Area Forecast Discussion
Issued by NWS Albuquerque, NM

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FXUS65 KABQ 281759 AAB

Area Forecast Discussion...UPDATED
National Weather Service Albuquerque NM
1159 AM MDT Tue Mar 28 2017

High level of uncertainty regarding surface wind directions and
speeds today as a mid/upper level low with multiple centers wobbles
east/southeast thru NM. Convective precip is developing over much of
the region and is moving quickly north/northeast. Expect coverage to
increase thru 20Z. Any direct hit will result in excursions to MVFR.
Favored areas will be from the Rio Grande Valley east to the high
plains of eastern NM. The focus will then shift to the development of
a heavy band of precip expected to stretch along the I-40 corridor
north and west into the high terrain of northern NM. Widespread IFR
likely for KTCC, KLVS, and KSAF overnight but timing the onset was
uncertain. Much of northeast NM and the northern mts will see snow,
heavy at times. Very slow clearing will shift southeast thru the
region Wednesday morning.



.PREV DISCUSSION...303 AM MDT Tue Mar 28 2017...
Two Pacific storm systems will impact the Land of Enchantment over
the next 5 days, with the first one currently approaching from over
southern Arizona. Chances for rain, higher elevation snow and
thunderstorms will increase today into tonight. Snow levels will
drop some overnight as precipitation picks up in intensity across the
Northern Mountains, surrounding highlands and the Raton Ridge/
Johnson Mesa. Storm total snow amounts through Wednesday will be in
excess of one foot across the peaks of the Northern Mountains, with
lesser amounts across the surrounding lower elevations. Significant
travel impacts due to heavy snow and winds are possible through
Raton Pass and in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains tonight into
Wednesday. Temperatures will take a dip today as the first system
impacts the state and will stay below normal through Wednesday. Look
for a short lived warm-up on Thursday prior to the second Pacific
storm system, forecast to impact the area Friday through Saturday
and possibly extend into Sunday.


The first upper low of two to impact the state over the next 5 days
is currently over south central Arizona and progressing eastward per
the latest water vapor satellite imagery. Areas of rain and high
elevation snow have already developed across our area, with snow
levels estimated to be around 7500-8000ft currently. A few lightning
strikes were noted early this morning across far western New Mexico,
but a significant increase in lightning activity is expected later
today as lapse rates steepen with the upper low moving directly
overhead. Snow levels will continue to drop as well, but likely only
another 500-1000ft or so. Latest HRRR and NAM12 qpf are rather
bullish for the Albuquerque and Santa Fe Metros later today and this
wet scenario is supported by both the NAM and GFS MOS 1st period
PoPs which are 75 and 91 percent respectively for KABQ. The focus for
significant precipitation is still forecast to shift to the Northern
Mountains and northeast overnight into Wednesday as the upper low
progresses slowly eastward across central New Mexico and interacts
with a strong backdoor frontal push. The higher peaks of the Sangres
are still on track for 12-20", with 8-12" possible at Raton Pass and
on Sierra Grande near Capulin. Needless to say, the watch has been
upgraded to a warning and several nearby zones have been added as
advisories. Strong winds associated with this system will impact the
western higher terrain tonight and much of northeast New Mexico early
Wednesday behind the backdoor front. Wind advisories may be required.
Cooling with this system will keep daytime temperatures below normal
through Wednesday, especially across the Eastern Plains thanks to
the stronger backdoor push.

Look for a short lived warm-up Thursday with a shortwave ridge in
advance of the next upper low, forecast to impact the state Friday
through at least Saturday. The second system will be similar to the
first in terms of track and impacts, but is being modeled slightly
colder with lower snow levels initially. The 00z ECMWF and GFS are in
decent agreement through Saturday, then depart significantly with the
track of the upper low due to upstream differences. Run-to-run
inconsistency from the GFS is high, so am inclined to side with the
ECMWF for now, but our forecast will be a blend of the two for Sunday
and Monday. The main take-away is that the pattern will remain active
beyond Saturday.



Upper level closed low dropping south through AZ this morning.
Scattered showers and mountain snow (above 8000 ft) showers along
with isolated thunderstorms will continue today and tonight as the
upper low moves east into NM. Favored area for significant wetting
rain and heavy mountain snow will shift to the Sangre de Cristos
eastward. Models now generating moderate to strong northwest winds
across the west-central mountains tonight. Will wait and see one
more model run to see if the surface low track is in the same spot
across northwest NM to determine if a wind advisory may be needed
for the western mountains overnight.

A break in between systems continues for Thursday. Southwest winds
ahead of the next closed low increase across the southern half of
the state Friday. Several hours of critical fire weather conditions
may develop across southern portions of the east-central plains
forecast zone Friday afternoon. Forecast models are now in decent
agreement with regard to the next closed upper low forecast to move
in for Friday and Saturday. General model consensus is to take the
low eastward through central NM Saturday with the favored area for
wetting precipitation once again across northeast NM Saturday and
Saturday night. GFS and Canadian models keep the closed low over NM
through Sunday while the ECMWF sends it packing. Split the
difference and left in mainly slight chances for precip Sunday,
particularly along and east of the central mountain chain.

Models then diverge greatly for early next week. ECMWF keeps the
next upper level trough and open wave and to the north of NM while
the GFS and Canadian bring in another deep closed low in from the
west Tuesday. ECWMF has the better skill in the medium forecast
range but can falter at times during the spring transition period.
Time will tell.



Winter Weather Advisory from midnight tonight to noon MDT Wednesday
for the following zones... NMZ523-530>534.

Winter Weather Advisory from 6 PM this evening to 6 PM MDT
Wednesday for the following zones... NMZ516-528-529.

Winter Storm Warning until 6 PM MDT Wednesday for the following
zones... NMZ512>515-527.

Winter Weather Advisory until noon MDT Wednesday for the following
zones... NMZ510-511.


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