Saturday, June 29, 2013

June 29-

A haboob passed over the Paso del Norte and upward through Dona Ana County this evening. It was generated from an area of convection south of Cd. Juarez. Below is a animation of the radar reflectivities from about 7 pm to 9 pm tonight. The haboob shows up as the blue thread-like line wiggling north throughout the animation.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

June 27 -

The smoke here in Las Cruces wasn't as bad as expected this morning as this photo taken at 8am shows.
For the remainder of Thursday the smoke will probably be transported toward the west-southwest.
By late morning pyrocumulus could be seen from MODIS. Below is the Terra MODIS image from this morning with Hysplit predictions from the fire.
I could briefly see the pyrocumulus cloud from my office in Las Cruces at around noon while visibility was very good. A few cumulus clouds are making it harder to see now by 3 pm. As of 5 pm the smoke plume had traveled southwest into Arizona and covers most all of Hidalgo County.
 In other news, today's high temperatures were near record across the borderland today. So far the high at NMSU was 106F that I observed at 3:30pm. So far the high at the Las Cruces airport is 105F and also 105 at the El Paso airport ASOS KELP.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June 26 - Silver fire with substantial impacts to Las Cruces

June 26 -

Impacts from the Silver fire were substantial over Las Cruces today as winds were light and tended to follow the terrain. Below are wind streamlines at 8 am Wed. that show wind patterns causing the smoke to fill in the valley this morning. The streamlines point toward the southeast from the fire, draining toward lower elevation and along the Rio Grande.

Most of the smoke was elevated in the morning and above the shallow temperature inversion. The photo below was taken about 8:30am looking toward the Organ Mountains with the smoke thickest about half way up the slopes.
Yesterday we saw some smoke drifting in from the Silver fire and lift by evening. Below are hourly measurements of PM10 (blue line) and PM2.5 (red line) collected at the Fabian Garcia Horticulture farm on campus in Las Cruces. As of noon the Organ Mountains 10 miles away are obscured by the smoke from campus. As of 1:30pm the Las Cruces airport was observing 7 mile visibility.  Below are the PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations at the NMSU Las Cruces campus as of 9 pm.
We took a PM10 filter sample today to analyze particle morphology in addition to getting a mass concentration to compare with the continuous sampler. We ran the BGI PQ100 for just under 12 hours and also collected particles on a nuclepore filer for analysis with the electron microscope. Below is a representative image from the nuclepore filter during the smoke event today. Many of the particles looked similar to this one. I think this is a soot particle made up of many smaller monomer strands. Physical diameter was on the order of 10 microns. There were also particles that looked geological in nature and a few biological particles.
This morning the smoke was kept aloft above an inversion over Las Cruces. The CL31 ceilometer running as a backscatter lidar clearly allows us to visualize that. I highlighted the top of the layer when the backscatter signal was high starting around 5 am. By 11 am the smoke started to mix down toward the ground as the inversion broke up and caused PM2.5 concentrations to increase rapidly.
The forecast for smoke for Wednesday and into Thursday is for more impacts of the Silver fire in the area around the fire to include Las Cruces as shown in the map below.
I'm more concerned about the overnight smoke concentrations and early morning. The NOAA smoke forecast guidance maps show smoke settling in the Rio Grande valley and potentially causing high PM2.5 concentrations on Thursday morning, June 27. If you live in the area with shading, I would make sure your windows are closed tonight and turn off your swamp cooler if you have one.
Forward trajectories from the fire overnight are supporting this forecast. The trajectories in the map below are from the RAP 20km model run with a Hysplit ensemble at 500m starting height from 04Z to 21Z.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June 25 -

Westerly winds transported wildfires smoke toward the east today as seen from the NOAA HMS smoke product. The Mexican fires had less of an impact on New Mexican counties while the smoke was well south of the border today. The Silver fire has burned approximately 85,000 acres and at 20 percent containment.
Silver fire smoke forecasts from the fire community predict the plume to be transported east through Wednesday. Potentially unhealthy smoke impacts are predicted in the immediate area during the morning hours.
No relief in the form of precipitation is in the forecast for this week. However the experimental 7 day precipitation forecast is showing a chance for light amounts over part of southern NM by next Tuesday.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

June 23 - Impacts from wildfire smoke continue to impact the borderland.

Fires continue to burn in Mexico and bring smoke to New Mexico. Below is the NOAA HMS smoke product as of Sunday night. Fires across NM and CO fill the skies over much of central US today based on the map.
Looking a little closer using MODIS imagery from the Aqua satellite this afternoon you can see the individual smoke plumes from the Mexican fires impacting areas east of Lordsburg. Background image was from Univ. Wisconsin CIMSS/SSEC. The Silver fire plume continues to impact areas north of TorC in northern Sierra county.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

June 22 -

Downwind of wildfires in Mexico and nearby Silver fire in the Gila. We saw hazy skies along the border today with most of it attributable to the wildfires in Mexico due to the west to southwesterly winds blowing the smoke across the region. Below is shows the outlines of smoke plumes in white and locations of fires as the red dots from the NOAA HMS website.
Hysplit backtrajectories from the various populated areas just reinforce this smoke transport from the fires in Mexico.

