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One small squiggle See tilde.  on a map could mean one giant leap for Santa Fe Santa Fe, city, Argentina
Santa Fe, city (1991 pop. 341,000), capital of Santa Fe prov., NE Argentina, a river port near the Paraná, with which it is connected by canal.
 weather warnings.

The National Weather Service will launch a reconfigured zone map of New Mexico New Mexico, state in the SW United States. At its northwestern corner are the so-called Four Corners, where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah meet at right angles; New Mexico is also bordered by Oklahoma (NE), Texas (E, S), and Mexico (S).  at 3 p.m. today. The new map will better reflect terrain and climatology climatology

Branch of atmospheric science concerned with describing climate and analyzing the causes and practical consequences of climatic differences and changes. Climatology treats the same atmospheric processes as meteorology, but it also seeks to identify slower-acting
 -- and it includes a separate forecasting area for Santa Fe Metro.

The goal is to improve the accuracy of warnings issued for Santa Fe and other communities and regions across the state, said Daniel Porter, a senior meteorologist at the service in Albuquerque.

"In the past, let's say we had snows coming in to Angel Fire and Eagle Nest," Porter said. "Those areas were all grouped together with Santa Fe and the Sangre de Cristos, and so we'd have to issue a winter storm warning See Severe weather terminology for a comprehensive article on this term and related weather terms.

A Winter Storm Warning is an announcement made by the National Weather Service of the United States which means a winter storm is occurring or is about to occur in
 for all of them, even though we knew Santa Fe wouldn't get snow."

On the new map, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains Sangre de Cristo Mountains (săng`grē də krĭs`tō), part of the S Rocky Mts., extending c.220 mi (350 km) from S central Colo. into N central N.Mex.  have been split into four zones, and Santa Fe has been split off from them -- which means if the service predicts snow for the Santa Fe Metro zone, it will actually mean it.

"Santa Fe, I would say, is probably going to be the most affected by this change," Porter said. "We've made lots of tweaks and retooled a lot of things. Santa Fe Metro will be more in line with the lower elevation sites now, like other towns in the Rio Grande Rio Grande, city, Brazil
Rio Grande (rē` grän`dĭ), city (1991 pop.

The new map likely won't change day-to-day forecasting as much as it will alter things like weather warnings for snowstorms, wind or flooding.

"Our warnings will be more detailed, and we're not going to issue warnings for big blocks of areas anymore," Porter said.

Santa Fe isn't the only spot that was subject to inaccurate warnings from the old zone maps. Farmington would often get warnings for snowstorms in southern Colorado because of its large zone, even when the service knew the storms were unlikely to reach the city, Porter said.

"Our new zone for Raton will also help a lot -- that zone used to stretch to Las Vegas Las Vegas (läs vā`gəs), city (1990 pop. 258,295), seat of Clark co., S Nev.; inc. 1911. It is the largest city in Nevada and the center of one of the fastest-growing urban areas in the United States. ," Porter said. "Las Vegas would get winter snow warnings because it was grouped with Raton, and people would call us, looking up at the sky, telling us it was all clear."

Overall, the map has grown from 22 zones based somewhat along county lines into 40 zones based more on geography.

A group of forecasters and management in the Albuquerque office has been working on the change for about a year. But other than a few software tweaks and taking time to send out a lot of notifications, the change didn't cost the service much of anything, Porter said.

"A lot of this work we did on our regular shifts, when it was slow," Porter said. "It's just a lot of tweaks, but we hope it will have a big impact on the products we provide."

Contact Sue Vorenberg

at svorenberg@
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Publication:The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM)
Date:Jul 22, 2009
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