New Mexico Weather: 8/20/16

Yesterday, there was rain in Socorro, Belen and Albuquerque off and on throughout the day. I know, as I walked in the rain in each of those three places.

In Rio Rancho this morning, the weather was mild, partly cloudy and still. It was perfect weather for a run. The backyard weather station says the temperature is 75.7 F, the relative humidity is 40%, the relative pressure is 30.27 in Hg and steady, and the winds are 4.5 mph from the northwest. Most of the clouds have mixed out in the past two hours.

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Albuquerque forecasts a partly sunny day, with a high temperature of 81 F, and a 30% chance of showers and thunderstorms. The winds will be from the southeast at 10-15 mph. This evening will be mostly cloudy, with a low temperature of 60 F and 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms. Winds will be south at 5-15 mph shifting to the after midnight. The NWS has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook concerning heavy rainfall along the Continental Divide and northern mountains. Slow storm motion will increase the likelihood of flash flooding.

The visible satellite imagery shows that clouds are lingering in the southeastern half of the state this morning.

The enhanced infrared satellite imagery shows that none of the clouds are very thick; all have low, warm tops. This image has been excluded from today’s post.

The water vapor satellite imagery shows that there is still some deep moisture, though it is not as intense as it has been over the last few days. The moisture reflects the split-flow pattern that we’ll see on the 300 mb NAM chart.

The 12Z upper air sounding from Albuquerque shows that there is some lower humidity air near the surface, there is a bit of an inverted-v shape to this sounding. There is still plenty of moisture aloft, as shown by the nearly saturated air above 600 mb as well as the 0.90 inches of precipitable water that was present this morning. There was 187 J/kg of Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) and -199 J/kg of Convective Inhibition (CINH) this morning. There was a small thermal inversion just above the surface, though the 0-3 km average lapse rate was 7.0 C/km.

The deep-layer shear was 42 kts, and the low-level shear was 13 kts. There was a mix of speed and directional changes at all levels this morning.

The surface observations (from the SPC Mesoscale Analysis Map) show mild temperatures, moderate dewpoints and light winds. The southeastern half of the state is reporting heavier cloud cover than the northwestern half.

The surface pressure map shows slightly higher pressure over the northern border (1018 mb), and no strong pressure gradients.

The RAP shows a brief thermal low developing over the Colorado Rockies. As it does, there will be stronger pressure gradient (and stronger wind speeds) in the northeastern part of the state in the next four hours.

However, this thermal low will shrink in size as high pressure from the trough pushes into northern Colorado two hours later. For New Mexico, our pressure will drop some more, but the pressure gradient will decrease in our state.

Synoptically speaking, the 300 mb NAM chart (from Unisys) shows a split-flow pattern over the state, with winds from the west-southwest. Winds are stronger in the southern half of the state than in the northern, where they are nearly still and zonal.

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

The 700 mb NAM chart shows some rapidly-rising air, with one pocket in the southwestern part of the state and one just across the Arizona border. The one in Arizona will generate afternoon convection that will affect the northwestern corner of the state this afternoon.

The 850 mb NAM chart at 18Z shows the intrusion of cooler air (Cold Air Advection – CAA) into the eastern border of the state. This is our back door cold front that is helping to keep the temperatures mild this afternoon.

The Precipitation chart shows that much of the state could see rainfall this afternoon.

Overall, I expect rain today. I would not plan a picnic or a BBQ, given the high precipitable water, the rising air at 700 mb and the back door cold front.

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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