Happy New Year! Unfortunately, the new year has brought in the full
force of the Pacific "El Nino" to the American Southwest. A series
of four(!) wet storms have hit Arizona over the past week. This has resulted
in 2-3 feet of snow and very high humidity on Mt. Bigelow. The sky cleared
after midnight, but high humidity and snow on the dome prevented any
observations for the first night of Campaign 79 at the Kuiper Telescope.
A break in the storm pattern is expected over the next few days and with
luck, the atmosphere will dry out and the sun will be able to melt off
the remaining snow on the dome. However, another classic characteristic
of the El Nino weather pattern is that breaks between storms are relatively
short. Given the record-breaking warmth of the eastern Pacific waters,
the effects of the 2016 El Nino could extend for several months.