New Mexico Weather: 9/15/15

In Rio Rancho this morning, the weather was cool, mostly cloudy and still. There was even a little bit of drizzle this morning, but I only felt a few drops on my two mile walk to catch the bus. By the time I reached Albuquerque, this is what the sunrise looked like:

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Albuquerque forecasts a 10% chance of showers and thunderstorms through the Albuquerque Metro area this morning. By this evening, the chances will have diminished, but skies will remain partly cloudy.

The visible satellite imagery shows that the clouds are concentrated in bands over the mountains. The I-25 corridor is cloudy, but everywhere else is clear.

The enhanced infrared satellite imagery shows that the clouds are thin, with low, warm tops.

The water vapor satellite imagery shows that the trough and associated cold front has pushed off the Atlantic Coast. Much of the country is under the influence of a high pressure system, and moisture return has been limited into New Mexico. There is ample moisture to our north, across Colorado and Utah, but little is making its way into New Mexico.

The 12Z upper air sounding from Albuquerque shows a dry surface layer, giving the sounding an inverted-v shape. The comparison between the water vapor imagery and the sounding is a little misleading; there is still 0.89 inches of precipitable water present. This moisture is concentrated in a thin layer from around 600 mb to 500 mb. To the water vapor imagery, this moisture is shallow, and barely shows up on the image. Other than moisture, there was little to no Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) present this morning, and the 0-3 km lapse rate was a modest 6.9 C/km.

The deep-layer shear was 43 kts, the low-level shear was 18 kts, both of which would create a favorable environment for rotating storms and tornadoes, all other things being favorable.

The surface observations (from the SPC Mesoscale Analysis Map) show still winds, temperatures in the 60’s, and dewpoints in the 40’s for the bulk of the state. There are no major frontal boundaries, though the station models are showing cloud cover along the I-25 corridor, which matches my observations as well as the visible satellite imagery.

The surface pressure map shows no steep pressure gradients. I expect winds to remain mostly calm today. There is a steep gradient across eastern Colorado; if it changes position or shape, then the northeastern corner of the state may see some wind.

Synoptically speaking, the 300 mb NAM chart (from Unisys) shows a new trough deepening across the Pacific Northwest. The jets are phased, and a jetstreak will be passing through New Mexico this afternoon and evening, accounting for the larger shear value we are seeing on the hodograph this morning.

At the 500 mb level, there is no significant vorticity advection over the state.

At the 700 mb level, there is no significant rising air.

At the 850 mb level, there are no significant thermal advections.

Overall, I expect clouds to continue at the 600 mb to 500 mb level, unless this moisture begins to mix into the other layers. If it doesn’t mix, I expect partly cloudy skies, and perhaps an isolated shower or two. If it mixes, we may just have a thicker cloud layer and isolated showers. However, it doesn’t look like showers or thunderstorms currently, so I expect a sunny day for most of the state.

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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