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May 15-16, 2009: Strong Back Door Cold Front Brings Wind & Moisture

   
A powerful late Spring cold front barreled into northeast New Mexico by afternoon on the 15th, sending temperatures plummeting from the 80s to the 60s by evening. The cold front accelerated south and west during the night, blasting through the canyons and passes of the central mountain chain into the Rio Grande Valley. The graph below shows the sustained winds and wind gusts (in mph) at the Albuquerque Sunport at two hour intervals between 1000 pm and noon on the 16th.
   
The strong winds were accompanied by an increase in low level moisture. The images below are surface dewpoints at 400 pm on the 15th (top image) and 800 am on the 16th (bottom image). Note the increase in dewpoints, especially over the west. The increase in moisture led to isolated showers and thunderstorms over all of New Mexico on the afternoon and evening of the 16th.
 
 

 
The low level moisture also created a nearly solid layer of low clouds across eastern New Mexico, with some of the low clouds seeping into the Rio Grande Valley.
 

 

May 21-24, 2009: Widespread Rain Event

   
A slow moving storm system over the desert southwest pulled plenty of moisture north into New Mexico, starting on the 21st. Widespread showers and local thunderstorms developed on the 21st mainly over the south, then advanced north on the 22nd and 23rd. Below is a water vapor satellite image, showing the stream of mid and high level moisture into New Mexico on the 22nd.
 
 
The surface moisture was also quite impressive. The image below shows the surface dewpoints on the 22nd; a measure of the amount of moisture near the ground.
 

As a result of the deep layer of moisture parked over the state, widespread precipitation was found across Mew Mexico over a four day period. The radar loop below reveals the extensive precipitation late each afternoon from the 21st through 24th.
 
 

The four day precipitation amounts were quite impressive over much of the state, especially by late May standards. The table below lists some of the higher four day rainfall totals. In addition, where available, normal precipitation for the entire month of May is listed.
 
Total Rainfall May 21-24, 2009 (inches)
Location
Amount
Normal for May
Cloudcroft area
1.13 - 2.03
0.96
Faywood
1.63
0.38
Las Cruces area
0.48 - 1.44
NA
Deming Airport
1.49
NA
Truth or Consequences
1.02
NA
Glenwood
0.95
NA
Chama
0.94
1.45
Clines Corners
0.88
NA
Carlsbad
0.79
NA
Torreon
0.64
NA
Gallup
0.58
0.62
GRants
0.57
0.63
Farmington
0.52
NA
Santa Fe Airport
0.48
NA
Las Vegas
0.48
1.84
Albuquerque Foothills
0.43
NA
Albuquerque Sunport
0.24
0.60

 


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