Friday, June 21, 2013

June 21 -

I've done some traveling and missed a couple of events along the border while I was gone but gained some insight on the drought while traversing the Rio Grande from Taos.

The border air quality first event that I looked at that is worth mentioning was the night-time haboob on the early morning of June 20. Below is a radar animation of reflectivity starting just before midnight. Watch the outflow boundary move northward over time. Winds were high along the boundary and caused quite a bit of dust.
Smoke from fires in Mexico contribute to hazy skies on the 19, 20, and 21st. Below shows the outlines of smoke as provided by the NOAA HMS product today at 17:42 UTC (11:41 am).

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

June 18 -

Radar picked up rainfall on June 17 along the border area in addition to some thunderstorm outflow. I flew in last night at around 10:30 pm and the area around El Paso was hazy from outflow windblown dust. Below is an animation of the accumulated rainfall from the Santa Teresa weather radar from 16 to 03 UTC (10 am to 9am). Based on CoCoRaHS observers, a few locations in Las Cruces measured rain. However no measurable rainfall fell on the NMSU campus at our NWS Coop station.

Very dry soils remain a problem for agriculture, air quality and wildlife (just to name a few) in the border region as shown in the soil moisture map below. The darkest red shades highlight soil percentiles below the 2nd percentile.
Wildfires continue to impact the border area with smoke from the Silver Fire travelling eastward across Sierra and northern Otero counties. Some smoke has impacted other areas to the south during the night hours when winds are light and channeled mainly by topography. Below is a NOAA GOES visible satellite image at 5:32 pm. There are also smoke plumes traveling northeastward from the mountains in NE Sonora Mexico.
By 6:30pm smoke plumes can be seen below spreading over most of northern Dona Ana, Sierra, and into Otero counties. Based on the brightness from this visible image, there might have been some pyrocumulus generated from the Silver Fire in the Black Range. Smoke from fires in Mexico look to impact central Hidalgo over the bootheel and potentially Deming and Lordsburg overnight.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

June 6 - Haze over southwestern NM

I woke up to a hazy view of the Organ Mountains today from my balcony in Las Cruces. I was in a rush this morning to get in early to prepare for a day in the field so I didn't get a photo. I wish I did. The haze was thick with estimate visibility of around 5 miles or so. I didn't smell smoke so that was eliminated. Looking at the dewpoint temperatures in the low 40s and RH in the 30% range ruled out a haze due to water droplets. Next I looked at the GOES IR image for this morning and that provided a real clue as to where the haze likely came from. Below was the 1302 UTC infrared image and you can see the remnants of the storm in the Panhandle of Texas. Earlier in the morning it was over eastern NM. Looking at an animation of the overnight images you can faintly see an outflow boundary coming from that cell. The radar reflectivities also shows that boundary and likely haboob moving across NM. Since it was overnight you can't see it and nobody was looking for it.
The backtrajectories generated this morning also supports a transport from eastern NM to Las Cruces overnight.
I spent the day in the Columbus and Deming area and it was hazy there as well.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

June 4 - Another thunderstorm outflow haboob

Around 8 pm another haboob rolled through Las Cruces bringing in thick dust just after sunset. The photo below is from 8:39 pm looking south from Highrange.

Monday, June 3, 2013

June 3 -

Yesterday's (Sunday) haboob that blew through Las Cruces was spectacular in that I didn't really expect a distinct wall of dust. I was watching the radar echoes of the outflow boundary around 6:30 pm and noticing it move northward. The photo below was snapped at 6:57 pm as it crossed over A-Mountain and the southern part of Las Cruces.
We've uploaded to YouTube a time lapse of the haboob from the same location but looking directly south. YouTube timelapse. This haboob is not a spectacular as the ones in Phoenix but it's the most dramatic I've seen in Las Cruces. The video is a little shaky since I had to hold down the tripod during the high winds to keep it from blowing away. The surface weather map at 00 UTC (6 pm) showed winds from the south and high dewpoints to our east.
 The haboob showed up very clear on the weather radar and you can watch for yourself the progress of it by clicking on the animation below. The haboob boundary shows up as the string-like line moving from the south toward the north through the animation.
As a bonus, I show a plot of lidar backscatter from our ceilometer located just west of the NMSU campus. The plot shows that the leading edge of the haboob extends to about 700 meters above the ground. As expected the highest backscatter levels and likely highest particle concentrations are near to the ground. Impacts of the haboob also continued for more than 3 hours but the most dense part lasted about an hour.