We had a very wet period from late afternoon Thursday through early evening Friday (12/23-12/24) as an atmospheric river (AR) moved across the southwest and Arizona. From the Wikipedia site:
An atmospheric river (AR) is a narrow corridor or filament of concentrated moisture in the atmosphere. Other names for this phenomenon are tropical plume, tropical connection, moisture plume, water vapor surge, and cloud band.
An approaching trough of low pressure was able to tap into tropical moisture and move it across the southwest into Arizona overnight. Interestingly, the moisture plume aloft initially moved above a drier layer of air. Precipitation falling into this drier air experienced strong wet bulbing and evaporative cooling which lowered snow levels to ~6500 feet—putting Flagstaff into the snow. As the plume continued, these cooling effects diminished and the snow turned into rain. So we had about 4-6″ of snow followed by day-long rain. What a mess.
Comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard) remains a visually interesting object in the evening twilight. It is only visible for short time each evening between the time it gets dark enough to see it and when it gets too low on the horizon and is obscured by dust or clouds.
The comet has undergone a rapid brightening in the past few days. From Spaceweather.com:
The outburst might signal a fragmentation event in the comet’s core. This would come as no surprise. The comet is heading for its closest approach to the sun (0.61 AU) on Jan. 3rd. Increasing heat may be liberating new jets of gas and dust from the comet’s core—or worse, blowing away huge chunks of ice and rock.
There have been numerous magnificent images posted to the Spaceweather.com website:
Last week we headed down to Sedona for a trail run. Because of a recent rain event followed by a very cold night there was frost on the ground and some of the vegetation. Especially wonderful was the spiky frost on many rocks and tree roots.