New Mexico Weather: 9/5/15

I think my forecasts are batting .000 this week. Every day I’ve said it will rain, it hasn’t, and every day I’ve said it won’t rain, it has. I will continue to march onward, however, and not let that stop me from forecasting. Yesterday, I overestimated the sinking air; it never cleared the skies. It drizzled all day.

In Rio Rancho this morning, the weather was great. The day started out cool and overcast with still winds. This afternoon, the backyard weather station is showing a temperature of 85.6 F, a relative humidity of 38%, and a relative pressure of 30.02 in Hg, with still winds and mostly cloudy skies. Here is a photo from my backyard:

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Albuquerque has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for today. They are expecting scattered thunderstorms for most of the northern and central part of the state. Some storms may produce heavy rainfall, flash flooding (especially near burn scars or where storms train one after another), small hail and gusty winds.

The visible satellite imagery shows clouds over the western half of the state. Most of these clouds are cumuloform, confirmed by the photo from my backyard. To the northeast, there are a few scattered cloud streets in a mountain wave pattern.

The enhanced infrared satellite imagery shows mostly thin clouds, with a few thicker ones to the northwest. However, even these have low, warm tops.

The water vapor satellite imagery shows a dry feature moving into Arizona, but otherwise, New Mexico has rich moisture from the Gulf of California. This feature is likely part of the shortwave trough moving across the Northern Rockies from the Pacific Northwest; the same feature that may bring some severe weather to Montana this afternoon.

The 12Z upper air sounding from Albuquerque shows another moist day here in the Metro area. The morning dewpoint was 60 F, and there was 1.12 inches of precipitable water in the column. The dewpoint depressions were low throughout the entire atmosphere, and there was even a little bit of Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) this morning (287 J/kg). The lapse rates were still low, with only 6 C/km from the surface to 3 km, and only getting slower above that.

We have more deep-layer shear today than we’ve had in a long time (54 kts). This will enhance storm development by ensuring that storms are well ventilated. The low-level shear is not as impressive (7 kts), so this will limit the tornado potential.

The surface observations (from the SPC Mesoscale Analysis Map) show dewpoints in the mid-50’s, with a small dry pocket from Albuquerque to Las Vegas, where dewpoints remain in the upper-40’s. The winds are slightly stronger than yesterday, but still calm.

The surface pressure map shows no steep pressure gradients, though there is a weakening high pressure system (1016 mb) over the northwestern part of New Mexico.

The pressure is expected to drop throughout the day as the upper level trough moves through the area, which will aid storm development. By this evening, the pressure is expected to have dropped to 1010 mb, and a sharper pressure gradient will have developed over the northern part of the state.

Synoptically speaking, the 300 mb NAM chart (from Unisys) shows a velocity gradient across the state as the shortwave trough moves through the Northern Rockies. This increased flow will boost deep-layer shear.

At the synoptic scale, there are no significant vorticity advections at the 500 mb level over the state. Nor are there any significant thermal advections at the 850 mb level over the state. Nor is there rapidly rising air at the 700 mb level. These charts have been excluded.

Overall, I expect storms this afternoon. The synoptic level trough to the north will bring about some rising air, as compared to yesterday, and will cause the pressure to lower. Given that, I think the chances for showers and thunderstorms are better today than they were yesterday- and there was at least some rain yesterday. I am watching cumulus cloud build around my house, and noticing the damp, humid weather. With the clouds evolving from stratus to cumulus, more sunlight has been able to poke through and increase the daytime heating and evaporation.

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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