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.