Thursday, December 27, 2012

Today's MODIS image from the Terra satellite showed some interesting features. The image below is from NASA's Land and Atmosphere Near real-time Capability for EOS (LANCE) Rapid Response website and overlayed in Google Earth. The image is center over Las Cruces and if you look close at the clouds you can see a wave-like pattern on the east side of the Franklin and Organ Mountains. These area called gravity waves and are formed when the wind flow above us is perturbed by either mountains or another air mass that has a different density. In our case I think it may be mainly from the effects of wind being perturbed by the terrain behind the cold front.
There were other areas with gravity waves in NM, namely east of the Sandias and the Guadalupe Mountains. The Sandia waves were spread apart more and I like to call them lee waves, since they form on the lee-side of mountains. In today's case the winds are blowing from the west toward the east. Sometime the atmosphere is dry and hard to see these gravity waves. In order to see them without thick clouds I use the infrared spectrum that is sensitive to water vapor. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thanks to Stan we now have the NM Climate Center weather station at Fabian Garcia Horticulture connected through an RF link back to main campus.  Previously the phone line was cut and removed that connected the station to a phone jack at a greenhouse at the farm. We've been toying with various ideas since the phone line was cut last year. Stan manually downloaded the data from the station while we waited for a little funding to show up. The station now connects with our database once an hour.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Last week we had the pleasure of hosting a meet and greet at NMSU with Henry Reges, the national coordinator for CoCoRaHS.  Mr. Reges gave a short talk about how CoCoRaHS started and why it's important.  He showed us the CoCoRaHS recruiting video and afterwards mentioned how happy he is with the number of active observers in Las Cruces.  Further, he shared the exciting news that CoCoRaHS is working to expand into Mexico.

To emphasize the importance of collecting data, he stated that CoCoRaHS data doesn't sit on a "shelf" somewhere.  Instead, federal/state agencies, researchers, and companies use the data.  Finally, he stressed that, while CoCoRaHS should be a fun activity to participate in, it also provides a valuable service to our communities.

Dr. Dave DuBois, the New Mexico State Climatologist, then gave a presentation about the largest precipitation event in Las Cruces, occurring in 1935.  On August 29th and 30th, rainfall measured at the New Mexico State Agricultural College began at 11:05PM and by 2:00AM had reached 5.85".  Flood water began flowing into the city shortly after 1:00AM and the city was inundated in an hour.  Water depth reached 4 feet over most of the residential area and 100 houses were destroyed.  At the end of the event, the gauge recorded 6.49" of precipitation.  He then fast forwarded to a 2010 event, where the NMSU Coop station recorded 3.34" of precipitation.  The 2010 event was the third largest recorded precipitation event in Las Cruces.

We'd like to thank everyone for coming to the event and participating in our conversation about CoCoRaHS and climate in general.  For more information on CoCoRaHS or to join, visit

Friday, August 10, 2012

Congratulations to Mr. John Jekielek of McGaffey for getting the Benjamin Franklin Length of Service award for more than 55 years of taking observations as a NWS Cooperative observer!  The link to this award was posted on the Albuquerque NWS webpage recently.  Jekielek has operated the MCGAFFEY 5 SE station since May of 1956. Below is a scan of the May 1956 report at the McGaffey 5 SE station.
Franklin was the first U.S. Postmaster General and instructed other postmasters to record the weather.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

July climate highlights

For the state of New Mexico the month of July was the 40th driest on record. We averaged 1.98 inches as a state in July compared to the 20th century average of 2.43". A few areas were fortunate to receive well above normal precipitation such as in the San Juan Mountains and around the Valles Caldera. The northeastern portion of the state did not see much rain as the map below shows. This map is from the NOAA AHPS website. Most of the southwestern part of the state recorded below average rain last month.
The first 7 months of 2012 were the 8th driest on record.  I saw this morning that the CPC daily climate headline says that the "onset of El Nino is likely to be seen during Aug-Sep-Oct." similar to previous forecasts.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

CoCoRaHS Volunteers: Meet national coordinator Henry Reges in Las Cruces

We are pleased to announce a meet and greet with CoCoRaHS national coordinator Henry Reges next Thursday, August 16th. The event will be held on the main campus of New Mexico State University in Las Cruces in room W100 of Gerald Thomas Hall. It begins at 7 pm.

New Mexico CoCoRaHS volunteers are invited to attend.You'll get to meet or reintroduce yourself to Mr. Reges, New Mexico state coordinator Dave DuBois, and other volunteers from the area. A short talk and refreshments will be provided.

CoCoRaHS volunteers who are interested in attending can click on the following link for more information: Meet and Greet Flyer.

