A SYNOPTIC CLIMATOLOGY OF HEAVY SNOW EVENTS AFFECTING WEST TEXAS AND EASTERN NEW MEXICO (131)

Jeffrey Vitale, NWS Lubbock, Lubbock, TX

 

Abstract:

Over the course of a 29-year period from the 1988-1989 winter season through the 2016-2017 winter season, 98 heavy snow events affected West Texas and eastern New Mexico. For each event, a 500 hPa synoptic pattern was identified and classified into four distinct categories (A, B, C, and D). Synoptic types A, B, and C are all a variation of a split-flow and accounted for 88 of the 98 events. The final synoptic pattern, type D, is characterized by a full latitude trough. Further research revealed that 67 of the 98 cases contained a closed height contour at the onset of heavy snow. Additionally, 55 events saw the minimum height contour filling or weakening with the remainder of events either deepening or exhibiting no change. A similar study was conducted as a requirement for a Master's Thesis at Texas Tech University in 1993 for the 33-year period from the 1955-56 winter season through the 1987-88 winter season. This previous unpublished study was compared with the current investigation to determine if similar results can be achieved. A much larger database combining both studies was then created which can assist operational forecasters in pattern recognition of significant winter weather events.