New Mexico Weather: 11/4/15

In Socorro this morning, the weather is calm, cool, and mostly sunny, with a few clouds to the east. Even though the clouds are in the east, I’d be willing to bet that my view of the western sky here on campus is partially obstructed by M Mountain, and that there are more clouds to the west.

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Albuquerque forecasts that there is a 30% chance of showers starting this afternoon. This chance of showers will linger into the evening. The NWS has also issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for the entire warning area concerning the weather around this approaching trough. Today, the primary threat will be wind gusts, that may reach 45 mph in some areas. Over the next few days, there will be freezing temperatures and the potential for snow for many areas in the warning area. Skywarn Spotters are encouraged to report rainfall amounts, snowfall, wind speeds or wind damage.

The visible satellite imagery confirms my suspicions. Low clouds are scattered around the western half of the state ahead of the approaching trough.

The enhanced infrared satellite imagery shows that none of the clouds have high tops; they are all low and warm. The thicker bands of clouds are still crossing through Arizona.

The water vapor satellite imagery shows that the dry air over New Mexico is being replaced by moist air ahead of the trough. This moist air will be an important factor in the falling precipitation that we will begin to receive this afternoon.

The 12Z upper air sounding from Albuquerque shows that a layer of moisture has returned to the Albuquerque Metro area. Notice how the dewpoint trace (green) and the temperature trace (red) are close together from 650 mb to 500 mb. The precipitable water has risen to 0.51 inches thus far this morning. There is no Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE), and no capping inversion in place. This led to a modest 0-3 km average lapse rate of 7.6 C/km.

The deep-layer shear was 72 kts, and the low-level shear was 14 kts. The 72 kt deep layer shear really shows the influence of the upper-level trough and embedded jetstreak’s approach.

The surface observations (from the SPC Mesoscale Analysis Map) show the weak, but consistent winds from the south. There are slightly higher dewpoints as compared to yesterday. There are no major frontal boundaries apparent on this chart, though some stations are reporting cloudly skies ahead of the cold front and upper-level trough as it approaches.

The surface pressure map shows a 1008 mb low pressure system over New Mexico, and no sharp pressure gradients impacting the state thus far this morning.

The RAP shows a 1002 mb low pressure system developing on the lee side of the Rockies in Colorado, which will steepen the pressure gradient in the northern half of the state over the next six hours.

Synoptically speaking, the 300 mb NAM chart (from Unisys) shows a strong jetstreak passing through New Mexico by this afternoon. This will boost shear and may fire some convective showers.

The 500 mb chart shows a local vorticity maxima moving from Arizona into the Four Corners region. There will be some Positive Vorticity Advection (PVA) associated with the trough over the next few days.

The 700 mb chart does not show much rapidly rising air today, though there may be some tomorrow. This chart has been excluded from today’s post.

The beginnings of Cold Air Advection (CAA) are apparent on the 850 mb chart. Notice the wind direction vectors blowing across the thermal gradient from cold to warm. The edge of the CAA marks the approaching cold front.

Overall, I expect the weather is changing. The next few days will be a roller-coaster ride as the trough approaches. The cold front associated with the trough, combined with the increasing moisture could lead to showers and snow, depending on the temperature over the next few days. Today, I largely expect a few showers and windy conditions.

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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