Enjoy Today's Weather - Lots of Wind & Dust Sun & Mon.

Enjoy today's weather because Sunday and Monday are not looking too good for us. Southwesterly winds are forecast to increase tomorrow with gusts generally in the 40 mph range tomorrow, and the 40-60 mph range on Monday. Areas of blowing dust will also plague parts of the area, and on Monday also. 

Today and Sunday is going to be downright hot with afternoon highs in the low-mid 90's. So blast furnace weather has returned to SE NM. A cold front will sweep eastward through the state Sunday night and Monday morning. Monday and Tuesday will be cooler with highs generally in the upper 60's to the low 70's. 

Rainfall/Drought Status Update.

No rain is expected to fall today as we end the month of March. Typically March is one of the driest months of the year and this year has lived up to that reputation.

 I recorded .05" for the month here at my home in Carlsbad, which brings my year to date total to .38". The normal 30-year (1981 - 2010) Jan - Mar average for the Carlsbad Climate Coop Station is 1.51". The normal 30-year (1981 - 2010) Jan - Mar average for the Carlsbad Airport is 1.42". 

We entered the current Exceptional Drought in Oct 2010. My rainfall for Oct 2010 - Mar 2012 now stands at 6.35". The normal 30-year (1981 - 2010) Oct 2010 - Mar 2012 average for the Carlsbad Climate Coop Station is 17.28". The normal 30-year (1981 - 2010) Oct 2010 - Mar 2012 average for the Carlsbad Airport is 17.53". 

 The Carlsbad Airport ASOS has recorded a whopping total of 3.86" of rain since Oct 2010. Using the 30-year rainfall normal's (1981 - 2010), the Carlsbad Airport rainfall is running some 13.67" below normal for the eighteen month period. 

So, here at my home I am running some 11" behind what would be considered the normal average rainfall for the past eighteen months, using the 30-year averages. My rainfall totals here at my home is one of the wetter ones here locally over the past eighteen months.

 Many stations in SE NM have recorded eighteen month rainfall totals of between 3" - 5". Long term average yearly rainfall (100-110 years), for the Pecos Valley is generally around 12". Using the long term rainfall averages, most of SE NM continues to run behind some 12" - 15" over the past eighteen months. No short term relief is in sight.

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Sunday Looks Nasty - Hot Dry & Windy.

Southeastern New Mexico Weather.

Today's New Mexico Severe Weather Awareness Week topic is "Staying Informed." Here  is the new National Weather Service Mobile App for your phones. You can get the very latest local weather info, along with the up to date warnings and watches for anywhere in the U.S.

Continued hot and dry...I'm starting to sound like a broken record already. I hope that this recent trend of high temperatures near 90-degrees for the past week isn't an indicator of what our summer is going to be like. Most of southeastern New Mexico will see afternoon high temps near 90 today, and the low 90's on Saturday and Sunday. A few of us may even see the mid 90's.

March arrived like a lion and unfortunately April will do the same on Sunday. A strong mid-upper level trough of low pressure is forecast to sweep across the state Sunday and Monday. So get ready for a windy and dusty Sunday in southeastern New Mexico. Southwesterly-westerly winds will likely gust up into the 45-60 mph neighborhood on Sunday, and perhaps on Monday as well. 

Critically Dangerous Fire Weather Conditions are also expected Sunday and Monday.

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2012 Eddy County NM Skywarn Operations.

Eddy County Skywarn Spotters.

On behalf of the Midland National Weather Service Office, Pat Vesper the Midland National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist, and Joel Arnwine the Eddy County Emergency Manager, I would like to thank each Skywarn Storm Spotter here in Eddy County for your help and dedication to our local Skywarn Program. Your spotter reports are invaluable to the National Weather Service, and are very much needed and appreciated. Thank you for your time and contributions to the program. I am looking forward to working with you again this year. Good luck out there and please stay safe.

