Area Forecast Discussion
Issued by NWS Albuquerque, NM

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FXUS65 KABQ 201757 AAB

Area Forecast Discussion...UPDATED
National Weather Service Albuquerque NM
1057 AM MST Sat Jan 20 2018

Models depict a NNE to SSW oriented band of rain and higher elevation
snow showers with lower VFR, MVFR and local IFR conditions passing
eastward through western areas late this aftn and early evening, then
through central areas from late evening until about 09Z. Downslope
flow on the plains should cause showers to diminish before reaching
the E central and far eastern plains. In the wake of the band, areas
of snow are expected to linger from the central mountain chain
westward until mid day Sunday. Then, wrap around snow associated with
an exiting upper level low pressure system is forecast to persist
from the northern mountains eastward through Sunday aftn. In
addition, SW winds that become breezy to windy today will persist
especially in elevated locations tonight, before strong winds shift
out of the NW and become widespread with a Pacific cold front early
Sunday. Wind gusts could peak over 50 kt across E central and SE
areas on Sunday aftn.



.PREV DISCUSSION...335 AM MST Sat Jan 20 2018...
An unsettled weather pattern will take shape over northern and
central New Mexico this weekend as a potent disturbance aloft
approaches from the Pacific. Warmer than average temperatures will be
possible again today with near record highs possible in portions of
the far eastern plains, and windy and dry conditions will lead to
critical fire weather conditions there this afternoon. Late this
afternoon into this evening the upper level disturbance will move
over western New Mexico, bringing rain, colder air, and eventually
snow. Through the overnight light snow will impact lower elevations
in western to central New Mexico with a few to several inches of
accumulation expected in the higher elevations, especially in far
northern New Mexico. Windy conditions will accompany this
disturbance, and cold and blustery conditions will persist into the
day Sunday with precipitation shifting to the far northern tier of
the state. Dry, but breezy and cool, conditions are expected Monday.
Drier and more tranquil conditions are then expected by middle of
next week.


Challenging forecast package this morning, due to the hair-splitting
decisions between winter weather and wind statements. Some updates
will be rolled out with this forecast package, but additional updates
will be coming during the day shift.

The encroaching upper level trough is rolling over southern CA, on
track to sweep over AZ this afternoon before overtaking the NM-CO
border tonight into early Sunday. Wind forecast has trended down
overall for our forecast area today, but significant wind impacts
will still be a concern going into tonight and Sunday. Enough wind
and dry conditions, along with near-record high temperatures in the
eastern plains have warranted a Red Flag Warning for this afternoon.
Elsewhere breezy to windy conditions will also be found, but
temperatures will not be as notably warmer than normal. By late this
afternoon, precipitation will be crossing the AZ-NM border.

As precipitation sweeps eastward into NM this evening along the
leading edge of the Pacific front, a belt of strong frontal winds
will accompany. In addition to the stout winds with the surface
front, the winds at 700 mb are progged to exceed 40 to 60 kt in
southwestern, central, and portions of eastern NM tonight into
Sunday. Precipitation will initially fall as mostly rain in lower
elevations this evening, but the starkly colder airmass will quickly
change precip to a frozen state just before the bulk of the
frontogenetically-forced precip diminishes. While lower elevation
precipitation amounts are expected to be quite light this evening and
into the early morning hours, the rapid onset of freezing
temperatures could prove to be very impactful with road surfaces and
travel conditions observing abrupt deterioration. In the mountains,
especially the high northern peaks, accumulations will be more
substantial due to better orographics and dynamics closer to the core
of the deepening upper low. Have opted to issue a suite of winter
weather advisories while converting the winter storm watch to a
warning for the northern mountains.

The high wind watch remains as-is, and subsequent shifts will have
to decide whether to convert this to a warning for tonight into
Sunday. At this point, there is high confidence that most areas
within the high wind watch will indeed observe severe gusts to 60
mph, however some light wintry precipitation in the central zones
could warrant a winter weather advisory there due to the flash freeze
and travel concerns outlined above. Otherwise Sunday will be a cold,
blustery, and an utterly unpleasant day for most of the forecast
area. Wintry precip will persist in the northern mountains and areas
surrounding the Raton pass. While it will take on a
showery/convective state, wrap-around dynamics with the upper low
cloud produce a few heavier snow bands in the Sangres and surrounding
high country Sunday. Snow should wane Sunday evening with a chilly
night in store.

Winds will be notably less on Monday, but still brisk in some central
to northwest zones with temperatures creeping closer to normal. Dry
conditions will remain the rule going into Tuesday, despite a short
wave trough moving off of the Pacific waters and crossing the
Rockies. Temperatures will remain within a couple degrees either side
of normal Tuesday, nudging upward a few ticks on Wednesday and again
on Thursday. The next trough passage is expected to arrive Friday
into Saturday with cooler air spilling into the plains. Precipitation
appears to be meager and scant with this system.



Red Flag Warning across the Eastern Plains through the afternoon
until 6:00pm MST due to above normal warmth, low humidity 10 to 15
percent, moderate Haines, and breezy conditions.

Conditions begin deteriorating late today as mountain snow/valley
rain enter into western NM. This system will quickly push east into
the Rio Grande Valley around midnight Sunday with valley rain quickly
switching to snow. By Sunday morning, the front will have pushed to
the TX border, with snow showers remaining over western and central
NM through the day. SW winds strengthen tonight becoming westerly
through the day Sunday with the passage of the front. Strong winds
35-45mph with gusts up to 60mph will be present across the eastern
plains early Sunday, expanding over western NM as northwest flow
builds in Sunday afternoon. This combined with much colder air
advecting behind the FROPA will produce bitter cold wind chills in
the single digits across western NM and the central highlands Sunday

The best chance for snow will lay in the NM San Juans/Tusas Mtns,
western Jemez Mtns, and Sangre de Cristo Mtns where several inches
to a foot are possible. Valley locations across western, central,
and northeastern NM could see a dusting to a couple inches of snow
when all is said and done. Travel conditions, especially for western
NM, could become hazardous during the passage of this system (see
Public Forecast Discussion above for further details). Dry and calm
enter the region for early-mid next week as temperatures warm back
to normal by Tue/Wed.

Ventilation rates fall from excellent this weekend to poor after the
frontal passage early next week. Some areas across the northeast
look to hold onto fair to ventilation rates Monday. Ventilation
rates will remain poor/fair until Friday when the next weather
system enters the region.



High Wind Watch from this evening through Sunday afternoon for the
following zones... NMZ523-524-526-539-540.

Winter Weather Advisory from 8 PM this evening to 4 PM MST Sunday
for the following zones... NMZ511-512-515>522.

Red Flag Warning until 6 PM MST this evening for the following
zones... NMZ104-108.

High Wind Watch from Sunday morning through Sunday afternoon for
the following zones... NMZ533>538.

Winter Weather Advisory from 4 PM this afternoon to noon MST Sunday
for the following zones... NMZ501>509.

Winter Storm Warning from 8 PM this evening to 8 PM MST Sunday for
the following zones... NMZ510-513-514.


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