Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Radium Springs heavy rain event on August 21, 2016

Intense rainfall upwards of 4 inches fell on Radium Springs, New Mexico from a late Sunday evening storm on August 21. Two CoCoRaHS observers in Radium Springs recorded impressive amounts of rain from this storm. The observer at Leasburg Dam State Park measured 4.04 inches by the morning of August 22. Another observer northwest of the park measured 3.83 inches. Observers to the south measured respectable amounts but not nearly as much as that in Radium Springs.

The Santa Teresa radar indeed verified a rainfall hotspot in this area. Below is a screenshot of the 24-hour radar based precipitation by the morning of August 22. The marker in the map below is an approximate location of the park where the 4.04 inch was measured.
The evening sounding (6 pm) at Santa Teresa showed the deep moisture over the area and a precipitable water amount of 1.18 inches. The morning sounding had a precipitable water of 1.33 inches. Vertical structure of the convective clouds over the area were impressive this late in the evening. Radar estimated cloud tops were in the ballpark of 34,000 feet based on the plot below.
An animation of the radar reflectivity shows the storm's trajectory from the west.

Cold cloud tops from this GOES infrared map also indicated the strength of this storm.
The radar also picked up hail signature at the height of the storm. The dual polarization radar product (HHC) shows hail in this plot as red. When I visited the park I verified hail with the campground host. The size of the hail was about pea size or 1/4 inch.
A snap shot of the radar base reflectivity was high at the peak of this storm and extended across the area.
A flood advisory was issued by the El Paso National Weather Service office in the area about the time of this event.

I visited the State Park on Monday afternoon and wanted to view the impacts of this amount of rain on the area. By the time I started my trek it was about 12 hours after the storm. I first drove along Valley Drive (highway 185) from Las Cruces toward Radium Springs. Stopping along the way to view the Rio Grande as it crossed Picacho Avenue (highway 70) I noticed the high level compared to what I am used to. This is the Rio Grande looking north at the Picacho bridge.
The next stop was a viewpoint of the river just north of Dona Ana as the road was close to the water. The river level was about the same as the Picacho crossing.
A few miles north of Radium Springs from the road provided a nice vista overlooking a very full river. However I didn't see any flooding but it was right up to the bank.
I did notice a location where there had been water flow over highway 185 north of Radium Springs. No water remained when I was there but the debris left over from last night was still present and it was obvious that water had flowed over the road at this location.
At that same location I did see a little erosion of the banks upstream from this storm.
There were some ponding on the side of the road driving into Radium Springs on the west side of the village near the post office. In this part of town there was not a lot of ponding remaing 12 hours after the rain but it was evident it rained.
Runoff and debris on the roads within the Radium Springs community was much more severe. At a few locations up to a foot of soil was deposited on the road and by the time I arrived a county road grader was already on the job clearing the roads. The photo below was on DeBeers Road.
and looking in the other direction
Flowing water on the access road to the Masson Farms had eroded part of the area under the railroad.
Some erosion undercut a retaining wall and fire hydrant at the corner of Hurt and Desert Edge Roads.
The most ponding that I saw was along the railroad on Tres Amigos Road and it appeared impassable with a normal vehicle due to the depth of water.
A few parcels had standing water remaining after the storm.
In the park I didn't see any major damage or flooding although Leasburg Dam was very full and one log remained on the top of the dam. I was told that there was another log on the dam but that was pushed downstream by the time I was there.
From the hard work of our CoCoRaHS observers we were able to know about this rainfall and document the impacts from an exceptional event. Below is our CoCoRaHS observer at the park, Park Manager Evaristo Giron who measured the 4.04 inch storm.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Are we back from the dead?  No, our office is very much alive and kicking.  It was just our blog that has had a near death experience.  It's time we bring it back to life.  So what have we been up to this past year?  Read on to find out!


In May of 2014, a deadly crash related to a dust storm killed 7 people on I-10 by the Lordsburg Playa.  Because of that, we have been making regular trips out to the Lordsburg, NM Playa area to study the dust storm issue.


As a result of our trips, we have compiled a video of several dramatic dust storms our cameras have captured over the past year.  Below you can see some of that footage.


NMSU students Kacie DeSomer and Trevor Nash downloading images from the playa cameras.  May 2016.

Weather Stations

Over the past year, we've worked tirelessly to bring some of our older Agricultural (Ag.) weather stations back up to working order, upgrading most of the components and sensors.  During this upgrade process, we have also changed the communications method from old school dial-up over the phone, to a more advanced radio/network telemetry system.  There is still a lot of work to do on our Ag. network, but progress continues.

We have also been working to maintain our USRCRN stations that we inherited from our Federal partners, making trips to the sites to empty the Geonor rain gauges and fix any problems that may arise.

NMSU staff member Stanley Engle dowloading data from a USRCRN weather station on top of Magdalena Ridge, near Socorro, NM.

Finally, we have been installing Davis Vantage Pro 2 weather station in our community as part of an outreach program, or in partnership with the NM Viticulture Program.

NMSU staff member Stanley Engle installs a Davis Vantage Pro 2 weather station while UTEP intern Maryflor Garcia watches.


If you are a regular visitor to our website, you'll have noticed a major change in layout.  We now use the updated NMSU theme, which also makes our website more mobile friendly. The "behind the scenes" code has also gone through several revisions so that we can lay the groundwork for more interesting data products in the near future.  If you haven't yet visited us, please do so at http://weather.nmsu.edu.

Social Media

Obviously this blog is part of our social media outreach.  Unfortunately we let it slide into oblivion as we concentrated more on our various Twitter accounts.  No more.  Every effort will be made to provide more information not only on our Twitter accounts, but also right here in the bloggerverse (Is that a thing?).

Speaking of Twitter, because of our UTEP summer intern, Maryflor, we now have a New Mexico CoCoRaHS Twitter feed and a snazy new logo to go along with it.  Check it out when you get the chance.  Our tireless NM State Climatologist, Dr. Dave DuBois, also keeps up with Twitter and provides a Twitter feed that shouldn't be missed.  The field technician and software developer for our office, Stanley Engle, also maintains his own feed, tweeting his take on weather and climate related information.  Finally, we partner closely with the NM Viticulture program as we participate in weather station activities together.  Please follow their account for all things wine in New Mexico.

That's all for now.  Stay tuned for more information about our activities in the coming weeks.

Enjoy the Show!

Our 2016 summer crew!  From left to right: Viticulture Weather Specialist Elizabeth Smith, PhD candidate in computer science Antonio Arredondo, UTEP summer intern Maryflor Garcia, field tech and software developer Stanley Engle, NMSU grad student Zahra Ghodsizadeh, NMSU undergrad Trevor Nash.

Part of our 2015 summer crew! From left to right: NMSU grad student Yizhi Zhao, NMSU summer intern Kacie DeSomer, UTEP summer intern Ana Quevedo, Viticulture Weather Specialist Elizabeth Smith.

NMSU PhD candidate Antonio Arredondo helping out with an outreach event last summer.

NMSU staff member Stanley Engle recruiting students attending AMS to come to NMSU for grad school.

Our former Program Specialist and NMSU alumni Reyes Duran doing her part to measure precipitation in New Mexico.

NMSU student Kacie DeSomer, NMSU professor Dr. DeAntonio, and NMSU staff member Stanley Engle downloading weather data from the Lordsburg Playa.

Our fearless leader, NMSU professor and NM State Climatologist Dr. Dave DuBois saying "See you next time!"