Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Gusty Winds Prevail

West to northwest winds were gusty and stronger than anticipated yesterday afternoon, particularly in eastern Pima and Santa Cruz Counties - the airport reported gusts to 32 mph and Nogales 35 mph. Winds were stronger over in Cochise County, where gusts of 40 to 50 mph were common - Pioneer Airfield reported 46 mph and the wind-plagued RAWS site at Guthrie had 52 mph. There was some dust blowing in the wind yesterday - the view of the Catalinas above shows a touch and the view toward Redington pass was much more obscured.

Winds from the east will intrude into southeast Arizona tonight and tomorrow, and the 06 UTC WRF-GFS forecast of 10-m winds is interesting. The graphic below is valid at 10 am MST tomorrow morning and the small-scale details are notable in eastern Pima County. There is a swath of strong winds forecast along the I-10 corridor, but the strongest winds forecast in the metro area seem to be along the Rillito, dowstream from Redington Pass (note that dark orange to red tones indicate winds of 30 to 35 mph). There are two other zones of stronger winds forecast on the north and south slopes of the Santa Rita Mountains. The morning temperatures, with the east winds, are considerably warmer than (by 10 F or so) than are current NWS grid forecasts for the metro area. We'll see tomorrow how accurate the details of this 1.8 km, WRF forecast are.

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