HIGH WIND AND RED FLAG WARNINGS FOR MOST ALL OF WEST TEXAS ON WEDNESDAY! 

12.18.12.nws.lbb.wind.fcst

High Wind event that we told you a few days ago is now about 12 hours away!

As depicted in the graphic from the National Weather Service office in Lubbock, TX, a strong upper level system will be moving out into the central plains, and as is usually the case with systems that take this route, we are once again on the dry and windy side of things.

Highest upper level winds should be over western Texas by morning on Wednesday, although it appears there may be some lingering early clouds. If so, that will help keep the winds down a bit until later. Moisture will move east and deep mixing will begin and bring those winds down to the surface.

 12.18.12.nws.alerts

HIGH WIND WARNINGS have been posted for a wide area, including all of northwest Texas, and most of southwest Texas, along with eastern and central New Mexico. All of the area in light brown in the above graphic is under the High Wind Warnings, with High Wind Watches in the darker brown areas in Oklahoma and Kansas. A good deal of the area is also under RED FLAG WARNINGS as fire weather will be critical, especially in an area along and about 100 miles either side of a line from the Big Bend northeastward to the Childress area, as depicted in the graphic below.

 12.19.12.crit.fire.wx

Across Northwest Texas, we can expect sustained winds in the 35-45 mph range, with gusts above 60 mph! Winds may be a tad less across the Permian Basin and in the southwest in the plains area east of the mountains, since they are farther south from this storm system, but nonetheless will still be quite high at 30-40 mph gusting to 60 mph.

Guadalupe Pass area may see gusts as high as 100 mph! I expect DPS will close the road through the pass tomorrow due to the high winds.

This even will bring about several concerns, the first of which is FIRE! It doesn’t take much to get a massive wildfire going under the conditions we are expecting, so please be very diligent. Even that “harmless” cigarette butt you throw out the window can cause a fire consuming 1000s of acres as well as homes and livestock. Keep it in the car! Also don’t burn any trash or any other outdoor activities that involve fire or sparks. Winds will also be high enough to cause power line/pole failures, which can also spark off wildfires.

Travel will be hazardous, especially those travelling north/south, and in higher profile vehicles. In eastern New Mexico, as well as the Northern Permian basin and northward into the South Plains and Panhandle, dust will be at it’s worst, and we can expect zero visibilities in some areas next to open fields and contruction areas. Please slow down when visibilities go down this far. You might think you can handle it, but up might unknowingly be driving into a 10 car pileup! Please adjust to the driving conditions.

By midday, the system to our north will introduce a strong cold front in the Panhandle that will quickly move southward. The highest winds in the Panhandle in fact may be the strongest after the cold front passes with the post-frontal gusts 55-60mph.

This cold front should clear the South Plains by evening. Winds should be on the decrease after dark, and the front ushering in much cooler weather with temps in the Panhandle on Thursday in the 40s and the rest of of West Texas may struggle to make it out of the 50s.

We’ll also bring you more later on the potential winter storm for Texas the week of Christmas!