Central New Mexico Weather: 3/18/18

Yesterday was pleasant.  It was sunny, mild and a bit breezy.  I spent some of the time outside reading, so that was nice.

This morning has been sunny, cool and breezy.  I may go for a run when I finish this post.

The NWS in Albuquerque, NM, forecasts (for Rio Rancho, NM) a mostly sunny day, with a high temperature of 53 F.  The winds will be from the southwest at 15-25 mph, increasing to 25 to 35 mph, gusting as high as 50 mph this afternoon.  This evening will be partly cloudy, with a low temperature of 25 F.  The winds will be from the northwest at 30-40 mph, gusting to 55 mph, but then decreasing to 15 to 25 mph after midnight.

The NWS in Albuquerque, NM, forecasts (for Socorro, NM) a mostly sunny day, with a high temperature of 63 F.  The winds will be from the southwest at 20-25 mph, increasing to 25-35 mph, and gusting as high as 45 mph this afternoon.   This evening will be mostly clear, with a low temperature of 30 F.  The winds will be from the northwest at 25-30 mph, gusting to 45 mph, but then decreasing to 15-20 mph after midnight.

The NWS in Albuquerque, NM, forecasts (for Magdalena, NM) a mostly sunny day, with a high temperature of 50 F.  The winds will be from the southwest at 20-25 mph, increasing to 30-35 mph, and gusting to 50 mph in the afternoon.   This evening will be mostly clear, with a low temperature of 24 F.  The winds will be from the northwest at 25-35 mph, gusting to 50 mph, but then decreasing to 15-25 mph after midnight.

The NWS in Albuquerque has issued many products ahead of the upper-level low that will pass over the state today.  This system will bring strong, damaging winds to most of the state, as well as snow to the northern and higher elevations  The NWS Watches and Warnings graphic is shown below:

The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has issued an Extreme Fire Risk for the southeastern corner of the state today, as well as a Critical Fire Risk for a larger part of the state.  The extremely high winds and dry conditions will make fire weather a reality today.

The visible satellite image shows very few clouds over most of the state, though there is a patch of clouds over the northwestern corner.

The infrared satellite image shows that most of the clouds are thin and have low, warm tops.

The enhanced low-level water vapor satellite imagery shows extremely dry air over most of the state today.  Combined with the strong winds, and the fire threat will be significant today.

The 12Z upper air sounding from Albuquerque shows a moderately-dry atmosphere.  There was 0.22 inches of precipitable water present in the column.  There was no Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) and no Convective Inhibition (CINH).  The Lifted Condensation Level (LCL) was 1864 m.  There was no thermal inversion near the surface, and the 0-3 km average lapse rate was 6.8 C/km.

The hodograph shows that there was 22 kts low-level shear (due mostly to directional changes) and 43 kts deep-layer shear (due mostly to speed changes).

The surface observations (from the SPC Mesoscale Analysis Map) show mild temperatures and low humidity (based on the surface dewpoint depressions).  The skies are clear (according to the sensors), and the winds are light and variable at this time.

The surface pressure chart shows that the state is under low pressure and a slight pressure gradient so far this morning.  The RAP shows that a lee-side low will intensify over eastern Colorado, creating a strong pressure gradient over New Mexico in the next six hours.  Wind speeds, and thus the fire risk will increase significantly.

The NAM 250 mb chart shows that New Mexico is at the end of a stout trough.  Upper-level winds will be strong as this system moves east.

The HRRR simulated reflectivity shows precipitation is unlikely today.  However, there is a very slight chance that a few drops of rain may reach the ground.  Even though this chart shows precipitation, the dry conditions and high winds will likely evaporate any precipitation before it reaches the ground.  It wouldn’t surprise me to see virga in the afternoon.

The HRRR predicts that the high temperatures for the Rio Grande River Valley will peak around 23 Z, reaching into the low-50’s.

The HRRR shows that winds will be gusty all day.  Look at some of the stronger gusts- approaching 60 mph!

The HRRR shows very few clouds today.  This chart has been excluded from today’s post.

Today will be mild and sunny with extremely strong winds.  Today will be windier than it has been all year thus far.  Blowing dust and wildfires are possible today.

Thank you for reading my post.

Sources:
The forecasts from the National Weather Service are from The NWS Homepage
The upper air soundings and mesoscale analysis plots are from the Storm Prediction Center website.
The satellite data, model data, and forecasted soundings are from College of DuPage – SATRAD

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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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