New Mexico Weather: 1/13/17

Yesterday was cool, still and mostly sunny.  It was slightly cooler than the day before, but not unbearably cold, either.

Currently, it is overcast, cool and still.  The sky is almost completely covered with stratus clouds.  Here is a photo from my back door in Rio Rancho:

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Albuquerque forecasts (for Socorro) a mostly cloudy day, with a high temperature of 57 F.  The winds will be from the east at 5 mph, becoming south this afternoon.  This evening will be cloudy, with a 20% chance of rain and a low temperature of 40 F.  The winds will be from the east at 5-10 mph.  The NWS has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook, a Special Weather Statement and a concerning heavy precipitation and possible winter weather through Tuesday.  It is an incredibly complex system, and so snow is expected at higher elevations starting tonight, and rain elsewhere until perhaps tomorrow evening.  I will discuss this in further detail this weekend.

The visible satellite shows widespread cloud cover over the entire state.

The enhanced infrared satellite imagery shows that many of the clouds are thick, and not just light stratus at the surface.

The water vapor satellite imagery shows that New Mexico has quite a bit of moisture available for clouds and precipitation today.

The 12Z sounding from Albuquerque shows a nearly-saturated layer at around 450 mb.  Overall, there was 0.29 inches of precipitable water present in the column.  There was no Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) and no Convective Inhibition (CINH) present.  There was a moderate thermal inversion near the surface, and the 0-3 km average lapse rate was 4.1 C/km.

The hodograph shows that there was 21 kts of low-level shear (mostly directional changes) and 70 kts of deep-layer shear (mostly speed changes) this morning.

The surface observations (from the SPC Mesoscale Analysis Map) show cold temperatures, moderate humidity (based on the surface dewpoint depressions), light winds, and mostly clear skies (as the instruments can see through the clouds better than our eyes).   There is a cold front just over the eastern part of the state, marked by clouds and a wind direction shift.

The surface pressure chart shows no strong pressure systems or gradients over the state so far this morning.  There is lower pressure to the southwest, but it is 1015 mb- technically higher than average! The RAP shows that no strong gradients or systems are expected over the next six hours.

The critical thicknesses chart shows that many of the critical thickness contours are far to our north (and west) at this time.  Rain is expected in most areas.  This will shift over the next few days.

Synoptically speaking, the 300 mb NAM chart (from Unisys) shows southwesterly flow over the state today as a new trough approaches the state from the west.  You can see the closed low pressure system just off the southern California coast.

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 over the Boot-heel region of the state today.

The 850 mb NAM chart shows some Warm Air Advection (WAA) into the southern and eastern parts of the state.  This may indicate that a warm front is forming ahead of the low pressure system.  As far as cold air, this is a complicated set up.  A backdoor cold front keeps wanting to form, but warm air from the Gulf of Mexico keeps pushing it back, blocking this cold air intrusion.  Every day is a new battle.

The Precipitation chart shows some precipitation over the eastern part of the state by 0Z.  Most of the rest of the state has a chance of precipitation by late tonight.

Rio Rancho may see some rain this evening.  I’m really not sure what to make of this back door cold front;  depending on the strength and distance it punches west, the more likely we are to see snow.  The NAM doesn’t show it going very far west, but it has been changing every day.

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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