“Hurricane” in the desert

This is something you don’t see every day.

From NOAA EVL – Satellite Captures Rare Cloud Rotation in the Desert

This small low pressure system is bringing rain to the area around Twentynine Palms, CA. The remnants of a storm that developed over the Gulf of California, the low has taken on an anticyclonic rotation as it moves north northwest. This image was taken by GOES East at 1715Z on July 6, 2011.

See large closeup below:

13 thoughts on ““Hurricane” in the desert”

  1. Must be a type-o. Definitely cyclonic for the N hemisphere.

    Perhaps what NOAA means is there is an anticyclonic circulation at the upper levels?

    Norfolk, VA, USA

  2. I live in Blythe, California, due east of Twenty-Nine Palms, CA. I was out attempting to take lightning photographs on the night of July 5th as this system swept overhead. I got just one semi-successful photo as the lightning, while intense, was heavily shrouded by the extreme rainfall which developed. It was one of the strangest storms I’ve seen in my 12 years of desert lightning photography! Normally a cell forms, shoots off some cloud-to-ground lightning, then begins to rain, then the lightning ceases as the rain becomes the primary transport of electrons back to the ground. This storm had lightning coming down lighting huge sheets of rain, so much so that the branches of the lightning couldn’t be seen even as close as a half mile from the strikes. I saw lightning hit a power transformer and a tree, and saw the sparks fly through the air, but never saw the bolt, other than as a sheet flash. This began to form directly over Blythe, out of the clear skies and intense heat and humidity we had that day, once it had been destabilized by the outflow of storms over western Pinal County in Arizona.

    Very interesting to observe, but very poor for lightning photos.

  3. Note on the animated gif that at no point in time does this swirl ever come up from the Gulf of California. It was not the result of a “storm that developed over the Gulf of California”. No way, no how. There were no low level winds associated with this, other than typical t-storm inflow and outflow. It is sheerly a construct of the quirky high humidity we had that day, and the high diurnal desert heat, which remained in sunlight for the entire day west of the Colorado River which divides Arizona and California.

    Lately, since early 2010, there’s been a very notable shift in the climate out here. At night, the sky loses its heat fast. For example, in 2007-2008, it was not uncommon to see near 100-degree temps at 11 PM in Blythe. Yesterday, my external thermometer said it was 87 while the local station, at the airport, surrounded by concrete and tarmac which has been there since WW II, indicated that it was still 96 outside. When I strolled out to lock up my garage and feed my dogs, my best guestimate is that it really WAS nearer to the mid-80s than the mid-90s. Three years ago this was unheard of once the typical “Four Corners high pressure” had set up and begun pumping Mexican humidity to the north into Arizona and southeast California. Like what’s being reported by CERN soon, we have been seeing FAR more clouds here, even during peak daytime temperatures, and almost constantly during the last winter. On top of this, there was still snow in the mountains north and west of Palm Springs into July this summer! I’ve been in the desert (Phoenix and California) since 1996 and I have NEVER seen the weather act like this before. I am sure it’s all due to the position of the jet stream farther south, and the recent cool phase of the PDO, but the main question is WHY has the jet stream moved in this manner? Is it only because of the change in the PDO?

    Therefore, it doesn’t surprise me at all to see the storms roll over us at night, on that gif, when the land was still hot and the air had cooled rapidly. That’s a classic formula for the development of a small, tight low pressure spin in the seasonal “Mexican Westerlies”, and that’s exactly what formed that night.

  4. Erik, how’s the local ecology reacting to the unseasonal rains? Any surprising sproutings?

  5. We had a wet, cool winter and a wet, cool, long spring. My Mediterranean House Geckos didn’t appear on the walls until June (normally May) and the crop of baby toads didn’t come out hopping until just last week (first week of August). My bottlebrush tree in the front yard normally wears its fuscia blooms all summer long but this year didn’t pop them out until early June, then lost them all in a cool snap. It has only started to pop again since the third week of July. The desert’s Palo Verde trees, from which this valley takes its name, were very green long into June this year. As far as things blooming, like flowers or my grapefruit tree, that was all sort of weak this year. We were having daytime temps in the 80’s and I believe only broke 100 on three days in May. Normally we see 105 by the Cinco de Mayo! LA is having a “year without a summer” out there, with low temps and clouds everywhere. Offshore about 30-40 miles, there seems to be a perpetual cloudbank whenever I’ve been out in LA this summer, and it comes onshore in the evenings, cooling the land. It has definitely been a strange year, weather-wise. Most of the storms that I’ve seen have very little energy, low cloud-tops, and quickly lose their punch as soon as the sun goes down. This is not like the 1997-2000 climate when I taught myself how to photograph lightning. Now I’m lucky to even see any lightning at all this far west! Starting today the humidity is supposed to ramp up again, but it has a long way to go from last night’s 10% to get up to something useful in the way of storm energy.

  6. Thanks. I’m well north of you, in Vancouver, Canada. We’ve only just now begun to get some of the non-stop sun that usually kicks in in early/mid July, and the temps are significantly below average. Global cooling sucks!

  7. If is colder in Canada /California, some other place on the planet is warmer than usual; to counterbalance. If Canada /California gets colder by 3 degrees – needs to get warmer by 0,3 degrees over Pacific, to counteract. It means that: the submarine volcanoes are getting very active = increased evaporation. It’s not easy to warm the ocean from the surface, but all the heat from submarine volcanoes / hot vents is absorbed in the water = more rain in California. I hate to say it… but a big earthquake is due for California…

    Have in mind that: there is always logical explanations for anomaly in the weather; nothing to do with any phony GLOBAL warming, or GLOBAL cooling. When was too warm and no snow for Montreal Olympics – north east of Canada was getting colder than usual. Both those places are on the same globe. Extra coldness, or extra warmth in the atmosphere is not accumulative. When part of the atmosphere gets colder, air shrinks. To avoid creation of vacuum, from other places air goes there = that other place with less air gets warmer days. Temperature readjustment is controlled by the laws of physics, not by the shonky climatologist. When gets warmer on some part on the planet (as big city heat) – air expands up – intercepts extra coldness – that extra coldness falls some other place and instantly becomes colder. That is not GLOBAL warming, or GLOBAL cooling. Even during the big Ice Age, when was much colder in Europe / USA, southern hemisphere was much warmer than today. The shonky climatologist presume that was carbon copy on the southern hemisphere; because they don’t understand the laws of physics. If you are interested to know how the correct self adjusting mechanism works, and much, much more; logon http://www.stefanmitich.com.au The laws of physics and Mitich formula says: EH=AE=ECI (Extra Heat=Atmosphere Expands=Extra Coldness Intercepts) Part of the planet can get warmer and always does, but the WHOLE planet’s atmosphere cannot get warmer or colder simultaneously. When geologist find indication that on some part of the planet was warmer in the past; then declare that the WHOLE planet was warmer, is same as saying that: planet is warmer at lunch time by 9 degrees, than before sunlight…?!

  8. 7th;
    cyclone is any large-ish circulation storm, such as a hurricane or typhoon. A tornado is a small tube that forms horizontally on the front of an intense storm cell, then has one end dip down to the ground. It is much more intense and concentrated than a hurricane, etc.

  9. Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact used to
    be a amusement account it. Look complicated to far
    delivered agreeable from you! By the way, how can we communicate?

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