Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A summary of the Christmas Eve dust events

Amidst the Christmas festivities there were two dust events from brief gusty winds along the border region.  Both were not that significant in Las Cruces.  The first one was between 4:00 and 4:30 pm on the 24th with the passage of a front moving across the area. I heard the trees rustling outside and grabbed a few pics and ran a fungal sample from home. Below is a picture looking south from toward A-Mountain during the event at 4:30pm.
PM10 at the West Mesa station peaked just over 100 µg/m3 (blue line) with winds from northwest. Below are the hourly PM10 recorded at NMED's Las Cruces West Mesa station.
Late at night on the 24th the second event occurred around 11 pm. This one had more of an impact on the east side of the mountains than in the Mesilla Valley. Below are the PM10 concentrations at the Chaparral station as the blue line.
Winds were from the WNW at the time. The RTMA product did a fair job in the surface wind directions and wind speeds at 05 UTC below.
By the next morning fine particulates had risen in Carlsbad. The plot below is of hourly PM2.5 (blue line) with the peak around 7am on Christmas Day.
The soils in the area have been drying out since the last rainfall on the 14th, 15th and 16th. Below is a map of the rainfall estimates from the AHPS product from the past 2 weeks. The last storm system appeared to miss El Paso county and southern Otero county. The Hueco Tanks SPHS  CoCoRaHS station only recorded only a trace over the last 2 weeks.
Below is an animation of the base reflectivity during the late evening event. The first image starts at 03:45 UTC and ends on 07:08 UTC. You probably have to maximize the animation to see enough details and the time stamp. Images were from level III 0.5 deg. reflectivity data from the Unidata archive.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dec. 19 - High wind day

The wind and dust started off early today as a cold front moves its way across the borderlands.  Looking out of my window at 8:43 am I saw thick plume of dust.
The forecast is calling for more high winds and likely dust along the border today. The rains from last week didn't do a lot in the usual dust source areas based on radar. San Augstine pass already had a gust of 70 mph this morning. The NWS is expecting winds to climb as the day progresses. I see the blowing dust symbol is showing up in the El Paso Airport ASOS at 9 am. Below is the Airnow AQI forecast for today.
Here is the Rapid Refresh model run of peak winds at 20 UTC.
I had to change the BAM filter tape on the mobile station this morning and took a short video of the dust blowing at the Fabian Garcia Hort Farm.
The hourly averaged PM10 BAM concentration at the time was 980 micrograms/cubic meter.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Dec. 14

It looks like Friday's storm will bring high winds to the lower elevations with a good chance for some precipitation throughout the region.  The QPF is showing rainfall between 0.01 and 0.10 in the lower elevations between Las Cruces and Lordsburg with higher amounts in the mountains.
The night before, the Rapid Refresh model is predicting winds peaking around 20 UTC (1 pm MST) with west southwest winds over the study area. The map below shows wind vectors and speeds at 20 UTC based on the 06 UTC model run. I'm hoping for rain instead of dust but we'll see.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sunday Dec. 9

A cold front on Sunday night brought not only dipping temperature but gusty winds and blowing dust. PM10 concentrations on campus reached over 1000 ug/m3 this evening. Higher concentrations reaching 2000 ug.m3 were collected further south in Anthony.
Similar concentrations were also observed at the Sunland Park City Yard with peak PM10 nearly 1500 ug/m3.

The Rapid Refresh model predicted the front blow through Dona Ana County between 03 to 04 UTC.
As part of our NM DOH project we continue to record air samples of these kind of events. Here I show collection of fungal samples using the SKC biostage sampler. Notice the blowing dust in the picture as the flash captured them.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Nov. 19 -

More progress on the dust control study plots!  Today we applied four of the five controls on the Diamond Springs plot. Tomorrow we'll finish the last control at this site and wait for the winds. City workers applied the mulch after scraping the plot.
Then the grader scraped the rest of the plots before applying the dust control methods.
Stan did a great job in applying the liquid products on the plots. This was a messy job and fortunately there were no winds to blow the spray.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Wow it's been way too long since I've written a post.  Now is a good time since we're having our first dust day of the fall season along the border. As of 4:35 pm visibility at the Las Cruces airport was 5 miles. Below is a view from our building's webcam at 4:50pm this afternoon.
I'm off to the mobile core site to check on things.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Aug. 14 -

Afternoon clouds limited ozone production in the Paso del Norte today compared to the weekend. Peak hourly ozone concentrations were in the low 60s ppb this afternoon.
The air quality index forecast is calling for moderate levels (yellow) in the Paso del Norte on Wednesday.
The haze that has been lingering around the borderland for the past few days has moved out of the region. The haze that appears to have been a mixture of regional and long range transported haze from distant wildfires is more located to our north today. Below is the NOAA HMS smoke product showing the haze as the white areas and active fires as red dots.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Aug. 13 -

It's been way too long since I've posted here. In the meantime the monsoon has not been that active and precipitation has been spotty along the border. Below is a map of July precipitation percent of normal. The Red to yellow shades show areas that are below average for that month.  As you can see most oft he border area is shaded either yellow or orange. This precipitation deficit translates into dry soils that could be erodible for wind erosion.
The warm and dry conditions have also presented episodes of ozone formation in this area.

