New Mexico Weather: 2/1/16

In Rio Rancho this morning, the weather wasn’t bad. No, ladies and gentlemen, the weather did not turn foul until about the time that I needed to walk from 4th and Lomas to 1st and Central. That’s about when the snow started to fall, the wind started to blow, and everything became wet, cold and unpleasant.

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Albuquerque forecasts a miserable day today, with a 70% chance of snow this morning, tapering a 30% chance this evening. The high temperature is forecasted to be 40 F, and the low temperature is forecasted to be 26 F. In addition to this unpleasantness, we have a Wind Advisory in effect until 8 PM to cover the 25-35 mph sustained southwest winds. The NWS has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook to cover both the wind and snow threats, which may accumulate to 1-3 inches in the Albuquerque Metro area. The image below is from the NWS and covers the watches and warnings that are active this morning.

The visible satellite imagery is unavailable at this time.

The enhanced infrared satellite imagery shows thicker clouds in this system. These thicker clouds are convective in nature (as evidenced by the early morning thunderstorms), and are precipitating.

The water vapor satellite imagery shows the deep moisture over New Mexico near the cold front.

The 12Z upper air sounding from Albuquerque shows the deep moisture present this morning, as the dewpoint depressions are low throughout the middle layers of the atmosphere. There was 0.40 inches of precipitable water and no Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE), though there was 2 J/kg Mixed Layer CAPE. There was a slight thermal inversion near the surface and the 0-3 km average lapse rate was 7.3 C/km.

The deep-layer shear was 54 kts, and the low-level shear was 42 kts. There is a mix of speed and directional shear at the low levels, and there is mostly speed shear at the upper levels.

The surface observations (from the SPC Mesoscale Analysis Map) show the strengthening winds (as compared to yesterday) and the radar overlay shows areas that are receiving precipitation.

The surface pressure map shows a 994 mb low-pressure system over southwestern Utah, moving east. This system is the troublemaker that is bringing us this bad weather. There is a tight pressure gradient across New Mexico, which is why we have such strong winds this morning. The RAP shows this system moving east over the next six hours, though the pressure gradient persists over New Mexico.

The critical thickness contour plot shows that most of the critical thickness contours are to our west, and moving our direction. The are south of the center of circulation, and behind the approaching cold front.

Synoptically speaking, the 300 mb NAM chart (from Unisys) shows a broad trough over the state today. There is a strong jetstreak moving across southern New Mexico, which will increase the shear considerably in this region.

The 500 mb NAM chart shows some strong Positive Vorticity Advection (PVA) ahead of the cold front. This will assist existing convection and lead to some more precipitation.

The 700 mb NAM chart does not show nearly as much rising air as I would have thought. It has been excluded from today’s post.

The 850 mb NAM chart shows strong Cold Air Advection (CAA) behind the approaching cold front. Notice how the wind direction vectors cross the thermal gradient from cold to warm.

Overall, I expect a miserable day today. Stay indoors by the fire, if you can.

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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