Monday, March 28, 2016

March 23, 2016 dust episode

Following the March 22 high wind day, the next day proved to be a potent dust day along the border.

Based on a summary of maximum wind gusts from the National Weather Service this event was similar in strength.

Dust source areas (pink color in map) in southwest New Mexico and Mexico showed up in today's 1:44pm MDT VIIRS dust product image from NASA SPoRT.
Some of the same dust source areas on the previous day were also emitting today. However on this day the wind direction was from the northwest pushing dust toward the southeast.

March 22, 2016 dust event

A strong synoptic dust storm impacted most of the border country on March 22 and 23. High winds started early on the 22nd across the region and peaked late in the afternoon.

Traffic cameras along I-10 recorded times of near-zero visibility in the afternoon. The cameras west of Lordsburg showed episodes of blowing dust from the playa or dry lakebed.  At the peak of the dust storm at about 4:11 am MDT the mile marker 11 camera (view toward the west) looked like this.
A few minutes later at 4:14 pm visibility increased a little but still a dangerous situation
The National Weather Service summarized the peak wind gusts and part of that statement is shown below. Click on it to view it. Peak winds at the Lordsburg playa were recorded at 61 mph at 4:49 pm/ In Deming winds gusted to 46 mph at 5:13 pm.
From satellite the dust could be seen from sources in New Mexico, Arizona, and Mexico. Below is an animated GIF of dust plumes as seen from NOAA GOES satellite of this afternoon.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

March 12, 2016 Forecasted dust

An upper level low travels through the border region today and is expected to bring in high winds. The National Weather Service is forecasting blowing dust starting around 11 am MST on Saturday. The graphical weather forecast is shown below for 11am MST
As of 9 am MST the forecasted winds in Las Cruces, NM were"Windy, with a west wind 16 to 26 mph increasing to 28 to 38 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 55 mph." The soils along the border are likely very dry so the forecast of blowing dust appears appropriate.

Post event analysis

By 12:50 pm MST, dust sources in Chihuahua were active and dust plumes could be seen moving toward the ENE direction south of El Paso. Below is an image from NASA's VIIRS dust product that I obtained from their SPoRT webpage. In this product, dust shows up as bright pink. I brought the image into Google Earth and added the text.
By 3:30 pm MST, I could clearly (at least from my eyes) see dust plumes across Luna and Dona Ana Counties. One particular dust source west of Hatch was one that it unusual. Below is an image that I created based on 4-km GOES infrared channel 4 and highlighted the dust in light red over a tan background. The red over the mountains was clouds and not dust. The inset image is from Google Earth and shows what the landcover looks like near the dust source area.

A few dust plumes appeared on the DOT cameras operating on I-10 in Hidalgo county. I was monitoring the mile marker 11 and 12 cameras on Saturday and plumes appeared to be the typical "here one moment, gone the next" types. Here are a couple that I grabbed from website.