It has been awhile since we have experienced a severe thunderstorm here in Eddy County. This can be directly attributed to the ongoing historical drought that continues to grip the local area. Last year was uneventful severe weather-wise in Eddy County. My personal feeling is that this year will be different. I believe that we will see outbreaks of severe thunderstorms along and east of the dryline this spring, as it wobbles in and out of southeastern New Mexico. In fact this has already happened near the state line.

If it has been awhile since you have attended one of our local Skywarn Storm Spotter Training Classes, please consider attending one of the two classes scheduled (see the flyer above) in April. It never hurts to have a refresher course and see if there is something new you can learn. I encourage you to bring your family and friends along with you as well.

Remember you can submit your spotter reports online via this link. Your information will go directly to the Midland National Weather Service Forecasters, and will be available to them almost immediately.

Local Skywarn Net Operations.

For the past five years we have conducted a local Skywarn Amateur Radio Net here in Eddy County. This has been centered around our Amateur Radio Skywarn Spotters utilizing our local Amateur Radio Repeaters. Effective this year we will no longer conduct this local Skywarn Net here in Eddy County. I appreciate your help with our local Skywarn Net Control Operations over the past five years, thank you.

Instead, all of our Eddy County Skywarn Amateur Radio Operators will be directed to contact our Regional Skywarn Net Controllers located at the Midland National Weather Service Office during Spotter Activation's. Spotter Activation's in Eddy County will be centered around a Severe Thunderstorm Watch, or a Tornado Watch that includes Eddy County. The idea is to bring Eddy County into line with the rest of the Midland National Weather Service Counties, who are already utilizing this process during Skywarn Spotter Activation's.

All Eddy County Amateur Radio Storm Spotters are directed to please contact the Midland National Weather Service Skywarn Net Controllers during Skywarn Spotter Activations. For now please do this by using the West Texas Connection, via the Maljamar repeater ( 442.075), or the Dark Canyon repeater (147.120).

 I will email you on those days that Spotter Activations appear likely, notifying you to contact the Midland National Weather Service Amateur Radio Net Controllers. Their call sign is W5MAF.

 Remember, Net Control Operations will only be in effect during a Severe Thunderstorm Watch, or a Tornado Watch. Please submit a spotter report anytime you encounter severe weather here in Eddy County regardless whether or not you are able to contact the Net Controllers. Severe weather sometimes happens when Spotter Activation has not been called for. If you are unable to get into the West Texas Connection, then please give the Midland National Weather Service Forecasters a phone call, or submit a spotter report online.

Five New Amateur Radio Repeaters.

Eddy County now has in operation five new Amateur Radio Repeaters. These Repeaters are include: The Loop Repeater (147.280), the 12-Mile Repeater (442.450), the Queen Repeater (147.300), the Loving Repeater (147.360), and the Hope Repeater (147.380).

Current plans according to Joel Arnwine, the Eddy County Emergency Manager, and I are to utilize these five new Repeaters as our principle Skywarn Amateur Radio Repeaters during Skywarn Activations here in Eddy County in the near future. Joel is working on tying these new Repeaters into the West Texas Connection. Once this process has been completed, I will inform you of the change.

 This new system of Repeaters is a great asset to Eddy County. I am looking forward to utilizing this new system during our local Skywarn Activation's. Please feel free to talk on these new Repeaters. Its important that we test them now, before severe weather arrives, to find out if we have any problems out there that need to be corrected. If you have any questions concerning these new Repeaters please contact Mr. Arnwine at 575-885-3581, or email him at jarnwine@eddyoem.com.

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Uneventful Weather Until Sunday.

This week (March 25-30) has been designated by the Albuquerque National Weather Service Office as "Severe Weather Awareness Week In New Mexico." Today's special video presentation covers "Hail and Thunderstorm Winds."

