Strong winds, blowing dust and Fire Danger today

Published: Jan. 10, 2018 at 8:06 AM CST
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An overall pleasant start to the day is expected. The much anticipated upper level storm that brought flooding and mudslides to California yesterday, is moving across Arizona this morning and will move into New Mexico shortly.

Later in the day, a strong belt of mid-level winds will eject eastward, across the entire area during the afternoon hours. Some of the stronger winds will mix down to the surface.

These winds will be quite strong. I expect widespread 25-35 mph westerly winds, with a few spots seeing 30-40 mph winds. Gusts will be able to reach 50+ mph east of the mountains. A Wind Advisory is in effect today for the Permian Basin, Upper Trans-Pecos and Stockton Plateau. The winds will begin to show up around noon.

In the mountains, where a High Wind Warning is in effect, even stronger winds are expected. Winds will increase later this morning to 50-60 mph with gusts 75-85 mph. A few isolated winds gusts above 90 mph aren’t out of the question in the Guadalupe Mountains. The winds are already picking up in the Sacramento Mountains and I’d expect stronger winds by 10 a.m. CST in the Guadalupe and Davis Mountains.

In addition to the obvious threat (strong and even destructive winds), blowing dust will limit visibility across the region and affect those who suffer from respiratory issues. Fire danger will also remain high, especially during the afternoon hours over the NW Permian Basin and SE New Mexico.

In the Sacramento Mountains, rain showers have already begun and I expect that rain to transition over to snow shortly, especially above 7000 feet. Look for 5-7” in Cloudcroft and 1-3” in Ruidoso. Higher totals are likely at Ski Apache. Travel will be difficult along HWY 380 and 82 in the Mountains due to snow and ice.

Further south in the Guadalupe and Davis Mountains, the dynamics aren’t quite as impressive, so I’m not looking for much in the way of precipitation outside of the SACS.

High temperatures will reach into the mid 70’s today, thanks to the strong west winds. The wind will travel downslope from the mountains onto the plains. As the air descends to the mountain slopes, it’s compressed and the molecules bump into each other, creating heat energy. This warms the air and it is transported eastward across the rest of the area. The record high today stands at 76. It will be close but I think we will come in just below that at 73 or 74 officially.

As the previously mentioned storm moves east over the Texas Panhandle tonight, strong north winds will wrap around the back side of the storm, sending colder air plunging southward into the region. Expect the cold front to arrive just before sunrise on Thursday morning. The coldest air will pass just to our east. Daytime temperatures will be in the 30’s and 40’s from North Texas to the Hill Country. Here in West Texas. Highs will struggle to get out of the 40’s but will probably hit 50 in the metro. It will certainly be much colder than today.

Models continue to show a little lift along and just behind the front. The NAM still hints at a few rain showers going up along the front and while I think these showers will be isolated at best, there seems to be enough to keep a 20% chance in the forecast for the morning hours, then dry in the afternoon.

Strong winds will likely continue along and behind the front. The winds will slowly decrease late in the day on Thursday but most of the day will be breezy to windy.

Clear skies and much calmer winds are expected Thursday night. This will allow temperatures to fall rapidly, into the 20’s by Friday morning. However, sunny skies and a little uptick in southwest winds will make for a warmer day on Friday. Highs will reach into 60’s. However, another front is just around the corner so don’t get too comfortable.

Look for a cold front on Saturday to come through dry. Winds will be a bit strong behind the front, so I’d expect at the very least a breezy start to your Saturday. Highs will be in the 40’s on Saturday and in the 50’s on Sunday and Monday. Overnight lows will fall into the 20’s and 30’s.

A deep trough of low pressure will move over New England early next week. This will send another cold front dropping southward. It appears that the bulk of the arctic air will stay to our east. Locations that you’d normally expect to be warm, like the Deep South, will see highs in the 30’s early next week and snow could fall as far south at northern Mississippi and Alabama. We will see colder temperatures, just not as cold as locations to our east, starting on Tuesday.