Long Range Models Hinting AT A Significant Winter Storm Next Weekend.


Valid @ 5 PM MST Sunday, Dec 27, 2015.

Valid @ 5 AM MST Sunday, Dec 27, 2015.

Valid @ 5 PM MST Christmas.

Valid @ 5 PM MST Christmas.

Valid @ 11 AM PM MST Sunday, Dec 27, 2015.






This One Would Be Historic Should It Happen.

Normally I don't like going out on a limb this far out in time with a model forecast. Its pretty much a given rule in the world of weather that the models simply don't perform all that well in the week to ten day time frame. But I'm intrigued by the trend that the GFS and ECMWF are hinting at by the end of  Christmas week and into the holiday weekend. Originally they were bringing this storm into New Mexico by next Friday. Now they are pushing it back into next Saturday and Sunday. Not to worry though because I guarantee that they will sing many tunes on this one before they get it right.

Both of these models have been hinting at a whopper of a snow storm for the area off and on for the past couple of days. What are the chances of this coming true? Pretty slim. Twenty three inches of snow in Roswell, seventeen inches in Artesia, and fifteen inches in Carlsbad would be historic. We are talking something in the order of what the 1997 Christmas week storms produced. Tonight's 00Z/5 PM MST run of the ECMWF is just about as crazy as the GFS model in forecasting six inches to a foot of snow for Chaves and Eddy Counties. 

What interests me is that the models keep flirting with this. Don't get your hopes up just yet, and by all means take this one with a huge grain of salt. I think what the models are trying to tell us is that there is the potential for a significant snowstorm in the area (like New Mexico area) in about a week to ten days. Just how strong, where, and for how long, is anybody's guess at this point...if it even happens. If the current model trends continue then it appears we will have a dry and warm Christmas with temps near 70°F.


Without a doubt the El Nino winter of 1987-1988 was one for the record books and one to remember in New Mexico. Since our current El Nino best fits the analog pattern of the 1987-1988 El Nino then lets see what happened in that winter. Southeastern New Mexico saw one of the coldest and snowiest events in our local history during the December 13th-15th winter storm. Listed below are so of the temps, snowfall totals, and seasonal snowfall totals from that season.

Roswell, NM.

Low Temp December 1987 -3°F.
December 1987 Snowfall Total 15.3".
Max Snow Depth On Ground Dec 13th-5th 10".
Storm Snowfall Total Dec 13th-15th, 1987 10.3". 
1987-1988 Seasonal Snowfall Total (Oct - Apr) 32.6".

Artesia, NM.

Low Temp December 1987 -13°F.
December 1987 Snowfall Total 11.8".
Max Snow Depth On Ground Dec 13th-5th 9".
Storm Snowfall Total Dec 13th-15th, 1987 9.0". 
1987-1988 Seasonal Snowfall Total (Oct - Apr) 18.8".

Lakewood, NM.

Low Temp December 1987 -13°F.
December 1987 Snowfall Total 17.8".
Max Snow Depth On Ground Dec 13th-5th 15".
Storm Snowfall Total Dec 13th-15th, 1987 14.8". 
1987-1988 Seasonal Snowfall Total (Oct - Apr) Missing. 

Carlsbad, NM.

Low Temp December 1987 -4°F.
December 1987 Snowfall Total 15.3".
Max Snow Depth On Ground Dec 13th-5th 13".
Storm Snowfall Total Dec 13th-15th, 1987 13.0". 
1987-1988 Seasonal Snowfall Total (Oct - Apr) 25.5".

Tatum, NM.

Low Temp December 1987 -2°F.
December 1987 Snowfall Total Missing.
Max Snow Depth On Ground Dec 13th-5th 10".
Storm Snowfall Total Dec 13th-15th, 1987 11.2". 
1987-1988 Seasonal Snowfall Total (Oct - Apr) Missing".

Hobbs, NM.

Low Temp December 1987 7°F.
December 1987 Snowfall Total 5.6".
Max Snow Depth On Ground Dec 13th-5th 5".
Storm Snowfall Total Dec 13th-15th, 1987 4.5". 
1987-1988 Seasonal Snowfall Total (Oct - Apr) 8.7".