Unusually warm temperatures will continue to dominate our local weather right on into the weekend. We will continue to see our afternoon high temperatures climb up into the upper 80's to near 90 today and Friday. Saturday looks to be downright hot with highs ranging from near 90 to the low 90's. A few mid 90-degree readings will also be possible.

As a potent mid-upper trough of low pressure swings into New Mexico Sunday, the surface pressure gradient across the eastern and southeastern plains will tighten up. Very strong winds aloft will mix downward to the surface Sunday afternoon. Another high wind and blowing dust event looks like it is shaping up across the state Sunday, especially along and east of the mountains. Southwesterly-westerly winds may gust up into the 45-60 mph range across southeastern New Mexico.

Critically Dangerous to potentially Extremely Critically Dangerous Fire Weather Conditions will return Sunday. There will be the potential for the rapid spread and growth of any wildland fire that should accidentally break out across parts of the local area. 

A Pacific cold front will sweep eastward across the state by Sunday night so Monday and Tuesday will cooler weather with highs in the 70's across the local area. 

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Very Warm Weather To Continue - Windy Wx Returns By Sunday.

Our current stretch of unusually warm and tranquil late March weather will continue into the weekend. Our afternoon high temperatures are forecast to hover in the upper 80's to near 90 across the southeastern plains into the weekend. A few isolated t-storms may fire along the dryline near the NM/TX state line this afternoon, and perhaps again tomorrow, but overall rain remains an elussive commodity for most of us. 

Our next weather maker looks like it will arrive by Sunday in the form of a mid-upper level trough of low pressure, that is forecast to swing eastward across the state. This mornings 12Z/6 AM MDT GFS computer model forecast depicts a 90-100 knot jet at the 500 millibar level, and a 50-75 knot jet at the 700 millibar level, nosing into the area Sunday afternoon. 

When you combine these strong mid-upper level winds with a tightening surface pressure gradient, an approaching Pacific cold front, surface temperatures near 90, then it appears that another high wind and blowing dust event will rake the local area Sunday. This would also mean that the fire weather danger would escalate also. 

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Severe Weather Awareness Week - Today's Topic "Severe T-Storms & Tornadoes."

Tornado Awareness
Severe thunderstorms are defined by the National Weather Service as downdraft winds in excess of 58 miles an hour and/or hail 1 inch in diameter or greater.

Severe thunderstorms are reported each year in all New Mexico counties. Severe thunderstorms peak in the east during April through June and statewide July through August.

The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma issues a SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH to give you advance notice that severe thunderstorms are possible in your area. This gives you time to make preliminary plans for moving to a safe location if a severe thunderstorm warning is issued. The SPC also issues convective outlooks (see below) for days 1 through 3.
SPC Day 1 Convective OutlookSPC Day 2 Convective OutlookSPC Day 3 Convective Outlook
A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING is an urgent announcement that a severe thunderstorm has been reported or is imminent and warns you to take cover. Severe thunderstorm warnings are issued by local NWS offices.

What you can do before a storm strikes...
  • Know the county you are located in and the names of the major nearby cities or towns.
  • Severe weather warnings and statements are issued by county and reference major cities.
  • Check the latest weather forecast and hazardous weather outlook.
  • Watch for signs of an approaching thunderstorm.
  • If a storm is approaching, tune to NOAA Weather Radio and/or AM/FM radio.
  • Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are imminent. This is your best way to avoid being caught in a dangerous situation.
When thunderstorms approach...
  • REMEMBER if you can hear thunder, you are close enough to a storm to be struck by lightning.
  • If possible, move to a sturdy building or hard top automobile.
  • If safe shelter is not available, find a low spot away from trees, fences, and poles.
  • Squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet, place your hands on your knees with your head between them.
  • Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact with the ground.
  • Do not take shelter in small sheds, rock outcroppings, under isolated trees, or in convertible automobiles.
  • If boating or swimming, get out of boats and away from the water, get to land and find shelter immediately.
  • When boating, always stay tuned to the latest weather reports and return to safe harbor before the strong winds arrive.
  • Stay away from windows and go to the safest location on the lowest level of your home.
  • Unplug unnecessary appliances and only use the phone for emergencies.
  • Mobile homes are especially vulnerable to the high winds of a thunderstorm and are subject to overturning and rolling if not properly anchored to the ground. As a minimum, the frame should be secured with heavy steel straps. Heavy straps should also go over the top of the home with both frame and over the top ties secured in concrete footings.
Tornado Awareness
A tornado is defined as a violently rotating column of air that is touching the ground. Tornado wind speeds vary from 40 miles an hour for the weakest up to 300 miles an hour or greater for the most violent.Tornadoes are most common in eastern New Mexico in the spring, but they can occur anywhere. There have been tornado deaths in western areas of the state and near mountain communities. Here's some facts on tornadoes (and hail) in New Mexico.