We hope to see our CoCoRaHS volunteers there!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Climate Maps Now Available

The NM Climate Center has recently made available a collection New Mexico climate maps.  Using a straightforward interface, users can view maps of precipitation and temperature in the state from 30 days to 36 months into the past.  To use this product, go to the climate center's home page and click the NM Climate Maps link on the left.  On that page, you'll see a precipitation map for the past 30 days in New Mexico.  From there, choose what you're interested in above the current map (Precipitation, Max/Min/Mean Temperatures), then choose a map option to the left of the current map, and then finally choose how far into the past you want to look via the links to the right of the current map.

These maps are generated by our partners at the Western Regional Climate Center using data from NWS cooperator stations.  Using the cooperator stations is ideal for this product because the period of record is so long for most of the stations in the network.  It is our hope that this product will help you visualize our current climatic conditions in New Mexico.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Monsoonal moisture remains to the west of NM - Yesterday's precipitation was mainly west of the Rio Grande with some decent reports in the higher elevations of Grant County and in the Las Cruces area.
 Our highest amounts from the CoCoRaHS network were in Las Cruces ranging from 0.01 to 0.89 inches.

Friday, July 27, 2012

New CoCoRaHS volunteers needed

CoCoRaHS--the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network-- is one of the programs the NM Climate Center participates in. It provides an opportunity for ordinary New Mexicans who have an interest in weather to become volunteer weather observers and record precipitation data for their part of the state. There are currently more than 300 volunteer stations reporting around the state. New volunteers are encouraged to join.

CoCoRaHS is a non-profit and community-based network of weather observers who record daily participation at their individual stations. It originated out of the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University in 1998 and has since grown to a nationwide network of observers.
Precipitation in New Mexico on July 27, 2012 as recorded by CoCoRaHS observers.

New Mexico state climatologist Dave DuBois is the state coordinator. There are several regional and county coordinators around the state. More than 500 stations in New Mexico have made reports in the past two years. More than 300 made reports in the month of June 2012. Some of the volunteers have been observing for seven years now. The weather data provided by CoCoRaHS volunteers is used by the National Weather Service, other meteorologists and hydrologists, emergency managers, city utilities, the USDA, engineers, mosquito control, farmers and ranchers, outdoor enthusiasts and teachers and students.

Becoming an observer is easy. You sign up at the CoCoRaHS website and buy an inexpensive rain gauge from Weather Your Way or ambient weather. You can get simple training in how to measure rain, snow, and hail correctly from the CoCoRaHS website or from a local coordinator. An account is created for you when you sign up website, and you sign in every morning to record what you observed. It's important to enter the data as often as you can, even if the only thing your rain gauge is measuring is bugs and dust.  But don't worry if you have to go out of town or miss a few days for some reason--you can create multiple day reports.

My family has a rain gauge in our backyard, and we make observations for CoCoRaHS. We find that being part of the network is interesting, especially now that we're in the middle of the monsoon season. Checking the gauge and entering the data has become part of our daily routine. It only takes a few minutes. I find it interesting and sometimes frustrating to check the amounts of rain other areas of the city and county are getting--it seems like this week our neighbors all around us have been getting rain while we've been getting nothing. We also enjoy reading the daily comments entered onto the website by observers from around the state. I feel like I'm learning more about the weather and more about New Mexico.

For more information on CoCoRaHS, see the "About us" section of their website. Click here for an application to join the network and start observing.

New Mexico CoCoRaHS has its own newsletter. See the Summer 2012 edition here. It provides you with information about out state coordinator, New Mexico state climatologist Dave DuBois, as well as information on the monsoon season and the latest updates on drought monitoring in New Mexico. It also contains intereting precipitation data gathered by CoCoRaHS volunteers from around the state, including a map of the precipitation measures so far this year.

A big thank you to those of you who are already observers for CoCoRaHS. If you're not an observer yet, we encourage you to join. It's easy, fun, and interesting, and you get to make your own small contribution to weather science.

Monday, July 23, 2012

So far the NMSU Coop station has recorded 0.82 inches in July and hasn't seen any measurable rain since last Thursday. Over the last 24-hours we have seen patchy light rain over the state.
The NWS Albuquerque office released their Drought Statement today. The statement started off with
For the calendar year up to the end of last month most areas were below normal except for a few location in northeast NM. The map below from their office compares this year with the same time last year. Compared to last year (Jan to June) we're doing better but still behind.
Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Landsat satellite program. Below is a Landsat 7 image from 7/13 of the Paso del Norte retrieved from the Global Visualization Viewer website.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I sat in on NOAA's monthly climate webinar today where they briefed us on the state of the climate across the globe and over the US. Some highlights included them reporting that June 2012 was the 4th warmest June globally. On land it was the 1st warmest and 10th warmest over the ocean. The map below shows where it was abnormally warm this month. Most of North America shows a red dot with the largest anomalies over the western US. Hardest hit across the globe was over in Siberia.
Another interesting slide showed Arctic sea ice extent in June. They reported that last month had the 2nd smallest Arctic sea ice extent and had a record ice loss with 2.86 million square km melting.