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.
video



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