Over the past few days we've likely seen haze due to transported smoke from wildfires both from neighboring states, those in the northwest, and potentially some impacts from other continents.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

July 27 -

Scattered thunderstorms kept air quality in the good range today and will likely remain that way on Saturday. A few locations along the border received rain today
Animas     0.08"
Hachita    0.16"
Orogrande  Trace
Las Cruces Trace

While Saharan dust reached southeastern Texas, it appeared not to reach NM based on the NAAPS model predictions.
Wildfire smoke appeared well north of the state today.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July 25 -

Scattered thunderstorms kept air quality in the good range except for brief gusty conditions from thunderstorm outflows and downdrafts.
As of 4 pm there were reports of blowing dust from thunderstorms in Luna and Grant Counties.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

July 24 -

The moisture plume fueling extends over our area so we should see isolated thunderstorms and hopefully precipitation over the border. I'm seeing precipitation from the El Paso radar already near the Bootheel region. We'll seen another good air quality day along the border with green AQI forecasted over all of NM.
A haboob rolled through the area this afternoon. I measured wind gusts of  32 mph on campus at 6:25 pm as I was leaving work. This was at the Skeen Hall parking lot at 1.5 m using the Kestrel. Blowing dust was seen all over campus as well. Thanks to Liz and Rebecca we're also coordinating a sampling effort this evening in El Paso and in southern Dona Ana County for fungal species. Below is a view from campus looking north this evening.
Below was today's webcam looking out toward the west from the NMSU campus. The haboob began at 5:30 pm

Monday, July 23, 2012

July 23-

Our monsoonal pattern will keep pollutants in the good range today as the AQI forecast below shows.
Intercontinental pollutant transport remains active as a large Saharan dust laden air mass remains just south of NM and smoke plumes are well north of us as the NAAPS model indicates.
As of late last week I will be maintaining two different blogs that will keep me busy. I will continue to run this one but will refocus this one towards reporting on air quality along the border. Occasionally I will report on some topic on climate or weather but that will lesson.  I started another blog for the NM Office of State Climatologist to report on topics, news, and issues of climate. There are many times when I wish that I could explain topics of climate further on this blog but it deviates from the original purpose of discussing air quality for the NM Department of Health effort.  You can read the other blog here,

Friday, July 20, 2012

July 20 -

After some travel and vacation I'm back to blogging air quality along the border region. So far here in Las Cruces we received 0.77 inches of rain in July. That's about 48% of what we typically receive in the month of July. There's still 12 more days to go in the month although we're expecting a dry period over the next few days. The 5 day QPF shows most of the precipitation falling to the west of us and in the mountains over that period.
 Today's AQI forecast shows good air quality throughout the region.
A few isolated storms are providing some precipitation across the border along the bootheel this afternoon. Below is the radar reflectivity at 6:21 pm today. There are also reports of street flooding in El Paso this afternoon.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

July 1 -

Wow, we are in July already.  From the NOAA HMS smoke product we might be seeing some of the transported smoke from a Mexican fire today.
By late afternoon the far western border region had some convective storms pop up. Areas north of us fared better with precipitation today but our turn may be coming.
Temperatures didn't get as high today as the past few days but the dewpoint is climbing up and we're in the mid 30s to 40 around the region. Low level Hysplit backtrajectories from points in NM are from the Gulf of Mexico.
Welcoming us to July, I saw a promising 4-5 day QPF map for rain after the 4th. This looks to be a promising monsoon pattern with some impressive amounts.
The El Paso NWS office has been updating a nice daily climate graphic for the airport. You can see the above normal temperatures this summer clearly in the graph. The green is the normal daily temperature variation, the red is the record highs, and the blue are the record lows.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

June 30 -

End of another month and unfortunately a state fiscal year. I've been polishing up reports that should have been done at lot sooner.  We saw some very light precipitation fall in the Mesilla Valley this afternoon but not enough to do any real good except to cool things down and reduce ET a bit. By 6 pm we had all of the SW corner of NM covered in convective clouds. Based on radar precipitation estimates the only significant rain fell over the Gila.
This is a year of extreme weather events with Derecho blowing through the Midwest and finally exiting the US off the east coast. I know other areas were hit but parts of south Jersey were impacted hard.  I was there last month and they are still rebuilding bridges from the last flood with a few roads still closed.  From this storm power is not expected to be back up until July 6 in the rural farm area where my folks are.  However people in that area are used to that kind of schedule. Most everyone has at least one or two generators to power things. Two of the fatalities from the storm occurred close to where I grew up. I'm very familiar with the location where the two kids were killed and my heart goes out to the families.

