A Storm For The History Books?

Valid At 6 PM MDT Wednesday, March 13, 2019.

Forecast models continue to indicate that rapid and deep surface cyclogenesis will occur Tuesday night into Wednesday afternoon. This mornings European (ECMWF) model bombed the surface low over western Kansas down to 970 millibars or 28.64 inches of mercury by 6 PM MDT Wednesday. The GFS drops the surface low pressure down to 972 millibars or 28.70 inches of mercury. That's simply incredible and may be a new all-time surface low pressure record for that area for March. To put these pressure values in prescriptive these readings are typically what we see in Category 1 or 2 Hurricanes.

This is significant for Southeastern New Mexico and West Texas because the lower the pressure in a storm...the stronger it is. And this one will be in record low territory. One reason our surface winds will be screaming out of the southwest and west on Wednesday. The air mass over us will be rushing northeastward in the cyclonic flow at the surface to try and fill the lower pressures created by the intense surface low over southwestern Kansas. 

Valid At Noon MDT This Monday, March 11, 2019.

Forecast models continue to indicate rapid deepening of the upper level low located southwest of San Diego, California at noontime today. Its central pressure had dropped down to 948 decameters this afternoon and will continue to deepen tonight. What happens aloft is reflected at the surface and when the upper level storm rounds the bend and gets over eastern New Mexico on Wednesday the bottom starts to fall out of our barometers. 

GFS 500 Millibar/18,000' MSL Forecast.

Valid At Noon MDT Wednesday, March 13, 2019.

By noontime this monster of an upper level storm should be located over southwestern Kansas. It will race northeastward out of northern Mexico south of El Paso by around midnight Tuesday night and be in Kansas about 12 hours later. Talk about a hard exit from stage right!

(Click On The Link Above For The Latest Updated Information).

Valid As Of 5 PM MDT Monday, March 11, 2019.

 Blizzard Warnings are already in effect (as of 5 PM MDT Monday) for parts of northeastern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming, and western Nebraska. A foot of snow or more is forecast for these areas driven along by 70 mph wind gusts. Whiteout and life threatening 
conditions will be widespread in the affected areas. Travel or be caught outdoors and you will be risking your life!

Tonight into Tuesday rain showers and thunderstorms will increase in intensity and coverage over all of the local area. Our chances for measurable rainfall ramp up from 40% this afternoon to 70% to 100% Tuesday into Wednesday morning. The rains may not last until Wednesday morning locally.

Tonight Into Tuesday Morning.

Widely scattered elevated (elevated above the cooler surface air mass rooted at about 5,000' Mean Sea Level tonight) thunderstorms will occur off and on tonight into Tuesday morning. Some of these may produce small hail, locally heavy downpours, frequent deadly cloud to ground lightning, and strong thunderstorm wind gusts. A few could even possibly produce hail as larger as quarters and 60+ mph thunderstorm wind gusts. Areas of fog some of which may be dense (with visibilities less than one mile) are forecast to form tonight into tomorrow morning. 

Tuesday's Outlook.

Valid At Noon MDT Tuesday, March 12, 2019.

Valid At 6 PM MDT Tuesday, March 12, 2019.

Valid At 6 AM MDT Wednesday, March 13, 2019.

Notice that at noontime Tuesday the Pacific cold front is forecast to be located along the Arizona/New Mexico state line. By 6 PM its entering southeastern New Mexico. And by sunrise Wednesday mornings it has smoked its way eastward to the DFW area. Talk about a rapidly eastward moving cold front...now this will be a classic to watch.

How Bad Will It Get?

Tuesday's forecast is both difficult and challenging. Should we stay socked in for much of the day with overcast skies and periods of rain then the atmosphere will not destabilize nearly as much as if it would should the skies clear and allow the sun to warm it up and destabilize it further. 

Rich low level southeasterly upslope flow will continue to work its way northwestward into the area tonight into Tuesday night behind the dryline and ahead of the Pacific cold front that will be orientated north to south over Arizona tomorrow. It will work its way eastward towards the area tomorrow afternoon and evening. By midnight it should have cleared the local area and be located in West Texas. Surface dew point temperatures are forecast to approach 60ºF...not bad at all for early March in New Mexico.

Any discrete supercell thunderstorm that manages to fire up ahead of the approaching cold front tomorrow into tomorrow night will have the potential to be rather nasty. Current thinking is that main severe weather threats will be large hail (larger than quarters), damaging thunderstorm wind gusts in excess of 60 mph, frequent deadly cloud to ground lightning, and locally heavy rainfall that could cause a few localized flash flood issues.

