Rio Grande Response to MODIS Snowmelt

Two widespread significant weather events occurred over New Mexico during the first week of October.  The first event on October 4th and 5th brought widespread rain across northern and central New Mexico while the second event on October 7th and 8th brought more rain as well as high terrain snow.  High peaks of the northern mountains received 8 to 12 inches of fresh snow while the upper Rio Grande Valley picked up 2 to 4 inches.  Many stream gauges within the Rio Grande Basin reported rises from these two events.  The 1km MODIS false color image below on the 8th shows areas in red that received snowfall from the event on the 7th.  The second MODIS image shows green areas that had previously been red.  As skies cleared and temperatures warmed the following two days, gauges at points A, B, and C showed a third rise from snowmelt on the 9th and 10th.  These rises were insignificant however responses were detected. Red lines delineate events 1 and 2.  NWS ABQ will pursue this topic further during the winter/spring of 2011-2012.

Point A (Cerro), Point B (Taos Junction Bridge), Point C (Embudo)

Point A (Cerro), Point B (Taos Junction Bridge), Point C (Embudo)

2 thoughts on “Rio Grande Response to MODIS Snowmelt

  1. Similar application of the MODIS Snow-Cloud RGB has been done at the Great Falls, MT WFO. In some cases the rise of water has been significant. It has been a learning process, but the Service Hydrologist has been able to use the change in snow cover seen in the imagery and combine this with knowledge of what the approximate snow depth in order to anticipate the downstream flood threat. At times, they have seen a greater lead time of these flooding events. Obviously, the multiple images of nearly clear view are needed. While the gauge values did not change that much in absolute magnitude, it was interesting to see their trends here.

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