Tuesday, May 8, 2012

5/8 - 12:10pm CDT - Targeting New Mexico Today

We're on the road west today from Fort Stockton, Texas as we move toward Southern New Mexico. This is one of two areas we considered chasing in this morning, with the other being in Southern Texas. The reason we are not in Southern Texas is because there are thunderstorms going on already down there and the cool air and cloud cover from those will act to contaminate the environment for storm development this afternoon. Even though the very same cold front we saw yesterday and the day before will act as a focus for storms down there today, this contamination should rule out most of the chance for nice, isolated supercells.

Even though 500 mb (18,000 foot) winds will be stronger in Texas because a shortwave disturbance on the edge of an upper-level low is moving through the region, they should be ample in New Mexico. The southwesterly flow at that level and the fact that winds will be spreading apart (diverging) should lead to rising air in this region near the surface. These winds coupled with easterly surface winds will create wind shear, which is needed to sustain and cause a storm to rotate.

The Storm Prediction Center has issued two Slight Risk areas for today in Texas and New Mexico. There is a 2% tornado risk in Southern Texas, but this may not play out well down there thanks to the ongoing storms and clouds this morning. There's no tornado risk area in New Mexico, but my hunch is that there might be the potential for one or two little ones there today based on the directional shear that will be present with even a little bit of speed shear. Moisture will be a bit limited today, but you don't need as much in the upslope areas of New Mexico because elevation compensates for a lack of moisture. We're keeping an eye on conditions as they develop and hopefully I'll have more great pictures to share later today!

My constant updates on Twitter and Facebook will continue today during our chase.

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