As the Pacific cold front races to the east and catches up to the dryline over eastern and southeastern New Mexico tomorrow night a squall line is forecast to develop along and ahead of the approaching frontal boundary. This potentially severe line of thunderstorms will produce damaging thunderstorm winds gusts in excess of 60 mph along with isolated large hail events. An few isolated tornadoes may also occur with any discrete supercell thunderstorm and along bowing sections of the squall line.  

Stay alert and be ready for periods of severe weather tonight into tomorrow night. Have a plan and be prepared to act should severe thunderstorms impact your location. Increase you situational awareness (Pat Vesper I'll never forget that lesson during that spotter talk). 

How Much Rain & Snow?

Valid Tonight Into Noontime MDT Thursday, March 14, 2019.

Unfortunately the forecast models are backing down somewhat in their total rainfall expectations...not much but enough to concern me. March is typically one of the driest times of the year for us so this does not surprise me. It does concern me though because if the storm comes in drier than forecast then our chances for a widespread major dust storm on Wednesday will increase.

Valid Tonight Into Noontime MDT Thursday, March 14, 2019.

Heavy wind driven snows will fall across the Sacramento mountains tonight into Thursday morning. Snow levels will gradually fall from around 10,000' tonight to 6,000' by Tuesday afternoon. Cloudcroft could see up to 8" of new snowfall where a Winter Weather Advisory is in effect. Ski Apache may see more than a foot of new snow out of this storm. Near blizzard conditions may occur in some areas of the Sac's tomorrow night into Wednesday night as westerly winds gust up to 60 to 70 mph. Blowing and drifting snow may cause some travel problems. Some trees, power lines, utility lines and poles may be blown down. 

Dangerous & Destructive High Wind Event Wednesday.

As the Albuquerque National Weather Service Office forecaster on duty this afternoon stated in their Area Forecast Discussion (AFD) Wednesday's high wind event may be one for the record books. A widespread major high wind event and potential major dust storm are on track to hammer much of the state and nearby areas late Tuesday night into Wednesday. 

Current National Weather Service forecasts for the Roswell, Artesia, Carlsbad, and Hobbs areas call for southwesterly winds to become sustained at speeds around 45 to 60 mph with gusts around 65 to 80 mph on Wednesday!

Current forecasts are calling for southwesterly to westerly winds to become sustained at 75 mph with gusts to near 100 mph in the Guadalupe Pass area!

We experienced these type of high winds back in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. Historically I noticed that about every ten years or so give or take a few years we have the displeasure of enduring these events. 

When you have wind gusts to 70 to 80 mph your going to have damages. And that's certainly looks possible on late Tuesday night into Wednesday evening. Some roof damage may occur along with shingle damage. Outdoor sheds, barns, outbuildings, and other structures may also suffer damages. Some trees and tree branches may be blown down. Power lines and utility lines along with power poles may also be snapped in two or blown down. Some westward facing buildings may have windows broken or blown out.

My concern is that if we don't not get a widespread soaking rain (at least an inch or more) from this storm then the dust storm it generates Wednesday will be incredible. Widespread blowing dust and blowing sand will drastically the visibility to less than one mile and at times down to zero with little to no advanced warning. A widespread dust storm could affect the area for twelve hours or more if conditions are favorable. 

Blinding clouds of dust may suddenly without warning drop the visibility down to zero and severely affect travel along local roadways and highways. Areas prone to dust storms under less severe conditions will be the worst and these include freshly plowed or exposed farmlands, fields, lots, and construction sites. 

Southeastern New Mexico and West Texas has a history of multi-vehicle accidents during these dust storms. We have experienced fatalities and numerous injuries over the years due to these. Again my fear is that if we don't get the rain we need to hold the soil down and the winds are as strong as forecast for as long as forecast then I can't put into words how bad its going to get locally. If you think our recent gusts to 55 and 65 mph have been bad wait to you see 80 or higher. 

Stay and weather-aware over the next couple of days everyone! Please feel free to share my weather web page and this blog post with your family, friends, co-workers, and loved ones. It auto updates with the latest and most current weather conditions, National Weather Service forecasts, watches, warnings, special weather statements, and much more.

Visit it by clicking on this link.

The Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction - And Sometimes It Hurts!


  1. Great coverage of this last storm...whew! I wish I had read it before, as I was totally in the dark. After all in Las Cruces, it's the same almost daily for weeks, windy & warm, windy & cool and tries to rain, then perfect for 3-4 days. Wednesday's constant cold wind was like nothing I recall, and I lived in Oklahoma and Denver! We had a little rain Tues afternoon, so that helped.

    The worst sand storm I've been in? Approaching Carlsbad from the ntl park, late March, 10-15 years ago...wow!


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