Latest Update Concerning Our Potential Major Winter Storm This Coming Christmas Weekend.

First Storm Affecting NM Today Into Wednesday.

Southwesterly-Westerly Winds Are Howling Elsewhere Across New Mexico.

Winter Storm Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories are in effect for parts of northwestern and northern New Mexico today into Wednesday as one winter storm sweeps across the area. The first of several to affect the state...and the big story continues to be this weekends storm. 

High Wind Warnings are in effect for parts of northern and northeastern New Mexico. Wind Advisories remain in effect for many other areas of the state. A High Wind Warning remains in effect for the Guadalupe mountains of Eddy and Culberson Counties through Wednesday. Southwesterly to westerly winds are forecast to gust up to 70 - 85 mph. Travel may become hazardous to dangerous through Guadalupe Pass. 

Bowl Raws Located Just North Of Guadalupe Peak 77 MPH.
Pine Springs 67 MPH.
Guadalupe Pass 66 MPH. 
Sierra Blanca Regional Airport 53 MPH.
Personal Weather Station Near Mayhill 52 MPH. 

This Mornings 12Z/5 AM MST U.S. GFS 500 MB Forecast.
Valid @ 5 AM MST Sunday, Dec 27, 2015.

This Mornings 12Z/5 AM MST European (ECMWF) 500 MB Forecast.
Valid @ 5 AM MST Sunday, Dec 27, 2015.

This Mornings 12Z/5 AM MST Canadian (GEM) 500 MB Forecast.
Valid @ 5 AM MST Sunday, Dec 27, 2015.

Amazing so all three of the long range models continue their trend of being in sync with our upcoming winter storm this holiday weekend. All three bottom it out as a strong closed or closed low south of the state line. Again this track and position is very favorable for the state to get hammered with heavy snows. Given everything falls into place including the needed low and mid level moisture feeds.

Arctic Cold Front Arrives Saturday Afternoon.

This Mornings 12Z/5 AM MST GFS Surface Map Forecast.
Valid @ 5 PM MST Saturday, Dec 26, 2015.

This Mornings 12Z/5 AM MST GFS Surface Map Forecast.
Valid @ 5 PM MST Saturday, Dec 26, 2015.

A strong back door arctic cold front is still forecast by the GFS model to plow southward down the eastern plains of New Mexico and arrive in southeastern New Mexico by sunset Saturday. Excellent low-level easterly upslope flow will quickly saturate the lower levels of the atmosphere behind the front. As temperatures rapidly fall behind the frontal passage any rain that will be falling will quickly change over to snow...some of which is likely to be very heavy Saturday night into at least Sunday.

This Mornings 12Z/5 AM MST GFS Forecast Accumulated Snowfall Totals.
Valid @ 5 PM MST Sunday, Dec 27, 2015.

This Mornings 12Z/5 AM MST GFS Forecast Accumulated Snowfall Totals.
Valid @ 5 PM MST Sunday, Dec 27, 2015.

This Mornings 18Z/11 AM MST GFS Forecast Accumulated Snowfall Totals.
Valid @ 5 PM MST Sunday, Dec 27, 2015.

This Mornings 12Z/5 AM MST GGEM Forecast Accumulated Snowfall Totals. 
Valid @ 5 PM MST Sunday, Dec 27, 2015.

Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Angel Fire, New Mexico.

Cannon Air Force Base - Clovis, New Mexico.

Sierra Blanca Regional Airport - Ruidoso, New Mexico.

Roswell, New Mexico.

This mornings 12Z/  AM MST run of the European (ECMWF) model has backed way off on its forecast snowfall totals for the state by Sunday evening, compared to last night's run. However this model which has a history of being the more reliable of the three continues to generally dump anywhere from 6" to 12" across most of the mountains, and eastern one third of the state.  Its more in line with the GFS totals but has nearly 80% of New Mexico covered in heavy snow 4" or more.The Sacramento mountains could easily end up with a foot or two of snow...and its entirely possible that some locations across the eastern and southeastern plains may see storm totals this high.

Due to the tight pressure gradients that will be present aloft and at the surface there remains some concerns for the possibility of Blizzard conditions developing over portions of the area. This most likely fall in the Saturday night into the Sunday afternoon time frame. Problem areas could be parts of northeastern and eastern New Mexico and the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles. Other portions of New Mexico may also face similar conditions...the mountains and northern areas of the state. 

Provided that the computer forecast models stick to their current forecasts and don't deviate too much between now and the weekend it appears that New Mexico and surrounding areas are in for a Major Winter Storm. Timing of the storm, position of the storm, and how much moisture it will have to work with hold the keys to how much snow falls. This is also true of where the heaviest snows fall.

When it comes to forecasting winter storms in New Mexico there are a lot of "ifs" that come into play. First remember that we are still three to four days out from the beginning of the storm. Any subtle change in the track, speed, and or strength of the storm will have significant impacts on the snowfall totals. Sounds like a cheap way to get out of being committed but its really not. This is a tough area of the country to try and nail a storms impacts down due to a lot of things like New Mexico being a really big state, its varied elevations, and storm tracks. 

Anyway with each new model run (they come out every six to twelve hours) the forecast snowfall totals change...which is normal. So don't get too worked up just yet over these totals depicted on the graphics and maps above. I guarantee that they will change several times between now and the weekend. The general idea is that a large part of the state may be impacted by heavy to very heavy snowfall Saturday into Monday. Significant if not impossible driving conditions may occur in many areas of the state during this time. Road closures could occur in many locations. 

