A fast-moving upper level trough and associated potent jet stream crossed New Mexico on February 28, resulting in a widespread high wind event. The graphic below shows mid-day wind speeds at 700mb, or about mountaintop level.
Some of the strongest wind observations actually occurred during the morning hours, but as shown in the surface observations plot at 20Z, this event was widespread and by afternoon many locations across central and eastern New Mexico reported gusts greater than 40 kts (colored red), with some locations also reporting visibility restrictions in “haze” or blowing dust (yellow). At this time, KSRR reported 3/4 mile visibility while KALM reported 1/2 mile visibility.
A year-round source of dust in New Mexico is White Sands National Monument. This light-colored gypsum sand generally shows up well on satellite imagery. On the afternoon of 28 February 2012, the wind-driven plume reached west Texas, as shown in the images below – MODIS color composite and RGB cloud-snow imagery. Other locations to the south and west of White Sands are also reporting blowing dust or haze with visibility restrictions (KLRU, KELP and KHOB). These other areas of blowing dust are evident (though less obvious) on the MODIS color composite, but less so on the RGB cloud snow product. Would the RGB Dust product have depicted all areas of blowing dust?