The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma issues a TORNADO WATCH to give you advance notice that tornadoes are possible in your area. This gives you time to make preliminary plans for moving to a safe location if a tornado warning is issued.

A TORNADO WARNING is an urgent announcement that a tornado has been reported or is imminent and warns you to take cover immediately. The following are instructions on what to do when a tornado warning has been issued for your area or whenever a tornado threatens: IN HOMES OR SMALL BUILDINGS:
  • Act quickly; seconds save lives.
  • Go to the basement (if available) or to an interior room on the lowest floor, such as a closet or bathroom.
  • If possible, get under a sturdy table or workbench.
  • Wrap yourself in overcoats or blankets to protect yourself from flying debris.
  • Be sure to stay clear of any threat of flying glass.
  • ABANDON THEM IMMEDIATELY!! Most deaths occur in cars and mobile homes. If you are in either of those locations, leave them and go to a substantial structure or designated tornado shelter.
  • Mobile homes provide no shelter in a tornado regardless of how well tied down, and should be abandoned for a storm shelter.
  • if you live in a mobile home, be sure you have a plan of safe action should the weather become threatening.
  • If no shelter is available, lie flat in a ditch or depression in the ground and use your hands to cover your head.
  • Go to interior rooms and halls on the lowest floor. Stay away from glass enclosed places or areas with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums and warehouses. See the left figure for an example of where to go in a school. Crouch down and cover your head as shown in the right figure.
  • Go to interior small rooms or halls. Stay away from exterior walls or glassy areas.
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Severe Weather Awareness Week - Today's Topic "NM Hazards."

Tornado Awareness
Special Web Briefing - Watches & Warnings.

What Types of Severe Weather Can I Expect in New Mexico?
  • All 32 counties in New Mexico experience severe thunderstorms producing high winds, large hail, deadly lightning, and heavy rains at some time during the year.

  • During the spring, from April through June, storms are at a peak mainly in the eastern areas of the state. Storms become more numerous statewide from July through August.

  • Tornadoes have been verified in most New Mexico counties. The highest risk of tornadoes is in the east during April through July, but tornadoes are possible with any thunderstorm. New Mexico averages about 10 tornadoes in a year. For example, on October 21, 2010, a tornado tracked just north of Roswell. A significant tornado outbreak occurred on May 23, 2010 across eastern Union County. http://www.srh.noaa.gov/abq/?n=climonhigh2010maysigevents

  • New Mexico experiences mostly weak, short-lived tornadoes. Strong tornadoes, while rare, are possible and occur about once every 10 years.

  • New Mexico's complex terrain favors the formation of numerous small landspouts, a weak and short-lived variation of the tornado similar to a dust devil. Landspouts may form without the presence of a strong thunderstorm.
  • Tornadoes can severely damage large and small buildings.

  • Hail with flash flooding becomes a threat for central and western New Mexico from June through September.

