Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Newton Brings Steady Rain to Southeast Arizona

Former Hurricane Newton continues it's northward movement and is moving through Sonora this morning on its way to southern Arizona.  A predecessor rain event lies across Arizona and New Mexico.

As of 6 am MDT this morning, Newton had wakened to tropical storm strength with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph.  Still, he has held together rather well over the Gulf of California and State of Sonora.  Data coverage in Sonora is very limited, but one inland site near Hermosillo reported maximum sustained winds of 45 mph with a peak gust of 64 mph.

Source: Mesowest
The major impacts of Newton now will be rain and related flooding.  The National Weather Service has issued flash flood watches for southeast Arizona and southwest New Mexico.  As I write this, they have a flash flood warning out for the Nogalas Wash with nearby rainfall reaching as high as 1.25 inches in the past 24 hours.

Source: NWS
 As precipitation shields go, this one is about as broad and continuous as they get in that part of the world.  Most of the gaps you see in the radar image below are areas where the beam is blocked by topography.  On the other hand, intense cells have been limited so far.

Source: NCAR/RAL
The sounding from Tucson this morning was juicy, with a surface dewpoint of 66ºF and a precipitable water of 4.7 cm.  Southeasterly and easterly flow in advance of Newton extends to about 700 mb (10,000 ft).

Source: NCAR/RAL
Given the high humidity, the good news is that temperatures are mild (71ºF) and I suspect the locals will enjoy the rain, which has fallen continuously since about 1 am MDT at the Tucson airport.  The view of the Santa Catalina Mountains from the University of Arizona campus this morning makes me so jealous.  They will get more rain today than we've had in Salt Lake in 3 months!

Source: University of Arizona
More on this event at the Madweather blog by Bob Maddox, former director of the National Severe Storms Lab.  

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