Saturday, April 30, 2011

April 30

Expect winds to pick up again today. The NWS forecast is for west southwest winds 18 to 21 mph increasing to between 29 and 32 mph. Winds could gust as high as 45 mph. Below are the expected winds at 6pm from the RUC model.
AQI forecast shows moderate air quality in west Texas.
Looks like another pulse of Asian dust coming in from the west. Below is last night's forecast.
A few more fires are in the picture today. One just south of Palomas with a visible smoke plume.

Friday, April 29, 2011

April 29

The winds are to pick up in the afternoon. This morning's low at NMSU was 48F which is right about the normal for this day. The expected high today will range from 92F in Las Cruces to 94 in El Paso. In the far eastern NM the highs are looking to be near 100F. The NWS is forecasting afternoon peak winds in the 25 to 30 mph range with gusts up to 41 mph. Below are the RUC derived winds at 6 pm with the highest south of I-10.
Still no sign of any moisture in these storms. The 4-day precipitation forecast below shows rain in northern NM but not here.
Turning out to be a dust day after all. Not as bad as Monday but winds are picking up quite a bit of dust. I can see the gypsum flying off of White Sands from GOES. Several wildfires are also blowing smoke plumes in the region. One is in the Gila Wilderness and the others are along the Arizona/Mexico border.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

April 28

We're to get another break in the winds today. Winds only expected to be no more than 13 mph. Here is the RUC forecast for 6 pm tonight.
The Abrams fire has crept west into the west slopes of the Organ Mountains. At 7:30am the smoke can be seen lingering near the fire and at the base of the mountain due to some morning downslope winds.
We're supposed to get some easterly winds early in the day that will likely push some of the smoke into Las Cruces. Below are Hysplit forward trajectories from the fire starting at 12Z (6 am). I used the RUC model for for the winds. The model generated a forecast trajectory every hour for 12 hours. If it goes as is predicted the smoke may be pushed west and then north along the Rio Grande Valley.
Today's AQI foreacst shows an area of moderate air quality over the eastern part of the study area. The fire may enhance ozone production today in our area due to the low winds and clear skies.
As of tonight the Abrams fire has burned 8909 acres and is 40 percent contained. Dripping Springs, Bar Canyon Trail, Pine Tree Trail, and Aguirre Springs are closed to the public.Smoke was not an issue in Las Cruces today. The southwesterly wind carried the smoke away from populated areas most of the day. 
However I wouldn't doubt that nightime downslope winds will bring smoke down from the mountain tonight. Below is a shot of the fire from Las Cruces at 7:45 pm.

Tomorrow looks to be windy but not as strong as Monday. The NWS forecast indicates afternoon winds in the 27 to 30 mph range with gusts up to 41 mph. The more erodible surfaces will yield dust but not region wide.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April 27

We had a brief break in the winds. Winds were from the northwest from around 10 to 15 mph.

Today's AQI forecast shows an area of moderate air quality due to ozone over parts of Dona Ana and Luna County.

A few wildfires are active in our region. The Abrams fire is at 7,400 acres and 40 percent contained. The fire has moved to the west slopes of Organs and is visible to Las Cruces. Flames can be seen in the evening from town.
Not sure what fire that is with a smoke plume over Socorro and northern Sierra county. The fire is southeast of Quemado. I was driving south through I-25 this afternoon and smoke is visible and can smell it south of San Antonio. This was a photo looking west at an exit south of San Antonio at 6:30 pm.
Friday may bring higher winds but not as intense as Monday's.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April 26 - High wind dust day

I expect to see a high wind dust event today. This morning's NWS forecasts show winds to increase to the 38 to 41 mph range in the afternoon. At 10 am it's already windy and can see a dust cloud moving in from the west with gusts in the 30 mph range in Las Cruces. The NWS expects wind gusts to be up to 55 mph later today. The RUC is predicting peak west-northwest winds around 21 UTC (3 pm MDT).
The NWS also issued a Blowing Dust Advisory at 5:14 am for our region.

The AQI forecast hasn't changed from last night and shows an area of moderate air quality in west Texas and a bulls-eye of unhealthy air quality over Albuquerque.
Here is a view out my window looking west at 2:38pm with an hourly PM2.5 concentration of 82 µg/m3.
The dust plumes covered a large area by this afternoon as seen from GOES at 23:45 UTC.

Monday, April 25, 2011

April 25 - Dust event warning for Tomorrow

Another breezy day but I don't expect windspread dust today. Below are the RUC winds at 3 pm MDT.
Today's AQI forecast is similar to yesterday and shows a patch of moderate air quality over the Paso del Norte
The Abrams fire remains active today with 5000 acres burned as of this morning. Further east the Last Chance fire is also active with 15000 acres burned. This fire is located north of the Guadalupe mountains in Eddy county with a smoke plume that is sensed by the NOAA HMS smoke product. Winds are blowing the smoke plume east today.  By 9pm this evening the plumes are blowing east based on the HMS smoke product.
The Abrams fire could crest the Organ Mountains based on news reports.

Tomorrow still looks good for a high wind dust event. This morning's GFS run shows high west-northwest winds along the border. As of this morning the NWS is calling for winds in the afternoon between 34 and 37 mph with gusts up to 55 mph.
This evening's 03Z RUC forecast for tomorrow at 3pm is showing the extent of the high winds. Peak winds at 3 pm are along I-10 around Deming. This isn't a good combination for travelers on the interstate or on highway 180. I expect this storm to cause widespread wind blown dust over most of the region on Tuesday afternoon.
The brunt of this storm is however in the eastern plains and northern NM. Places like Clines Corners could be hit with winds gusts in the 70 to 80 mph range. The AQI forecast for tomorrow is reflecting the high winds in north-central NM with a patch of red or "unhealthly" air quality. The AQI forecast is only showing a small area of moderate in far west Texas.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

April 23 and 24 summaries

April 23

A breezy day over our monitoring stations but not enough wind for widespread wind erosion. Below are RUC winds at 6 pm showing a pulse of high winds across the Bootheel region but not much elsewhere.

