New Mexico Weather: 12/13/15

Last night, we received over an inch of snow in Rio Rancho. Simply driving up the hill from the Walmart at Unser and Southern to my house near Southern and Baltic resulted in a half an inch of snow difference. It was a great winter night. Just to show you, here are what the critical thicknesses looked like last night:

Currently, the weather is cool, clear and slightly breezy here in Rio Rancho. Much of the snow has melted and turned the yard into a muddy mess instead of a winter wonderland.

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Albuquerque forecasts a sunny day today, with a high of 41 F. This evening will be mostly clear, with a low of 22 F. The NWS has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for today in the northeastern part of the state for near-blizzard conditions, as well as for Monday evening into Tuesday morning for a second, colder system that will affect the northern and western parts of the state.

The visible satellite imagery shows that northeastern New Mexico is still under heavy cloud cover and snow. The skies have cleared throughout the rest of the state.

The enhanced infrared satellite imagery shows that the remaining parts of the system over New Mexico are not very thick.

The water vapor satellite imagery shows the deepening of the mid-latitude cyclone. The center of circulation is over northeastern New Mexico, but notice how the cold front has swept ahead of it. The cold front has a lot of moisture bunched up in front of it, as shown on this image.

The 12Z upper air sounding from Albuquerque shows the damp low levels of the atmosphere. The humidity is nearly 100% until around 550 mb or so, where the dewpoint begins to drop. There was 0.35 inches of precipitable water present, and 1 J/kg Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) in the column this morning. There was a slight radiational inversion at the surface, and the 0-3 km average lapse rate was 5.4 C/km.

The deep-layer shear was 52 kts, and the low-level shear was 3 kts. Both were a mix of speed and directional shear.

The surface observations (from the SPC Mesoscale Analysis Map) show
light winds and cool temperatures across the state today. There is one small pocket of moisture over the Albuquerque area, but most of the state has low dewpoints.

The surface pressure map shows the pressure rising over much of the state as the mid-latitude cyclone pushes northeast. There is a sharp pressure gradient along the northern edge of the state, leading to locally strong winds in this region. The RAP shows this gradient decreasing over the next six hours as the system continues to move out of the area.

The critical thicknesses chart shows that a the 850-700 mb critical thickness (1540 mb, in yellow) and the 0C isotherm (magenta) remain across northeastern New Mexico, which is why they are still experiencing snowfall.

Synoptically speaking, the 300 mb NAM chart (from Unisys) shows the mid-latitude cyclone over central Oklahoma by this evening. However, notice a second trough forming over the Pacific Northwest; this will impact us Monday evening. In the mean time, we still have strong northwesterly flow over the state today at the 300 mb level.

By this evening, the 500 mb NAM chart is showing some Negative Vorticity Advection (NVA) over the northeastern part of the state. This will clear out any remaining clouds this evening.

There will be no strong pockets of rapidly rising or sinking air over the state this evening, according to the 700 mb NAM chart.

There will be no strong thermal advection over the state this evening, according to the 850 mb NAM chart.

Overall, I expect a clear, cool day here in the Albuquerque Metro area. I expect the ground to be mushy from all of the melting snow, and it to be a generally nasty day outside, even if the sun is shining. I had hoped to do some yard work, but I don’t think I will do that, as it will be incredibly muddy.

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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