Wintry weather to arrive in northern NM tonight
Record or near record temperatures projected Monday morning across northern, central NM
Winter is coming. Meteorologists from the National Weather Service said on Friday they expect an early season blast of winter weather to arrive in northern New Mexico tonight into Sunday, bringing bitter cold and significant snowfall Sunday night into Monday.
Temperatures are expected to plummet to below freezing with wind chill values in the single digits across northeast New Mexico from Sunday night into Monday morning.
High temperatures on Sunday may not get much above freezing across the northeast plains. Temperatures will be well below normal across the entire area by Monday, when highs will range from 20 to 35 degrees below normal.
“We see an upper low take shape over southern California, and, at the same time, a very cold early fall trough is going to move down the front range of the Rockies,” said Brian Guyer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque. “Those two systems are going to try to phase together and create some pretty potent dynamics across the state.”
Winds behind the front will make it feel even colder, with wind chill values dipping into the teens across east central and single digits across northeast New Mexico on Sunday night.
Forecasters expect the front to create strong east canyon and gap winds into the Rio Grande Valley from Sunday night through Monday between Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Socorro.
In addition to much colder temperatures, the first snowfall of the season will come to a number of northern and central New Mexico locations between Sunday and Monday, according to forecasters.
Significant travel impacts, including portions of the Interstate 25 and 40 corridors as well as U.S. Highway 64, could develop as a result of heavy snow, flash freeze conditions and locally breezy winds. The greatest travel impact will likely begin tonight or early Sunday and persist through Monday.
Snow accumulations of up to two feet atop the peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains with several inches over the adjacent high terrain are possible by the end of Monday. A foot or more of snow could fall in Red River and Angel Fire by Monday evening.
Snow levels will fall significantly Sunday night into Monday to include most lower elevation locations near and north of Interstate 40, including the Albuquerque and Santa Fe metro areas.
Relatively warm ground temperatures will likely limit any snow accumulation in the Albuquerque and Santa Fe areas to elevated and grassy areas.
The system could potentially bring the first freeze to the metro area early next week.
After a high temperature near 60 degrees on Sunday, metro Albuquerque residents can expect temperatures to drop with the front into the mid 30s Sunday night and only warm into the mid 40s on Monday.
“If Albuquerque freezes on Monday morning, that will be earliest freeze here since 1986,” Guyer said. “If we pick up a tenth of an inch of snow or more, it will be the third earliest snowfall on record. This is really a rare event for the middle of October.”
Precipitation chances gradually decline into the middle of next week with temperatures remaining below normal.
Residents should continue to monitor weather forecasts for watches, warnings and changing conditions.