April 24

A windy day and high particulate concentrations were observed at a few of the long term monitoring sites in the region. Below are RUC winds at 22 UTC (4 pm MDT).

A sampling of PM10 concentrations around the network shows that the highest values occurred at the Sunland Park City Yard.
Smoke plumes were transported toward the east-northeast today from the winds. Only a couple of wildfires were burning near our region today. Below is the MODIS-Terra image with the NOAA HMS fire detections and smoke outlines.
By the end of the day the Abrams fire burned about 5,000 acres and was 40 percent contained. I was at Aguirre Springs in the afternoon and saw the smoke from there. Between the windblown dust and fire the Tularosa basin was hazy today.

The AQI outlook for Monday shows moderate air quality over the Paso del Norte but good elsewhere.
Our next chance for a larger widespread dust event is Tuesday. Below is the GFS wind forecast for Tuesday afternoon. Most of the winds looks to be northeast of us but we'll be getting high winds as well.

Friday, April 22, 2011

April 22

Another breezy day but the winds should not be an issue today for dust. NWS is forecasting winds between 23 and 25 mph with gusts around 36 mph. Below are winds at 6 pm MDT from the RUC model.
The AQI looks to be good as well.
This is the 80th day without rain in Las Cruces. No relief in the near term in southern New Mexico or West Texas.
There are couple of active fires in southwest NM today. A new fire called the Abrams fire is on the east slopes of the Organ Mountains on WSMR property. Fire is around 2000 acres according to the spot forecast request. See the blog entry on April 20 for a photo of faint smoke from this.The Yellow fire northwest of Gila Hot Springs is also active at 40 acres.  By the end of the day a few smoke plumes can be seen and tracked through the NOAA HMS product.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

April 21

Again another breezy day with winds coming from the west northwest over most of the region. Below are the 6 pm winds from this morning's 12Z RUC run.
Now that it's getting into ozone season, I'm starting to look at the ozone forecasts that NOAA/EPA is generating. Peak 8-hour ozone occurs around 03 UTC (9 pm) based on looking at a number of time series plots at several areas. The urban plume from Tucson can be clearly seen being transported along I-10.
Below is an animation of the 1-hour ozone concentrations for today.
The Pine Lawn wildfire in the Gila National Forest is currently at 500 acres and 80 percent contained. This fire is eight miles south of Reserve with the transport winds blowing most of the smoke toward the east.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April 20

Breezy afternoon but not strong enough for windblown dust. Winds are predicted to be from the west and southwest throughout our region.
A prescribed burn is planned for the San Andres NWR today. The fuel burned is grass and shrubs with an ignition time of around 10am. These west southwest winds will very likely be transported toward the northeast into the northern Tularosa Basin.  The Yellow wildfire in the Gila Wilderness northwest of Gila Hot Springs is burning today at elevations of 6400 to 7000 feet. At the last check on twitter showed the size around 40+ acres.

Similar to yesterday the AQI forecast shows good air quality over the whole state.
So far every afternoon looks to be breezy with winds in the 20+ mph range but not enough for a dust event. Possibly by Sunday or Monday we might have enough winds for dust. Too far in advance to say for sure.

As I was driving back from Lordsburg this afternoon, there was a faint plume of smoke from the Organ Mountains but I think it's from the Ft. Bliss (east) side. Photo was taken at 3:30pm today.
 I did not see any other smoke plumes today as I traversed I-10. I did see lots of dust devils in Deming.

At 5 pm the NOAA HMS fire products are picking up fires near the border south of Deming and in Chihuahua.
Zooming out of our region and looking at the large fires to our south we can see the impacts of these not only on smoke but NO2. Data from the OMI instrument aboard the Aura spacecraft has been processed by the KNMI/NASA group to estimate tropospheric NO2. Below shows a comparison of the NO2 column concentrations along with the NOAA HMS smoke plume outlines. For the Mexican fire there is a very good match between NO2 and smoke.
A low wind high PM event was observed at the Sunland Park City Yard station in the evening.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April 19

Warm start to the day at 54 degrees in Las Cruces. Our normal low for this day is 45. Highs today include a 87 at Columbus, 86 in Animas, and 83 in Deming. We're looking at a breezy day but not enough to generate widespread dust in our region. Again we should see westerly winds but it looks like it peaks a little earlier at 21 UTC (3 pm) today.

The AQI forecast shows New Mexico as all green or having good air quality today.

Monday, April 18, 2011

April 18

The winds are the story for today. The RUC is showing peak winds in the late afternoon. Below are the winds at 00 UTC (6 pm MDT) with the highest winds south of I-10.

The National Weather Service's forecast for Las Cruces is "Areas of blowing dust. Sunny, with a high near 89. Windy, with a west wind between 28 and 30 mph, with gusts as high as 41 mph."

Today's AQI forecast shows an area of moderate air quality over the Paso del Norte and into southern Otero and El Paso County. This area of moderate is due to PM2.5
Windblown dust has increased PM10 and PM2.5 at the Sunland Park City Yard station early today.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

April 17

Another warm day along the border. Both Animas and Hachita topped out at 88F while Columbus and Orogrande hit 90 today.

Texas smoke plumes are being transported east away from our region. A fire in Mexico generated a smoke plume that reached to the Chiricahua Mountains today.

The AQI forecast for tomorrow is calling for moderate levels of air quality arournd the Paso del Norte although there is a threat of wind blown dust om Monday.

Monday's forecast looks like areas of wind enough for windblown dust.