New Mexico Weather: 1/8/16

In Rio Rancho this morning, the weather is cool and overcast. We got some light snow last night, but there is none falling currently. Right now, the temperature is 41.4 F, the relative humidity is 66%, the relative pressure is 29.89 in Hg, and the winds are 3.8 mph from the south.

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Albuquerque has issued quite a few Winter Weather Advisories and Winter Storm Warnings. For Rio Rancho, they have forecasted a 30% chance of snow, with less than a half an inch of accumulation possible and a high temperature today of 38 F. Tonight, the chances drop to a 20% chance of snow, and a low temperature of 23 F. Here is map of watches and warnings from the NWS.

The visible satellite imagery shows the overcast skies over most of the state this morning.

The enhanced infrared satellite imagery shows that the clouds are relatively thin, but there are a few pockets of deeper convection.

The water vapor satellite imagery shows that there is still plenty of moisture in the 700 mb to 400 mb layer.

The 12Z upper air sounding from Albuquerque shows a humid sounding from the surface to 350 mb. There was a particularly humid layer at around 650 mb. There was 0.25 inches of precipitable water and 54 J/kg of Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) present in the column today. There was no thermal inversion at the surface, and a 0-3 km average lapse rate of 7.2 C/km.

The deep-layer shear was 53 kts, and the low-level shear was 16 kts. Almost all of the shear is due to speed differences rather than directional differences.

The surface observations (from the SPC Mesoscale Analysis Map) show variable winds and overcast skies throughout the region.

The surface pressure map shows a 1006 mb low pressure pocket in southern New Mexico. There are no strong pressure gradients. The RAP shows similar pressure throughout the next six hours, with no strong gradients developing in that time frame.

The critical thicknesses chart shows that many of the critical thicknesses extend through New Mexico. Everything says “snow” except the 0 C isotherm, which encompasses the Four Corners region, but not the Albuquerque Metro area.

Synoptically speaking, the 300 mb NAM chart (from Unisys) shows that we are in a trough in the lower stream of a split-flow pattern. The 300 mb winds are much stronger to the southern part of the state than in the northern part.

The 500 mb NAM chart shows that there is no strong vorticity advection over the state today. This chart has been excluded from today’s post.

The 700 mb NAM chart shows one pocket of rising air along the New Mexico/Colorado border.

The 850 mb NAM chart shows that there is no strong thermal advection…for now. Notice the strong Cold Air Advection (CAA) over the Great Plains that may set up as a backdoor cold front in the near future. We can see some CAA into the northeastern corner of the state, which will be representative of things yet to come.

Overall, I expect the Albuquerque Metro area to dodge the bullet today, with only some light snow. Outside of the Rio Grande Rift Valley, I expect there to be some snow, particularly in the northern parts of the state and at high elevations. However, temperatures will dip below freezing tonight, so wet roadways may become icy.

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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