Area Forecast Discussion
Issued by NWS Albuquerque, NM
FXUS65 KABQ 192355
Area Forecast Discussion
National Weather Service Albuquerque NM
455 PM MST Thu Jan 19 2017
00Z TAF CYCLE
The forecast problem for the 00Z package will be timing
precipitation over the TAF sites west of the Central Mountain
Chain and how low conditions will go. Snow started sooner than
expected at KGUP, which dropped ceilings to IFR at times. Current
thinking is ceilings will fluctuate right at the MVFR/IFR boundary
with more intense periods of snowfall bringing visibility down to
less than one mile at times with conditions improving after 13Z.
KFMN will also see periods of lower visibility with snow showers,
but conditions are expected to remain MVFR.
For KABQ/KAEG/KSAF, precipitation is expected in the 12-16Z time
frame mainly as light snow. Timing again will be an issue, but
all sites are expected to remain VFR-MVFR at this time.
Finally, winds will continue to ramp up over the next few hours,
especially east of the Central Mountain Chain. Expect the highest
winds at KLVS and KTCC after 18Z
.PREV DISCUSSION...316 PM MST Thu Jan 19 2017...
A short-lived ridge of high pressure aloft quickly moved across
New Mexico today, but unsettled weather is quickly taking shape
upstream to the west. A one-two punch of wintry weather will
impact central to western sections of New Mexico tonight through
Saturday with the weather pattern remaining unsettled into next
week as well. The first upper level disturbance will arrive this
evening through early Friday, bringing some precipitation to
central and western New Mexico with more significant precipitation
then expected Friday night into Saturday as the second disturbance
arrives. Cooler temperatures, accumulating mountain snow, and a
mix of rain and snow in the central and western valleys are
expected through this time. Strong winds will also accompany this
pair of upper level disturbances with the higher terrain and
eastern plains observing the strongest gusts.
A tricky forecast is in the works for the next 48 hours as a pair
of upper level perturbations take aim at New Mexico. A short wave
ridge has raced across NM, and the first upstream trough can be
seen digging into AZ and the greater intermountain west. This
feature is already drawing in a healthy swath of Pacific moisture
and forcing with stratiform precipitation expanding over eastern
AZ and now invading western NM. Precipitation is expected to
slowly change from a rain or rain/snow mix to mostly snow in the
mid slope and valley locations this evening with a few inches of
snow accumulation projected over the higher peaks above 8000 feet
in the western half of NM. Given that the next system (late Friday
through Saturday) will pack more of a punch with more impacts,
have opted not to hoist a winter weather advisory for any zones
tonight, but rather will put the focus on late tomorrow through
Saturday with the previously issued winter storm watch. That being
said, some travel impacts from snow are possible near the
continental divide on I-40 and US 550 tonight into early Friday
A lull in precipitation will grace many locales Friday, but it
will be fairly brief-lived with a second round starting in the
afternoon as the next Pacific trough moves inland over the western
states. Thus, within any given zone of the forecast area, overall
clouds and precipitation coverage will vary throughout the day on
Friday with temperatures running 5 to 10 degrees cooler than
today. Snow will begin to turn more steady over the higher terrain
of western and central NM with higher snowfall rates by the late
Moisture and precipitation will blossom even more over central to
western NM Friday night as the second trough aloft propagates over
AZ, driving healthy upper level dynamics into NM. Forecast models
all remain fairly bullish with QPF amounts over the Gila and
Mogollon rim Saturday morning, and some hefty snow totals of a
foot or more could easily be reached on the higher peaks of
southern Catron county. Secondarily, the Sacramento mountains also
look to get into the action with several inches to a foot or more
of accumulation, and many other peaks of central to western NM
will also likely observe several inches. The other concern will
be blowing snow that will further reduce visibilities and
exaggerate snow and travel impacts in the higher terrain, as wind
gusts of 50 to 60 mph are projected for many high terrain zones.
Much of the eastern plains will escape without precipitation due
to downsloping effects, but the winds will still buffet these
areas Friday and Saturday, especially south of the Interstate 40
corridor. By late Saturday, the trough will have deepened into a
low, exiting into west TX around sunset.
Precipitation will steadily wane from west to east with
orographics slowly fading Saturday night. The drier northwest flow
will yield colder overnight temperatures, but not too far from
late January averages.
Yet again, the break from precipitation will be a short-lived one
on Sunday as the flow aloft is expected to quickly turn more
diffluent by late afternoon. This will begin spreading additional
batches of rain and high elevation snow into the northwestern
zones before dusk Sunday evening. Precipitation will then
progressively expand and intensify into Sunday night and Monday
and Monday night once the trough crosses the Land of Enchantment.
Several inches of new snow accumulation appear within the realm of
possibilities for this tertiary storm while temperatures remain
capped and unable to surpass normalcy.
The short lived upper level ridge over the state is currently
weakening as the first Pacific wave crosses into southern NV.
Abundant mid to upper level moisture will surge in from the west
increasing cloud cover and wetting precipitation north and west
tonight. Meanwhile, gusty winds will continue across the eastern
plains overnight with above normal lows, excellent RH recoveries
and good/fair vent rates south of the I-40 corridor.
The first Pacific wave will impact the state tonight through Fri
with persistent wetting precipitation...mainly in the form of
snow/low elevation rain favoring areas west of the central mtn
chain. Snowfall accumulations will be moderate to heavy at times
with the incoming waves. Vent rates will improve area wide because
of an upper level jet crossing central NM helping to raise mixing
heights 6500 to 7500ft. With that being said, surface winds will
increase area wide but the stronger winds will favor high terrain
areas along and east of the central mtn chain Fri aftn. Daytime
RH values will come up Fri but downsloping winds will keep things
a bit drier in the east.
Fri night-Sat...Wetting precipitation with ample cloud cover will
be persistent central and west followed by strong winds central
and east as the second wave impacts the state. Another short term
upper level ridge with a dry mid level intrusion will build over
the state Sat night into Sun before the final wave hammers the
The 3rd and final wave will enter the state early next week as snow
showers impact much of the forecast area except the eastern plains
due to downsloping winds. Extended models still indicate part of the
final wave breaking off and hovering over the area leading to
additional showers and cooler temperatures.
Vent rates will deteriorate across the NE/NC areas but remain good
to excellent areawide Sat, before deteriorating central and west
Sun, becoming spotty on Mon, with improvements central and east Tues.
Wind Advisory until 5 PM MST this afternoon for the following
Winter Storm Watch from Friday morning through Saturday evening for
the following zones... NMZ502-506-508-510>514-516.
Winter Storm Watch from Friday afternoon through Saturday evening
for the following zones... NMZ526.