Friday, April 1, 2011

April 1 - Dust alert for Sunday, 4/3

You can thank today's warm weather to a building upper level ridge with northwesterly winds. High temperatures expected around the region include:

Forecast Actual                Old
High (F) High (F)  Location    Record and year
85       89        Deming      86 in 1969
86       87        Las Cruces  87 in 1978
88       88        El Paso     86 in 2002
87       88        Columbus    88 in 1946
87       ??        Lordsburg   89 in 2002

Both Deming and Columbus broke the record for daily high temperature today. Las Cruces and El Paso tied their daily record.

In terms of winds today, we'll probably get a push from the north late this morning to around noon. Below is a 12Z RUC wind forecast for 18 UTC (noon MDT).

I'm not fooling around in saying that Sunday afternoon could be a nasty dust day. The NWS is forecasting winds in the 40 to 43 mph with gusts to 60 mph. Below is from last night's 06Z 80kmGFS run for Sunday afternoon at 00 UTC (6 pm MDT). Looks like we'll get a regional dust storm for all of SW New Mexico and NW Chihuahua on Sunday afternoon.
The Naval Aerosol Analysis & Prediction model is also predicting this as well. See the lower left panel below for the surface dust concentrations on Sunday afternoon.
So far the low elevations of southwest NM will not get precipitation from this storm. Maybe a little in the Gila and across Sierra county Sunday night. Too early to say with much confidence.
As a climate side note, this past March was the second warmest on record. The warmest was back in 1972. The NWS said that March at the El Paso airport station was their warmest on record. No rain was reported in Las Cruces in March. There have been 21 instances of zero precipitation in March in the past 119 years.  Comparing to past March precipitation data, I ranked multi-month cumulative rainfall totals for 3-, 6-, and 9-month periods.  For a 3-month cumulative rainfall, including this March, we are the driest on record.  In the past 3-months we have 0.09”. The next driest 3-month stretch was back in 1904, with only 0.12”. This makes sense since we’ve had no precipitation since the snow on February 2. The maximum 3-month precipitation was 6.20” back in 1915. For a 6-month cumulative we are at the 3rd percentile. For the 9-month cumulative rainfall, we are at the 50th percentile. If we get little to no rain until the monsoon starts, we could break more records.

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