  • Hail can also be a killer.
Here are some more tornado and hail facts for New Mexico...
  • Seventy-five (75) percent of severe storms with tornadoes occur in eastern New Mexico and are most likely to occur between April and July. However, the latest tornado fatalities in New Mexico occurred on March 23, 2007 when two people died, 1 near Clovis (and 33 were injured) and one in Quay County. Another fatality occurred west of Albuquerque in October 1974 and a rare winter tornado was reported southwest of Roswell in December 1997. This shows that tornadoes can be deadly at anytime and nearly anywhere within the state, even at both low and high elevations.

  • The Cimarron tornado on July 25, 1996 caused nearly 2 million dollars in damage, but fortunately only 6 injuries.

  • Other tornadoes that caused multiple injuries include: Carlsbad 1992 (6 injured), Maxwell 1964 (1 dead, 8 injured), Philmont Scout Ranch near Cimarron 1960 (34 injured), Wagon Mound 1930 (3 dead, 19 injured) and Logan 2007 (12 injured).

  • Most counties across the eastern half of the state will see large hail ranging from golf ball to softball at least 6 to 8 times during the spring and also during the summer thunderstorm season.

  • Smaller hail is much more frequent and common in all counties across the east.

  • Counties in the central and western areas will see damaging hail at least twice each year. Hail the size of baseballs or softballs has been reported near Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces within the past 3 to 6 years. The Socorro hail storm in October 2004 caused nearly 40 million dollars in damage from baseball sized hail.

    The tables below illustrate the frequency of tornadoes and hail by month and by hour of the day from 1959 to 2010..

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Severe Weather Awareness Week - Today's Topic "Skywarn".

The SKYWARN Program
SKYWARN is a public safety partnership between the National Weather Service (NWS), local emergency managers (EMs) and the general public. The NWS provides training to storm spotters while the EMs are more involved with the organization and logistical end of scheduling training and organizing the groups. The NWS works closely with emergency managers and officials across New Mexico to organize and schedule spotter training classes each year. For a listing of presentations, please visit the SKYWARN Schedule page.

Typically, the NWS calls the local EM to activate area spotters when significant or widespread severe weather is expected. Once activated, spotter groups relay their reports through the EM or his designee to the NWS. This implies that spotters will have rapid two-way field communications (e.g. law enforcement, highway department workers, volunteer or professional fire fighters and local amateur radio operators working with amateur radio emergency services (ARES) groups). We also welcome individuals that wish to operate as independent SKYWARN participants and who can report from their home and/or while in the field.

Each year, the NWS and American Radio Relay League (ARRL) organize a special SKYWARN Recognition Day. It celebrates the contributions that volunteer SKYWARN radio operators make to the NWS. During the full day event, SKYWARN operators visit NWS offices and contact other radio operators across the world.
The critical common element will be a capability to maintain communications with one of our forecast offices. To that end, spotters are encouraged to obtain an amateur radio license in order to participate in ARES SKYWARN groups. This ensures rapid and direct communication with our office, using a well organized amateur radio repeater system. Those SKYWARN participants who are independent of more formal groups call NWS Albuquerque, El Paso or Midland with field reports whenever hazardous weather is observed. If you agree to be added to our spotter list, then NWS personnel may, at times, initiate a call to you or call you directly once they are aware that you are available and reporting from a field location.
The NWS Amateur Radio Program
The NWS Albuquerque office, located on the west side of the Albuquerque Sunport airport, has both 2M and 70CM amateur radio. Vanity call WX5ABQ (WX weather, region 5, and ABQ international identifier for Albuquerque airport and NWS office) is normally used whenever the station is on the air.

For SKYWARN, the NWS offices primarily use the MegaLink repeater system which provides coverage into most of the NWS office's county warning areas. The Albuquerque office may also use several of the Upper Rio FM Society repeaters (146.940 or 146.900) as well as other local repeaters from near Santa Fe (147.200 or 147.300), Los Alamos (145.190), Bernalillo-Rio Rancho (147.100), Belen (146.700) and Socorro (146.680) whenever severe weather threatens along the Rio Grande Valley and over west central New Mexico.

