New Mexico Weather: 12/11/15

In Rio Rancho this morning, the weather was cool, still and overcast. The weather has warmed up in the afternoon, and one of my projects this weekend is to fix my weather station (it needs batteries).

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Albuquerque forecasts a mostly cloudy day today, with a high of 59 F. This evening, there is a 30% chance of showers, and a low of 37 F. There is a Hazardous Weather Outlook for today and the next few days. For today, there is a chance of strong winds in the high mountains and the eastern slopes. Over the next few days, there are Winter Weather Advisories for snow and blowing snow, particularly at high elevations and the western and northern parts of the state. Even with these, Skywarn Spotter activation is not anticipated.

The visible satellite imagery shows the overcast skies, and the clouds trailing to the northeast.

The enhanced infrared satellite imagery shows that some of the clouds are relatively thick, with high, cool tops. Precipitation is possible through this evening, based on the thickness of these clouds.

The water vapor satellite imagery shows that there is ample moisture in the state. This image shows more moisture in New Mexico than in almost any other state today.

The 12Z upper air sounding from Albuquerque shows dry air in the lower part of the atmosphere, but humid air between 550 mb and 400 mb. There was 0.28 inches of precipitable water present in the column, but no Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) present this morning. There was a thin radiational inversion near the surface, and the 0-3 km average lapse rate was 5.7 C/km.

The deep-layer shear was 58 kts, and mostly due to speed changes. The low-level shear was 9 kts and was of a mixed mode, speed and direction.

The surface observations (from the SPC Mesoscale Analysis Map) show the warm temperatures, but low dewpoints. There might be a cold front running through the eastern third of the state, as the temperatures rise significantly in the eastern part of the state. What I don’t understand about this plot is the fact that they show most stations as having clear skies when it is overcast almost everywhere.

The surface pressure map shows two low pressure systems; one over central Colorado (996 mb) and one over northern Arizona (998 mb). The pressure gradient into New Mexico is not strong at this time. These low pressure systems will remain relatively stationary over the next six hours, weakening throughout the day, according to the RAP.

Synoptically speaking, the 300 mb NAM chart (from Unisys) shows a deep trough extending into the southwest, surrounded by strong upper-level winds. This is why our deep-layer shear is so high. Also, notice the flow towards the northeast, just like we are seeing with our cloud tops in the visible satellite imagery.

At the 500 mb level, there is a lot of vorticity headed our direction. I hesitate to call it Positive Vorticity Advection (PVA) for us, as it is still a long ways away.

The 700 mb NAM chart shows some rising and sinking air in the northern part of the state. This could be due to increased wind speeds by this evening, as air rises to go over the mountains, and then falls on the opposite side. I see this pattern frequently with high winds.

The 850 mb NAM chart shows a strong thermal gradient, but the winds are currently blowing parallel to the gradient, meaning no thermal advection is expected at this time. This will change throughout the weekend, as a mid-latitude cyclone is forecasted to form over the state.

Overall, I expect a cloudy day today, with a chance of precipitation this evening. In the northern part of the state, I expect that there will be some strong winds later this evening.

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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