Monday, August 24, 2015

Wildfire impacts continue

This morning's backtrajectory model run shows that the border region to receive more smoke from California but not as intense.The map below shows the majority of the imported air to Las Cruces coming from central Arizona and then areas to the southwest.
There remains remnants of the smoke from the past week in the south central states. The image below shows the aerosol optical depth from the MODIS instrument aboard the Terra satellite. Areas of smoke are shown in red to light blue. While most of the thick smoke remains in Idaho and Montana, there is still a lot continuing to flow south through Wyoming and Colorado.

Smoke from California fires

Over the past few days we have been seeing smoke drifting in from the wildfires burning in California, Oregon and Washington.

Today, August 23, a light haze covered Las Cruces most noticeable in the afternoon. The photo below was taken at 6:48 pm.
I think most of the haze is from the California fires rather than those from Washington and Oregon. I ran a Hysplit model backtrajectories from Las Cruces and it shows most of the air reaching us came from areas to our west and northcentral California. This particular map below shows the pathways of air going back 7 days from Sunday afternoon, August 23. The different colors are from the model run in ensemble mode that represents variability in the atmosphere.
Up in Albuquerque and northern NM, the smoke impacts appeared to be much more intense. The news reports on Sunday shows that the City of Albuquerque issued an air quality alert due to the smoke. I ran the same model but starting from Albuquerque and it showed the smoke coming from the fires in California.
Sunday afternoon, the satellite viewed high amounts of aerosols in the eastern part of the state, likely bringing in the smoke from Washington and Idaho along the boundary of the backdoor cold front. The image below shows total aerosol amounts as seen by the MODIS Aqua satellite. The yellow colors show amounts that are high. Normally, we seen mostly dark blue colors without fires.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Our group has been monitoring the dust west of Lordsburg on interstate 10 near the playa. Our remote cameras have been showing a few dust events that reminds me to be cautious when driving over that kind of landcover. I posted a clip from June 9 of this year on YouTube to show much of a problem that area is to motorists. What is troubling is the length of time that the dust obscured the road. In this case it lasted about 7 minutes. The view looks east along the highway and is approximately the same area as the May 2014 accident that took lives.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

July 7, 2015

So far the monsoon precipitation has been above average for most of the state of New Mexico but below average in a few places in southern part of the state. The monsoon "season" officially started in June 15 and at Las Cruces station at NMSU recorded 0.33 inches of precipitation. This is in comparison to the long term average of 0.74 inches.
With this precipitation deficit, we are bound to see dry soils and dust when thunderstorms blow through the area. Today was one of those cases and we saw brief but high winds during thunderstorms in the afternoon. I took the photo below at 3:51 pm standing on the Las Cruces dam vista.
This was caused by a thunderstorm outflow and can easily be seen in the weather radar. I highlighted the outflow boundary in yellow and the arrow shows the direction of movement.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Tuesday, May 12 was full of weather action along the border. Along the east side of the region from Deming to Sacramento Mountains, we saw heavy rain and brief wind gusts. Along the west side near Lordsburg I noticed blowing dust near I-10.

I captured multiple images from the NM DOT cams at and created a brief animation. The first one is from mile marker 12 on interstate 10.
The second animation is from mile marker 11.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

May 9, 2015

Despite above average precipitation in 2015 through most of New Mexico including the southwest part of the state, the soils are becoming dry west of Lordsburg at the playa. Over the winter most of the playa has been covered in water but over time it has been evaporating. During the spring we have seen dust from synoptic storms as well as from convective dry microbursts. On May 4th most of the dust at the playa was from dry microbursts that generated high winds. These winds were short lived but intense based on the traffic cams installed near the highway. A few days later on May 8th winds were elevated from a passing cold front at the same location. I've captured a few screen shots of the NM DOT cameras installed at mile marker 11 to show how the dust looks from the overpass at that location. I have similar animations from the cam at mile marker 12 but I'll show just the ones at mile marker 11 here.

May 4th dust events from mile marker 11. This camera looks west along I-10. Each frame of the animation is about 1 or 2 minutes apart. Notice the complete brown-out later in the animation.
May 8th dust events from the mile marker 11 camera.
When driving through scenes like these, please be very cautious and observe the rules of Pull aside, turn off lights, foot off the brake, and wait it out. The Arizona DOT has a very informative website for this.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

February 10, 2015

A backdoor cold front moved through New Mexico today bringing in high winds and cooler temperatures. Winds this morning caused blowind dust in eastern NM as seen from the 18Z weather map.
As of noon, winds haven't impacted the borderland yet but I expect will.