Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Feb. 16 - High winds were forecasted for today. Today's low temperature at NMSU was 33F and our high was 80F. The current record for this day is 79F from 2000. So we broke the record high for this day by one degree. Deming reached 77F today and the high in Santa Teresa was 80.

My guess is that the highest winds are going to be to the west of Las Cruces. So whatever we see in Las Cruces will be from dust sources along I-10 in and around Luna County but not local sources. Based on the RUC model we'll start to see winds increase around noon and more like 1 or 2 pm in areas to the west. Below is the wind forecast for 20 UTC (1 pm).
Below is the forecast for 21 UTC (2 pm) that looks very similar to 1 pm.
Our campus enhanced monitoring includes fungal sampling shown in the foreground of the following photo. Adjacent to this are the laser ceilometer, particle sizer, and PM2.5 DustTrak. We are also collecting 1-minute particle size data at a location in the east side of town in the Highrange Community.
So far most of the regional "backbone" monitoring sites have skirted the highest winds. When I mean "backbone" I refer to those sites that are permanent and operated by the state air quality management agencies. We saw elevated PM at the NMED Anthony station 8 am but that wasn't due to the afternoon winds. Anyway it's worth looking at this since we can see a build-up over a couple of hours before 8 am. The spike PM10 of 228 µg/m3 at noon was probably due to winds since the wind gusts reached 8 m/s at the time.
Winds peaked at the Suuland Park City Yard site in the evening creating the highest hourly PM10. At 8 pm the hourly PM10 concentration were 287 µg/m3 and PM2.5 was 18 µg/m3.

I noticed from afternoon GOES images that dust was flying off of White Sands. I first saw it around 23:02 UTC (4:02 pm MST). The image from NCAR below is from 23:45 UTC.
Highest winds in our region were in the range of 6 to 7 m/s so not that much dust was lifted. In the evening hours winds have died down considerably but we expect a repeat performance on Thursday.

The AQI forecast for Thursday is indicating an area of moderate air quality in the Paso del Norte.

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