Area Forecast Discussion
Issued by NWS Albuquerque, NM
FXUS65 KABQ 280558 AAB
Area Forecast Discussion...UPDATED
National Weather Service Albuquerque NM
1158 PM MDT Mon Mar 27 2017
06Z TAF CYCLE
Closed upper level low dropping south through southern UT and
northern AZ tonight. Relatively moist southwest flow aloft over NM
combining with lift from the low to produce scattered light showers
with snow showers above 9500 feet. Showers will continue overnight
with an increase in coverage across central NM toward sunrise Tuesday.
West to northwest winds will strengthen Tuesday afternoon as the
associated surface low intensifies over east central NM. Favored area
for significant precipitation, areas of mt obscurations and MVFR/IFR
cigs/vsbys along with lcl LIFR conditions will be found across
north-central and northeast NM Tuesday afternoon through 29/06z.
.PREV DISCUSSION...327 PM MDT Mon Mar 27 2017...
The storm track remains active across New Mexico this week. A pair of
systems through the weekend will bring periods of rain and high
elevation snow. The main impacts from the first system will be across
northeast New Mexico Tuesday night through Wednesday morning with
potential for heavy snow across the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and
Raton Pass. Good lower elevation rains will be possible for much of
the plains. Another system may impact New Mexico Friday through the
weekend with another round of valley rains and mountain snows.
Temperatures will generally be below normal thanks to the increase in
cloud cover and precipitation.
A difficult forecast this afternoon due to models diverging on the
track of the next two storm systems. The first storm system is
already impacting NM as showers have developed across the northwest.
The HRRR and GFS have been showing a band of precip focusing across
the ABQ and SAF metro areas this evening and overnight, but the
latest HRRR may be slightly shifting eastward over the higher
terrain of the Sandia/Manzanos and Sangres. Nonetheless, should be
rather light with snow levels around 8000 feet. Additionally, these
same models develop another band of precip across the eastern plains
toward sunrise in an area of weak surface convergence and on the nose
of the upper jet.
Questions arise tomorrow regarding the track of the system. The GFS
takes the center of the low across northern NM and by 06Z Wed,
centers the low over NE NM. Meanwhile, the ECMWF dives the low
southeastward and by 06Z Wed, centers the low over southeast NM. The
NAM low is closer to the GFS position, while the GEM is closer to the
ECMWF. All ensemble means also favor their respective operational
model, so not much help there. The 120-130kt jet on the back side of
the system suggests that the EC/GEM may be onto something. The
differences between the low position will have significant impacts on
where precipitation will fall. The GFS outcome will favor
precipitation across the northern mts and northeast NM, whereas the
ECMWF will favor precip across much of the eastern plains. In either
case, the snow levels will be low enough (~7500-8000ft) for
potentially significant snow amounts across the Sangre de Cristo Mtns
and the Raton Ridge. Thus will hoist a winter storm watch for these
areas starting at noon Tuesday. At lower elevations, rain will be the
p-type. Periods of heavy snow and moderate rain are possible which
may reduce visibilities.
Precipitation will wane Wednesday evening, then shortwave ridging
will move over the area on Thursday. Thursday`s temperatures will
warm 5-15 degrees over Wednesday`s highs.
The break will be short-lived as another storm system will be
impacting NM Friday into the weekend. Initially models agree on the
track of this system, shifting the low over the Four Corners on
Friday night. Thereafter, however, the EC quickly scoots the low
across northern NM, where the GFS dives the low southward along the
AZ/NM border, then eastward along the Mexico border. Thus,
significant differences in precipitation potential and timing. Too
early to say which model has a better handle on this system. Another
system may be in store early next week. Needless to say, this is a
low confidence forecast this afternoon.
An unsettled weather period is still on target beginning tonight
over NM as an upper level low takes shape over the area and moves
slowly east/southeast through Wednesday. Scattered valley rain and
high terrain snow will gradually develop over the state tonight then
spread into most of the region Tuesday. A few storms are possible
just about anywhere. Wetting precip is possible for central and
western NM with greater potential for moderate to heavy precip for
the eastern plains Wednesday and Wednesday night. The stronger west
winds that were advertised Tuesday are now more into southern NM as
the parent upper wave is trending farther south on latest guidance.
Meanwhile, temperatures will become cold enough for snow, possibly
heavy, over the Sangre de Cristo Mts and the Raton Ridge. Winds will
become northerly all areas as the low exits into the plains.
Flow aloft will become more zonal Thursday with drier and warmer air
shifting into NM. Spotty marginal critical conditions are likely
along and south of Highway 60. Winds will remain elevated over ridge
tops Thursday night ahead of the next upper wave. Model guidance is
really falling out of agreement with this next system which shows a
slower and farther northwest placement initially late Friday. As a
result, a dry slot with deep mixing and unstable conditions focuses
over the southeastern third of the area. Critical conditions are
possible Friday afternoon for the east central and southeast plains
and perhaps the southern fringes of the middle Rio Grande Valley and
the south central highlands.
Any critical conditions will end from west to east as the upper wave
moves into NM Friday night through Sunday. As noted, confidence is
decreasing on the timing and placement of the overall feature but
regardless a cooler period with higher humidity, cloud cover, and at
least scattered showers is likely for the weekend.
Winter Storm Watch from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday
afternoon for the following zones... NMZ512>515-527.