El Paso, TX.

Low Temp December 1987 6°F.
December 1987 Snowfall Total 25.9".
Max Snow Depth On Ground Dec 13th-5th 14".
Storm Snowfall Total Dec 13th-15th, 1987 22.4". 
1987-1988 Seasonal Snowfall Total (Oct - Apr) 32.5".

Capitan, NM.

Low Temp December 1987 -6°F.
December 1987 Snowfall Total 20.6".
Max Snow Depth On Ground Dec 13th-5th 12".
Storm Snowfall Total Dec 13th-15th, 1987 13.5". 
1987-1988 Seasonal Snowfall Total (Oct - Apr) 80.8".

Ruidoso, NM.

Low Temp December 1987 -8°F.
December 1987 Snowfall Total 35.4".
Max Snow Depth On Ground Dec 13th-5th 24".
Storm Snowfall Total Dec 13th-15th, 1987 29.3". 
1987-1988 Seasonal Snowfall Total (Oct - Apr) 81.9".

Cloudcroft, NM.

Low Temp December 1987 -6°F.
December 1987 Snowfall Total 22.0".
Max Snow Depth On Ground Dec 13th-5th 15".
Storm Snowfall Total Dec 13th-15th, 1987 15.0". 
1987-1988 Seasonal Snowfall Total (Oct - Apr) 76.5".

Elk, NM.

Low Temp December 1987 -12°F.
December 1987 Snowfall Total 31.5".
Max Snow Depth On Ground Dec 13th-5th 24".
Storm Snowfall Total Dec 13th-15th, 1987 24.0". 
1987-1988 Seasonal Snowfall Total (Oct - Apr) 53.0".


December 12th, 1987 - While a developing winter storm began to spread snow across New Mexico into Colorado, high winds ushered unseasonably cold air into the southwestern states. Winds in California gusted to 60 mph in the Sacramento River Delta, and in the San Bernardino Valley. (The National Weather Summary).

December 13th, 1987 - A major winter storm produced high winds and heavy snow in the Southern Rockies and the Southern High Plains. Snowfall totals in New Mexico ranged up to 25 inches at Cedar Crest, with up to three feet of snow reported in the higher elevations. Winds of 75 mph, with gusts to 124 mph, were reported northeast of Albuquerque NM. El Paso TX was buried under 22.4 inches of snow, including a single storm record of 16.8 inches in 24 hours. The snowfall total surpassed their previous record for an entire winter season of 18.4 inches. Record cold was experienced the next three nights as readings dipped into the single numbers. High winds ushering unseasonably cold air into the southwestern U.S. gusted to 100 mph at Grapevine CA. (The National Weather Summary) (Storm Data).

December 14th, 1987-  A powerful storm spread heavy snow from the Southern High Plains to the Middle Mississippi Valley, and produced severe thunderstorms in the Lower Mississippi Valley. During the evening a tornado hit West Memphis TN killing six persons and injuring two hundred others. The tornado left 1500 persons homeless, and left all of the residents of Crittendon County without electricity. Kansas City MO was blanketed with 10.8 inches of snow, a 24 hour record for December, and snowfall totals in the Oklahoma panhandle ranged up to 14 inches. Strong winds, gusting to 63 mph at Austin TX, ushered arctic cold into the Great Plains, and caused considerable blowing and drifting of snow. (Storm Data) (The National Weather Summary).

December 15th, 1987- A major winter storm hit the Great Lakes Region, intensifying explosively as it crossed northern Illinois. High winds and heavy snow created blizzard conditions in southeastern Wisconsin. Winds gusted to 73 mph, and snowfall totals ranged up to 17 inches at LaFarge. The barometric pressure at Chicago IL dropped three quarters of an inch in six hours to 28.96 inches, a record low reading for December. Up to a foot of snow blanketed northern Illinois, and winds in the Chicago area gusted to 75 mph. O'Hare Airport in Chicago was closed for several hours, for only the fourth time in twenty years. High winds derailed train cars at Avon IN. Light winds and partly sunny skies were reported near the center of the storm, a feature typical of tropical storms. (The National Weather Summary) (Storm Data).

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