Friday, June 29, 2012

June 29 -

Another warm day but some of us got a little relief from the heat with a brief afternoon thunderstorm.  Here in Las Cruces we didn't receive any measurable precipitation except for a few drops.  I just happened to look out the window and noticed what looked like a dust devil.  After consulting with the National Weather Service, who were on campus for an outdoor concert, we decided it was a gustnado that rolled across Mesilla, NM this afternoon as thunderstorms developed over the Mesilla Valley.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

June 28 -

I'm back in town after a quick trip to Santa Fe for a meeting with the Drought Task Force. The Task Force is now meeting quarterly from the Governor's directive. Lots of good topics discussed at the meeting. I'm a little surprised that there were not that many from the public at the meeting. Maybe it is not that well publicized. The agenda is published on the Office of State Engineer's website but I think we can improve to get the word out. Also it is during the work day from 9 am to noon.

Looking at the NOAA HMS product for this evening more than half of the continental US is covered to some degree with smoke.
There was some nice convective clouds with some precipitation around the Jemez and Manzano Mountains but it didn't look like a lot.  I stopped by the Los Lunas Ag Science Center and did a couple of minor adjustments to our weather station. It was hot there this afternoon and not at all fun to be out in the sun.

Driving back from SF this afternoon I noticed a little above average haze in southern NM. It shouldn't surprise me with all the fires in the west and the stagnation. Dewpoints are still low in the 30s so the RH is very low with all the heat. Below is the Navy Aerosol Model for today. In comparison to the HMS product above it shows smoke present at the surface throughout the southwest.
Tomorrow's air quality forecast shows a moderate level in and around the Paso del Norte due to ozone. The summer ozone season is hitting the eastern US hard with large areas of orange "unhealthy for sensitive groups" and spots of "unhealthy" showing up in red.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

June 24 -

No relief from the heat today but we have seen relief from wildfires burning in the region. The NOAA HMS product shows no smoke plume outlines over the border region. We still see fires burning in the Chihuahua Mexico and the Sawmill fire west of Socorro. The Whitewater-Baldy complex in the Gila is 87% contained and the Little Bear fire is 90% contained.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

June 23 -

I saw a glimpse of the Sawmill fire from my driver from Albuquerque to Las Cruces this afternoon. I took this from the San Marcial exit on I-25 around 5 pm. This fire is 12.5 miles south of Magdelena and smoke plume was visible from Socorro today.
NM Fire Info shows another fire in the Gila today. I didn't get an area burned for the Diamond fire but it is 39 miles NE of Silver City. The map below shows these two fires and a couple in Mexico producing some smoke in the border area.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 20-

It's been a while since I last posted. It has been hard to get a few minutes to summarize what's happening outside. We've as a drought workgroup have been planning on a webinar to communicate the impacts of the drought in NM and forecasts. The webinar is for Friday June 22 starting at 1:30 pm MDT.It's open to anyone and all you have to do it sign up.

I saw a little more than normal haze this morning here in Las Cruces. With the numerous wildfires in NM, AZ, CO and a high pressure system it is no surprise. The NM wildfires are winding down but still generating smoke especially in the late afternoon. The NOAA HMS smoke product at 11 am today showed a widespread swath of smoke over much of southern and eastern NM and extending out toward the upper midwest.
The EPA/NOAA forecast for 8-hour ozone shows peak concentrations around 7 pm tonight. Below is a map of 8-hr ozone for 02UTC tonight.The model is showing higher ozone concentrations just south of Deming and southeast of El Paso.
Only a slight chance for precipitation on the western edge of the border region over the next 5 days. The QPF map below shows a possibility for rain Friday night and into Saturday.

Friday, June 15, 2012

June 15 -

Finally a chance of some rain along the border!  The convection this afternoon came up quick.
It's been a very busy week with reporting, budgets, planning, etc. and not much extra time for blogging. Sorry. I've been planning a drought webinar for next Friday on top of the usual NM Drought Monitoring Workgroup meeting on the same day. The webinar should be good with speakers from NWS ABQ, TUC, EPZ, and experimental forecast from NOAA Boulder.

Monday, June 11, 2012

June 11 -

Southwest winds should transport smoke plumes toward the northeast today from the Gila, Little Bear, and Mexican fires today. Depending on the activity of the fires in the Sierra Madres in Mexico it is possible to see impacts from this. Below are this morning's 12UTC HYSPLIT forward trajectory predictions for today. The red lines are airmasses starting at 500 meters and the green ones begin at 1500 meters above the ground.
I'm not seeing precipitation relief for the ongoing fires in NM based on this morning's 5-day QPF.