New Mexico Weather: 8/22/15

It rained in Socorro yesterday. And in Belen. There was significantly more cloud cover and precipitation than I had predicted.

In Rio Rancho today, the weather is mostly sunny. The backyard weather station says the temperature is 95.0 F, with 23% relative humidity, a relative pressure of 29.95 in Hg and steady, and winds from the southeast at 2.2 mph. Here is a photo of my backyard, looking southwest.

The visible satellite imagery shows the opposite of the last few days; there are cumulus clouds building west of the mountains, and clear skies east of them.

The enhanced infrared satellite imagery shows that the existing clouds are not very thick. They have low, warm tops thus far this afternoon.

The water vapor satellite imagery shows a trough approaching the northern border of New Mexico. The moisture plume has been pushed southward, and not allowed to continue past the trough.

The 12Z upper air sounding from Albuquerque shows a much wetter day at the surface than yesterday. We had a surface dewpoint of 51 F and low dewpoint depressions through most of the column. There was 0.82 inches of precipitable water present. In terms of energy, there was only a little bit of Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE), and 538 J/kg of Convective Inhibition (CIN) this morning, which limited morning convection. The lapse rates was only 6.2 C/km, which is much closer to the Moist Adiabatic Lapse Rate (MALR) than the Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate (DALR).

In terms of shear, the low-level shear is enough to support tornadoes (15 kts), and the deep-layer shear is marginal (27 kts) for supporting rotating storms.

The surface observations (from the SPC Mesoscale Analysis Map) show the still winds and clear skies across the state. The radar overlay for Clovis shows a lot of activity, but it is all ground clutter from the radar being in clean-air mode.

The surface pressure map shows that the thermal low has weakened some more, expanded in coverage (less intense) and moved east over Texas. There is a developing high pressure (1014 mb) over northern Arizona. There is a slight pressure gradient, particularly across the northern half of New Mexico.

Synoptically speaking, the 300 mb NAM chart (from Unisys) shows almost no flow over the state by this evening. There is an intense trough over the Northern Great Plains, which as amplified the threat of severe weather there.

There are no significant vorticity advections at the 500 mb level, so this chart has been excluded.

There is no significant rising air over New Mexico at the 700 mb level, so this chart has also been excluded.

There are no significant thermal advections at the 850 mb level, so this chart has also been excluded.

In spite of the NAM, I am expecting some mesoscale lift this afternoon. I worked in my garden for a few minutes this morning, and it “feels” like storms. To my west, cumulus clouds keep trying to build, but never quite get there. I think that any storms that form will remain below severe limits (I expect the shear to decrease throughout the day, based on the still winds at 300 mb). I may also be “once bitten, twice shy” as I underestimated the potential yesterday, so I maybe overestimating it today.

For what it is worth, the impressive cumulus clouds I saw building have mixed out, and new ones are trying to form. This means that there is lift present, but there is also a lot of CIN to overcome. Today could be a cap bust. I will be watching it over the next few hours.

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
The surface observation and upper level charts are from Unisys Weather.
The satellite data is from NASA – MSFC


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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