Weather - Precipitation

Meteorology versus Meteors

If a meteorologist studies weather, what do we call a person who studies meteors? In the days of ancient Greeks, meteorology was the study of the atmosphere, and anything that came out of it - rain, sleet, snow, hail. So, not too surprising that meteorology became the study of weather. But whatabout meteors? The science of meteors is called Meteorics. Accordingly, a student of meteors is ameteoriticist. A tongue twister to be sure.




Totals For Year 2016



Totals For Year 2015



Totals For Year 2014


Weather Discussion - July 2017

by Richard Schreiber

Weather Resources

No question about it, actual monsoon conditions developed early in July and our region has received some sorely needed precipitation. There have been spots where rain has been more sparse than at other nearby sites, but that's the nature of the varied Sky Islands microclimates.

During the month there were many overcast days, brilliant displays of lightning often accompanied by rolling thunder, and short periods of torrential rains resulting in NWS flood watches and warnings. Participants in the Cave Creek Regatta organized by Howard Topoff were well aware of the situation as the varying flow in the creek and across Foothills Wash clearly demonstrated.

Depending on your level of interest in learning more (or not) about the monsoon and accompanying weather phenomenon, this month's feature is a compilation of websites you can visit to learn more or get a better visual representation of what's happening. And many of these web sites will be informative for all types of weather conditions, not just for the monsoon, but throughout the year.

1. Real Time Weather

My favorite is Wundermap (provided by Weather Underground), which amasses a huge amount of data including NEXRAD radar and a world-wide network of personal weather stations (including our own). All of this is used to display current conditions which are constantly updated on an interactive map. An interesting option is "storm tracks", which displays projected tracks and intensity for radar detected storms:

2. Current and 7-day Forecasts

Our leading site for forecasts is the Tucson NWS Forecast Office, which provides current weather and forecasts out to seven days. Current warnings, watches and notices are given top billing on this site.

Start here and enter the city and state in the upper left of the page:

Or, I find it's easier to enter the following in your search engine (Google, or whatever you use):

1. enter: NWS Portal, AZ (or any specific city)

2. several options will be listed. Close to the top of the list should be the web page you need.

3. Real-time Lightning Detection and Display

These sites display current and recent lightning activity based on a network of lightning detectors. You can select the entire country or a smaller area. Even the type of lightning (cloud-to-cloud, cloud-to-ground, etc.) is provided. Summaries of lightning activity for longer periods such as 24 hours are available.

4. Wind Map

Current wind speeds and direction for the entire US. Zoom in to a smaller region and mouse over to see actual speed and direction.

5. National Weather Service Graphical Forecasts

There is so much information available on this NOAA site it is a challenge to know where to begin. Be prepared to spend some time familiarizing yourself with the options. Once you find your way around this site, you'll probably return to it when there is any weather situation you want to understand better.

most recent weather satellite photos

real time NEXRAD radar maps, stationary or loops

NWS Dew point Tracker for Tucson, NOAA

warnings and forecasts for the entire US

typical weather forecast maps

flood predictions based on a large network of gauges

air quality

drought monitor

So enough already, here it is:

6. Wildfires

We are all too aware of the fire risk early in the monsoon season when there isn't much moisture yet but lightning storms become daily events.

Many local residents rely on this site for official fire information, maps, news releases, and preparedness:

If you are more technically inclined and want to download current fire data that can be displayed in Google Earth, try this site. KML data is what I have used:

Monsoon Update

Figure 1 is a plot from our weather station here on Limestone Hill showing dew point temperatures throughout the month of July. After July 11 there wasn't a single day on which the average dew point temperature fell below 54 degrees. It was very constant.


Figure 1. Plot of dew points for July 2017 taken at Limestone Hill weather station,Portal, AZ. After July 11 dew points only occasionally dropped below
54 degrees. These conditions are considered favorable for storm development.

If you compare the above with Figure 2, which is the National Weather Service dew point tracker for Tucson, the data is very similar. We imagine the NWS equipment to be better calibrated and more precise, so our values are not exactly the same as theirs, but the overall plots are quite similar. Also the Tucson figures are daily averages, while our graph plots readings taken every 15 minutes.


Figure 2. Daily average surface dew point at Tucson Int'l Airport for July 2017. (NOAA)


Incidentally, the NWS reported that it was the wettest July on record for Tucson and the second wettest any month on record.

JULY2017 recap

With the onset of monsoon conditions early in the month, July normally experiences somewhat cooler temperatures with no days in the past 10 years exceeding 100 degrees, at least here on Limestone Hill. A slight exception was the 99.4 degree high for the month which is a ten-year record but in reality not high enough to be significant.

All other temperature data were in the normal range for the month. Cooling degree days were lower than June which correlates well with other data.

Finally for 2017, some precipitation worth talking about -- almost 4.5 inches! With the exception of 2008 when we recorded 10.66 inches of rain for July, and 2009 when only 0.63 inch fell, we are within the normal range of 2.51 - 6.73 inches.

July is typically not a very windy month and our maximum gust was 32 mph and that was the only wind in excess of 30 mph for the entire month. Historically we have seen a maximum of 4 days with gusts over 30 mph during the month.

Richard Schreiber

Comments and suggestions appreciated:


Howard Topoff 2011