How Do We Prepare For This?

I am getting some questions concerning this potential Major Winter Storm. People are wanting to know how to prepare for it if its as bad as the models are depicting. I just posted this on one friends timeline. Please feel free to share this.
I would make sure I have plenty of food and bottled water for starters. Do you have a fireplace or wood burning stove? If so make sure you have plenty of seasoned firewood in case we lose power. Have extra blankets and or sleeping bags in case the power goes out.
Fill your gas tanks up and keep them full. Have flashlights and extra batteries.
Have a backup plan for your family, friends, and neighbors...somewhere else you can go that's close by if you need to do so. Have a communication plan and a backup plan for that to keep in touch with your loved ones.
If you have livestock then be prepared to have extra feed and shelter for them if possible. A backup plan for frozen water sources may be necessary also.
Travel may be impossible in many areas if the models are correct with their snowfall forecasts. I want to stress that this is the big unknown at this time. Nothing is for certain just yet so don't panic.

I would recommend that anyone living in the general area start planning for this event now. Here are some links that will provide you with good information as to how and what to do to accomplish this.


A series of heavy snow events produced totals of 15 to 30 inches across eastern and central New Mexico just before Christmas. Periods of light snow actually began about the 20th and then intensified during the 22nd through the 25th as tropical moisture began to feed a large, nearly stationary upper level low over southwest New Mexico. Heaviest snow was centered over Chaves, Lincoln, De Baca, Guadalupe, San Miguel, Quay and Torrance Counties. 
Roswell and Chaves County were especially hard hit where heavy wet snow pulled down power lines, trees, numerous small sheds, plus porch and driveway coverings. Numerous roads and highways across eastern New Mexico including sections of Interstate 40 between Albuquerque and Santa Rosa were closed, stranding hundreds of Christmas travellers. 
Vaughn, population 300, swelled to nearly 3000 people at one point with travellers forced into nearly all available shelter and private homes. Road clearing was overwhelmed by the widespread, deep snow and the steady winds that followed between the 26th and the 31st producing drifts as high as 6 to 10 feet. Some ranching areas north of Roswell to Fort Sumner and west into Torrance and Lincoln counties saw road closures that lasted 10 to 14 days into January. 
Ranchers were unable to feed and water stranded herds throughout the period and eventually relief efforts included air drops of nearly 400 tons of hay. Livestock losses were finally confirmed at near 10000 sheep and cattle, including 3000 yearling dairy animals which piled up against each other and suffocated during the height of the storm on the 23rd and 24th at a stock yard near Dexter in Chaves County. 
Direct losses were estimated at about $6.5 million, but indirect costs for clearing and repairing roads and highways reached as high as $20 million. Winds gusting 60-70 mph were also reported across eastern Albuquerque on the 19th and the 22nd as the upper level storm brought strong east winds over the top of the nearby Sandia and Manzano Mountains. One 69 year old man died from exposure in eastern Bernalillo County after he left his vehicle which had become stuck in a snowdrift.

How many of you remember the five day Christmas Blizzards of 1997?
An incredible 15" - 31" of snow fell across parts of central, eastern and southeastern New Mexico from the 20th through the 25th. Snow drifts in the area reached 6' - 10', with reports of snow drifts burying telephone poles in some areas.

Road crews were overwhelmed by the heavy snowfall and deep drifts. Road closures lasted 10 -14 days into January. Total monetary losses were estimated at $6.5 million, with the cost of clearing roads across the area at $20 million. Some 10,000 head of sheep and cattle were lost. This included 3,000 yearly calves at a dairy in Dexter that bunched up together to try and stay warm, and suffocated. The New Mexico National Guard was activated to perform aerial drops of 400 tons of hay to cattle, sheep, deer, and antelope to keep them from starving to death in the deep snow and drifts.

Motorists were stranded in their vehicles near Queen along State Highway 137 and had to be rescued by Eddy County Sheriffs Deputies. Governor Gary Johnson declared a state of emergency across Eddy County and surrounding areas. Hope which is located 20 miles west of Artesia picked up 29" of snow from the three storms when it was all said and done.

Some of the colder low temperatures during the period include -9 at the Bitter Lakes Wildlife Refuge, -8 at Lakewood, -5 at Artesia, and 2 at Roswell.

Storm Total Snowfall Amounts-

5 Miles South Fort Sumner 31"
Cloudcroft 30.5"
Hope 29"
Corona 28"
Yeso 28"
Capitan 23"
Elk 23"
Ruidoso 22.5"
Portales 21.8"
Roswell 21" (Public reported 26")
Bitter Lakes Wildlife Refuge 19"
Mountain Park 19"
Picacho 17.8"
Fort Sumner 17.5"
Brantley Dam 17.5"
Santa Rosa 16.8"
Lakewood 16.4"
Elida 14"
Artesia 14"
Maljamar 12"
Clovis 11.5"
Crossroads 9"
Carlsbad Airport 7"
Tatum 5"
Hobbs 4"
13 West of Hobbs 2.9"
Ochoa 2.5"
Carlsbad Caverns Trace
WIPP Site 1.60" of Rain 

The Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction!


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