Although we do have a number of staff licensed to operate the amateur stations at all three field offices, there are times when these licensed personnel are not on duty and times when other duties prevent us from monitoring the amateur radio. A guest operator may then be called in to assist us. If you can't raise us directly on the radio, you may check station status or request station activation with a phone call to the toll-free number at the Albuquerque office: 1-888-386-7637 or via the Upper Rio FM auto-patch using codes 365 or 9365 (after hours emergency phone patch). For more general SKYWARN information for West Texas, click here.

Spotters can contribute snow and road condition reports as well as heavy rain and severe thunderstorm reports. We encourage both home location reporting and reports from spotters that may be traveling across the state.

Have you designated a central contract point within a amateur spotter group? It's usually best to have one to two folks designated as primary group contact points. This helps us request spotter activation and then manage reports during an event. It's left up to the group to decide whether to communicate as a group on a local repeater or simplex and then have someone relay reports to us via MegaLINK, other repeater or by phone. However, please let us know which frequency the group uses so we can monitor if possible.
Additional Links
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Severe Weather Awareness Week In NM. March 25-30, 2012.

Severe Weather Awareness Week
The National Weather Service (NWS) has designated March 25 - 30, 2012 as New Mexico Severe Weather Awareness Week. This marks the annual campaign to promote severe thunderstorm, tornado and safety awareness across New Mexico. Short multimedia video clips will be presented each day of the week highlighting a new topic related to severe weather in New Mexico.
Special Multimedia Clips:
  • Sunday, March 25: Introduction
  • Monday, March 26: Review of 2011 Severe Weather Season
  • Tuesday, March 27: Outlooks, Watches and Warnings
  • Wednesday, March 28: Tornadoes and Tornado Safety
  • Thursday, March 29: Hail and Thunderstorm Winds
  • Friday, March 30: Staying Informed
The key to avoiding serious injury or death during a severe thunderstorm or tornado is to start well before severe weather strikes. Develop personal and community severe weather action plans, conduct drills to practice severe weather survival skills, and ensure that your local community has an adequate severe weather warning and reporting system. In addition, be familiar with the hazards that can occur in New Mexico. Learn basic severe weather safety rules and make sure to keep aware of the latest warning and forecast information.

After months of winter weather, Severe Weather Awareness Week is a good time to review thunderstorm safety rules and hazardous weather preparedness plans. It is also an opportune time to conduct severe weather drills throughout your community, at school, at work, in the hospital or health care facility, and in the home. Schools that received a Weather Radio under the NOAA Weather Radio for Public School program could conduct drills and monitor for a special radio test on Wednesday, March 30, 2011 to ensure their radio functions properly.

Emergency managers can prepare their communities for severe weather by conducting safety drills and testing local warning systems, and by ensuring local spotter groups have been organized and have received recent SKYWARN training. Annual severe weather spotter training continues across the state. It's important that your community has trained severe weather spotters. Visit our SKYWARN Page for additional information and the latest training schedule.

The National Weather Service StormReady program offers guidance on preparing communities for hazardous weather. A city or county that has met a minimum standard of severe weather preparedness will be given special recognition as StormReady.

News media and New Mexico emergency managers or anyone needing assistance in severe thunderstorm and tornado safety preparedness and planning are invited to contact one of the following offices for details:
Northern and Central New Mexico (NWS Albuquerque NM)
Kerry Jones - Warning Coordination Meteorologist
(505) 244-9150 Ext. 223
South Central New Mexico (NWS El Paso TX)
John Fausett - Warning Coordination Meteorologist
(575) 589-4088 Ext. 223
Southeastern New Mexico (NWS Midland TX)
Pat Vesper - Warning Coordination Meteorologist
(432) 563-5901 Ext. 223

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