Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Feb. 1 - High winds from winter storm blow through area. Wind blown dust event - This morning's low reading of 32F at the NMSU Coop station is eclipsed by the low temperatures in the late evening because of the cold air mass making its move in from the northeast. The reported high on campus was 40F and probably occurred in the late morning. This morning's low at the airport was 34F and the high was 39F. We have the same issue with the daily low at the airport as the temperature dropped significantly in the afternoon. The following map is the 21 UTC (2 pm MST) wind speed and vector prediction. A stationary front is situated north-south and creating a dividing line of air masses. In the western part of the region we are seeing westerly winds and strong southeasterly winds in our eastern region.
The 18 UTC (11 am) weather map shows the boundary between the cold continental air and our relatively warm desert airmass. You can see the striking differences in temperatures in the Eastern Plains and west of the Rio Grande. Air temperatures were 14F in Hobbs and 45F in Deming with more than 20F difference in dew point between the two.
As of 2 pm I haven't seen any precipitation on the NMSU campus yet but reports of snow in Alamogordo and in the Sacramento Mountain towns. Here is the view to the west up till 3 pm today.
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The Sunland Park City Yard station had a high wind/PM event today with hourly averaged winds exceeding 13 m/s (29 mph). Peak PM10 was over 350 µg/m3 on 1 pm and again at 5 pm. Winds at the time were from the ESE with wind gusts up to 20 m/s (45 mph) in the afternoon.
At the Chaparral Station winds didn't peak as high as Sunland Park and were less than half of what we observed at the same hour there.  PM10 concentrations didn't peak until the evening after 9 pm when the wind gusts were around 13 m/s. We find a similar pattern at the Anthony station with PM10 nearly 300 µg/m3 at 7 pm.
Snow started to fall in Las Cruces around 7 pm and lasted for at least an hour with around an inch of snow on the ground at 9 pm. Photo below was taken at 8:30 pm on my rain gauge.

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