New Mexico Weather: 8/19/15

In Socorro this morning, the weather felt warm and humid, with still winds and sunny skies.

The visible satellite imagery shows that all of the cloud cover is east of the Mountains. In fact, the mountains form a near-perfect line between clouds and sunny skies.

The enhanced infrared satellite imagery shows that none of these clouds are thick over New Mexico. They have low, warm tops, and barely tint the infrared imagery.

The water vapor satellite imagery shows that the trough has dipped through New Mexico, bringing drier air to the state.

The 12Z upper air sounding from Albuquerque confirms that the shortwave (and associated dry air) has passed through the Albuquerque Metro area. The dewpoint depressions are much higher throughout the column, and the precipitable water is down to 0.41 inches. The surface dewpoint was high (55 F) this morning, but the moist layer near the surface is very thin. There was over 500 J/kg of Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) today, but there was also over 300 J/kg of Convective Inhibition (CIN) as well.

Shear is still adequate for severe weather, with 39 kts of deep-layer shear and 24 kts of low-leve shear this morning.

The surface observations (from the SPC Mesoscale Analysis Map) show a few neat features. The cloud cover is east of the mountains, as confirmed by visual satellite imagery. The dewpoints are dropping, with the low dewpoint of 26 F recorded near Farmington. Albuquerque’s dewpoint is still high, but it will drop as throughout the day. The winds are becoming stronger in the eastern part of the state. Also, noticing the stronger winds in the east, and the cooler temperatures, I think there is a back-door cold front approaching from the east, perhaps running from Santa Fe to Clines Corners to Roswell.

The surface pressure map shows that the thermal low has intensified in the southern part of the state, dropping to 1006 mb. However, there is also a high pressure system of 1018 mb in eastern Colorado, setting up a strong pressure gradient across the state. This may lead to strong winds, particularly east of the I-25 corridor where the the pressure gradient is the steepest.

Synoptically speaking, the NAM at the 300 mb level (from Unisys) shows that we are well west of the trough by this evening. Behind the trough is nearly-zonal flow with just the slightest hint of ridging. Earlier this week, this ridge was not expected to build very far north before the next shortwave trough smacked it back south.

The 500 mb chart shows a small bubble of Positive Vorticity Advection (PVA), which is advecting southeast from Farmington along the US-550 corridor. This may boost convective potential in this area.

The 700 mb chart shows rising air ahead (west) of the cold front. Behind it is rapidly sinking air.

The 850 mb chart confirms the presence of this cold front. There is Cold Air Advection (CAA) moving into the state from the northeast, cooling the temperatures from 34C to 16C!

Overall, I expect very few storms today. The layer of moisture is very thin, and I expect it to rapidly mix out. There might be a few elevated, high-based storms associated with the intersection of the PVA and frontal boundary, but, if they form at all, they will not reach severe limits given the sparse moisture. Behind the cold front, I expect the air to stabilize and perhaps provide some temporary relief from this summer heat.

Thank you for reading my forecast.

The upper air soundings and mesoscale analysis plots are from the Storm Prediction Center website.
The forecasted upper air soundings are from TwisterData.com.
The surface observation and upper level charts are from Unisys Weather.
The satellite data is from NASA – MSFC

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About highplainschasing

This blog is about my tales in storm chasing. My name is Seth Price and I am an instrumentation instructor at New Mexico Tech. My amateur radio call sign is N3MRA.
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