Sunday, June 29, 2008

Weather Discussion - 9:00 am Sunday June 29, 2008

There are many interesting things happening over the Southwest and so this discussion.

For the past week or so there have been daily thunderstorms over southeast, and sometimes central, Arizona. Moisture values and CAPE have generally remained marginal with IPW values of around 25 mm. Thursday afternoon (the 26th) IPW increased briefly above 30 mm and there was ample CAPE over lower elevations of southeast Arizona for severe storms and heavy rains to occur in the Tucson metro area. The street flooding here on the north side of town was quite impressive, even though at the house there was only 0.33" of rainfall. Temperatures in middle levels have remained quite cool through this period, with temps at 500 mb of -8 to -10 C, and thus there has been CAPE around even though moisture values were low.

On Thursday the high, subtropical values of IPW (>37.5 mm) had inched northward toward the end of the GoC and the borderlands. This morning the subtropical moisture has retreated southward and covers only about the southern third of the GoC.

This morning the Tucson sounding indicates that there will probably be CAPE present this afternoon at lower elevations in southeastern AZ. If we end up with 4 g/kg in the well-mixed boundary layer (BL) there will be slight CAPE, but it looks like the value could be 5 g/kg or even greater. Steering-level winds are easterly at about 20kt. There is a weak upper-level SW over New Mexico and the NAM forecasts part of this feature to move southwestward and interact with the northern end of a quite pronounced tropical wave. So the potential for storms appears enhanced today, especially given that 500 mb temperatures remain in the -8 to -10 C range across all of the southwest. There is also pronounced westward advection of higher moisture values across southern New Mexico. By afternoon there should be substantial moisture convergence over southeastern Arizona as the afternoon diurnal northwesterly winds butt into the easterly flow from New Mexico. Thus, there appears to be high potential for a significant storm day over southeastern AZ today, with severe macrobursts likely - given the high cloud bases and very hot subcloud BL.

In the longer term it finally appears that a wave of significance will move across the lower GoC. The models indicate substantial cool advection at 700 mb with the tropical wave that is now over Mexico and indicate significant storm activity likely in Sinaloa and southern Sonora - perhaps even moving out over the GoC. It would be nice to have some sounding observations over Mexico to help one evaluate the model forecasts, but all of northern Mexico has been without upper-air data for almost a month now. The evolution and movement of the wave, as predicted by the models, as well as the cool advection and rainfall would trigger a low-level surge of high moisture values into southern Arizona sometime between early morning on Tuesday and mid-day on Wednesday.

All in all, it looks like a number of very interesting days are on tap for us here in southeastern Arizona.

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