Tuesday, March 29, 2011

March 29 - Starting the warming trend and light winds today

Looking at the forecasts, I'm seeing a broad upper level ridge remaining over our area until Sunday. This means nice warm days, very dry conditions, some breezy afternoons, and still mornings with inversions that could cause pollutant build-up in the Paso del Norte. We might see ozone starting to pick up at a few locations. The dry conditions also are a concern for wildfires. During this type of airmass we can see dewpoint temperatures drop and relative humidity dip down less than 10 percent. Recently, during one of these dry periods, I saw a RH of about 1 percent. A weak trough is affecting us today and tonight with backdoor cold front creeping in from the east.

Late morning today we should be seeing northerly winds with the strongest in Sierra county
Later in the day we're back to light winds from the west.

The AQI forecast shows good air quality in our region today with an area of moderate in north-central NM.

We saw the return of the evening low wind, high PM at the Sunland Park City Yard station tonight.
A similar situation at the Anthony Elementary with a low wind spike in the evening.

It is spring and we are starting to see the signs of biomass burning from Mexico and Central America. Actually the fires have been going on for over a month but the transport of the smoke has only been obvious since the past few weeks. I again turn to the Naval Aerosol model to look at what they predict in terms of smoke at the surface and aloft. The bottom right plot shows surface smoke concentrations across North America. If we do see impacts the particles are solely in the fine particle fraction with sizes less than 1 micron and typically much less. I expect small impacts in our region but it's all part of the overall haze we see. In southern Texas they are well acquainted with this type of smoke aerosol and sometimes gets intense.

Looking at the models for the rest of this week, I don't see any opportunities for high winds. The next chance could be at the end of this weekend, possibly on Sunday afternoon and maybe Monday.

Again no sign of measurable precipitation for our region over the next week. Us along with southern AZ and west TX continue to dry out. I saw a note from my colleagues in the west coast saying California is having its 3rd wettest March with statewide average snowpack at 168 percent of the April average. Just to add to that, Squaw Valley (8200 feet) has reported 241 inches of snowfall for the month of March 2011 with 265 inches snow depth on Monday. Alpine Meadows reported a snow depth of 315 inches on Saturday March 26 which settled to 304 inches 48 hours later.

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