Today was my fifth day job-shadowing at the National Weather Service office in Albuquerque. I sat in on the preparation and delivery of the press meeting that occurs every Monday.
The purpose of the press meeting is to disseminate all pertinent weather information to the press, emergency managers, government officials and so on. In the wintertime, this meeting is a big deal- information about snowfall can keep a city open or shut it down. In the spring and summer, the focus of the meeting is severe weather, fire weather, and monsoon rains.
Today’s meeting was about the start of the monsoon season. Albuquerque is sitting well for July thus far, having received a good soaking this weekend. However, even a drought-stricken state can be affected negatively by heavy rainfall. Flooding, particularly around burn scars, can be an unfortunate side effect to the slow moving, heavy rains associated with the monsoon season of the southwest.
I learned that one way to track whether monsoon season has formed over the rough terrain of the Rockies is to track the high pressure system at the 300 mb level. If there is a high pressure system aloft, it means that the thermal low has developed. Sometimes, the surface thermal low can be hard to see- surface pressure becomes difficult to track throughout the mountains. Once this high pressure system is in place, it will help to block the westerlies that typically dominate the northern hemisphere. This clockwise circulation brings moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, and we have our monsoon season.
After the meeting, I watched as several public products were written and delivered- the State Tabular Forecast (SFT), Point Forecast Matrix (PFM), Zone Forecast (ZFP), Short Zone Forecast (SZP- for NOAA Radio), and the Extended Forecast (SAF- for NOAA Radio).
I hope you enjoyed this post!