New Mexico Weather: 3/12/16

In Rio Rancho this morning, the weather is partly sunny, breezy and mild. The backyard weather station says the temperature is 62.6 F, the relative humidity is 22%, the relative pressure is 29.97 in Hg and falling, and the winds are 10.7 mph from the east. There are quite a few cumulus clouds this morning, though none of them show vertical development.

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Albuquerque forecasts a partly sunny day today, with a high temperature of 63 F and southwest winds from 15-20 mph this morning. The winds will increase to 25-30 mph by this afternoon, and the evening will be partly cloudy, with a low temperature of 37 F, with 20-25 mph winds until midnight. After midnight, the winds will decrease to 10-15 mph. The NWS has issued a host of statements today, including a Fire Weather Watch, a High Wind Warning, a Wind Advisory and a Hazardous Weather Outlook concerning these high winds. Their graphic has been pasted below:

The visible satellite imagery shows a few assorted clouds, though the ones over my area are likely below the resolution of the satellite.

The enhanced infrared satellite imagery shows that none of the clouds are very thick this morning.

The water vapor satellite imagery shows that there is a center of circulation over southwestern New Mexico, and that there has been some moisture return into the region, drawn in by this low.

The 12Z upper air sounding from Albuquerque shows variable moisture throughout the column. There is a moisture peak at around 550 mb, followed by a dry layer at 500 mb. The highest relative humidity was around 350 mb. Averaged out, there was 0.26 inches of precipitable water present in the column this morning. There was no Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) and only a slight thermal inversion. The 0-3 km average lapse rate was 6.1 C/km.

The deep-layer shear was 40 kts, and the low-level shear was 14 kts. Once again, quite a few wind direction barbs are missing from this sounding.

The surface observations (from the SPC Mesoscale Analysis Map) show the mild temperatures, low dewpoints and breezy conditions, statewide.

The surface pressure map shows a 1006 mb low pressure system over western New Mexico, as well as a lee-side low over the eastern slopes of the Rockies in Colorado. While the conditions are breezy now due to the slight gradient in pressure, things will only get worse.

The RAP shows the lee-side low intensifying greatly, increasing our gradients significantly over the next six hours.

The Fosberg Index will increase over the next six hours, according to the RAP, based on the increased wind speeds and lower relative humidity throughout the day.

The Lower Atmosphere Severity Index is also troublesome, with a ring of 7 across the eastern part of Socorro county.

Synoptically speaking, the 300 mb NAM chart (from Unisys) shows a split-flow pattern developing over the New Mexico and Colorado border. There is a small, closed, upper-level low in this area, and beneath it, a weak jetstreak passing through the center of the state.

This jetstreak is causing some strong vorticity at the 500 mb level, according to the NAM. There will be strong Positive Vorticity Advection (PVA) across the center of the state today.

The 700 mb NAM chart does not show much rapidly-rising air today. There is a pocket over the Four Corners area by 18Z, and a little bit over the east by 0Z.

The 850 mb NAM chart shows some Cold Air Advection (CAA) this evening as a cold front sweeps through the state from west to east.

Overall, I realize I didn’t do everything that needed to be done yesterday. No new tree, no garden work, etc, and today is far too windy. Our saving grace today will be the limited 700 mb vertical velocities; if there was a lot of rapidly-rising air, we might get a thunderstorm or two, and that would produce some lightning, and thus increase the risk for fires.

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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