New Mexico Wind and Snow

The first real blast of cold air of the 2011-2012 cold season over northern and central NM moved into the eastern plains on Saturday December 3rd. This cold air was reinforced by a significantly colder arctic front that pushed west through the Rio Grande Valley and into western NM through Monday December 5th.  Cold saturated low level air and upslope flow across the region behind the first front produced widespread freezing fog Sunday morning December 4th.   The animated gif below shows the development of freezing fog across the high plains and Rio Grande Valley on the GOES low cloud base and fog depth product.  A freezing fog advisory was issued late Saturday evening as numerous reports of visibilities to 1/4SM and hazardous interstate travel were reported.  Click image to enlarge and loop.

Meanwhile farther to the west a deep upper level low pressure system was approaching NM.  Moist cold upslope flow and upper level forcing created our first widespread major snow storm of the season.  Many areas picked up 6 to 12″ of snow with up to 15″ in the higher terrain and drifts up to 3 feet. Areas within the ABQ metro area also saw snow with up to 7″ reported on the west side.  Downslope flow in areas such as Raton and the ABQ east side below canyons produced our pesky snow shadow. Note the MODIS 1km false color imagery shows areas with widespread snow cover in red and snow shadowed areas in green.

2 thoughts on “New Mexico Wind and Snow

  1. Thanks for the post Brian! Just curious…do you know if the satellite imagery helped the forecasters with the timing/coverage of the warning, or are these types of events often expected to generate this type of widespread fog? Also, how about the depth product, did that help with determining when the fog might dissipate?

    • Kris. The satellite imagery was key for the coverage of the freezing fog advisory. When we do get these events along the east slopes they do tend to be widespread within that area. Timing is always an issue with development of fog out here. We were monitoring the product closely and after a couple hours it was clear the fog was going to remain in place and become hazardous to travel along I-40. The depth product while not shown followed closely with the lowest visibility obs. The forecasters expired the advisory on time and I dont know if they were examining the depth product for this. It is likely they saw no more obs supporting fog and expired it. Thanks!

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