best part of the snow as it tracks on by.  After the storm leaves we should stay on the chilly side.  Highs in the 60s and lows in the 30s through much of next week.  Should be a great week to head up to Mt. Lemmon and play in the snow!  This won’t be enough to open up the ski area, but sledding, snowball fights and making snowmen will definitely be on the menu.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac – No Warming Here

Old Farmer’s Almanac

The 2009 Edition is out.  I had the fun task of interviewing one of the editors.  Turns out the Almanac’s famous weather prediction for this Winter is colder for much of the nation.  Indeed some of the country is expected to be MUCH colder!

In addition, in this edition, the meteorologist for the Almanac says that we (the whole planet) are in for a LONG TERM cooling period!  Why?  For the exact reasons I’ve been outlining here.  The Sun has already entered a less active period.  Solar scientists look at solar cycles and see the Sun being quiet for the next few decades.  Historically that has meant colder weather!

Another thing that was really cool (punny) about my interview with The Old Farmer’s Almanac, they are talking about ocean currents too.  Specifically, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation!  If you have been reading this blog (hi Mom) then you know I have been talking about the Pacific Decadal Oscillation for over a year now.  The Old Farmer’s Almanac says it has now flipped to a cold phase.  This will contribute to colder, and drier, conditions along the west coast and will contribute to colder temperatures in not just Alaska, but much of the country for the next few decades!

There is a similar current in the Atlantic.  I was not aware of the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation, but apparently there is one.  It is currently (punny again!) in a warm phase.  It’s why Dr. Grey and others have been talking about a 30 year period of high hurricane activity.  I guess we are 10 years or so in.  What The Old Farmer’s Almanac and others are saying is once the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation flips to a cold phase, it’s going to get REALLY cold!  I’ve heard that one Russian scientist has a bet with a fellow scientist.  The Russian says it will be much colder in 2018 than some other previous year (I really should Google this).  The other scientist believes in Global warming, so he is expecting warmer.

A side note about the hurricanes.  The hurricane activity a few years ago turned out to be quieter than originally predicted.  The reason was El Nino.  The Atlantic was warm, but because of El Nino in the Pacific, the upper level winds tore tropical systems apart before they could really get going.  Now that we have the Pacific Decadal Oscillation flipping to a cold phase, say good bye to El Nino, for the most part.  With the Atlantic warm and the Pacific cold, hurricanes are going to be a big problem for the next ten years or more.  Look for global warming believers to try to say it’s because of global warming, even as the overall temperatures go down.

UPDATE:  The bet by the Russian scientist is that the temps from 2012 and 2017 will be colder then temps between 1998 and 2003.  Here’s a great article on why more scientists are bailing on the run away global warming.

Rain! and Global Cooling.

and Mountain snow too! Although I may not have time to visit the mountain snow anytime soon :-) Here’s a shot of my hummingbird feeder from this morning. I get a lot of hummingbird traffic. Rain or Shine!


This weather pattern is a bit odd for a La Nina year. Usually when a La Nina forms in the Pacific the Desert Southwest enjoys a warm dry Winter. Same for Southern California all the way to Texas. So far this year, not so much. It has been warm at times, but also very rainy here in Arizona. West Texas had snow for Thanksgiving, which is pretty rare! San Diego is getting soaked from this storm, and boy do they need the rain even if mudslides come with the territory. This is on the heels of an unusual El Nino year last year. Yes, if Tucson is going to get snow, it’s during El Nino Winters, and there was a 3″ snowfall last year. However, El Nino’s also usually means very wet weather for Southern California. It was quite the opposite last Winter. El Nino’s are almost always very dry for the Pacific Northwest. They had a wet Winter last year. So, what’s up?I have a theory, although I need to research it. Could it be tied to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation? Scientists are just now getting a clue about it. As far as I can tell, the pattern of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is for unusually warm water in the Northern Pacific for about 20 – 30 years, and then a sudden shift to unusually cold for 20 -30 years. Since scientists haven’t known about it that long, they don’t have a lot of data on the pattern, but that seems to be it generally this century. So, during “warm” cycles, Alaska is really warm (like the last 25 years). When it’s on the “cold” cycle, Alaska is really cold. Hmmmm. 30 years ago scientists were warning about the cooling of the Planet. For the last 20, they’ve been talking about the Planet warming up. Hmmmm.

Additionally, I wonder if El Nino and La Nina norms are affected by what phase the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is in? Maybe I should apply for a grant and get to researching! If I’m right, this global warming nonsense is about to grow cold! Cool with me :-)