The Northeast Heatwave

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 9:08 AM GMT on July 07, 2010

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Hi, Dr. Rob Carver, filling in for Jeff while he's on vacation.

The most significant weather event in the US on July 6, 2010 didn't show up on any radar. The geostationary satellites didn't see it in their constant watch over the Earth's atmosphere. Instead, the tale of this event was told by the thermometers, because the heatwave in the Northeast was the most significant event for July 6, and it will likely be the most important weather story for July 7.

The heat wave covers Pennsylvania to Maine, but Tuesday's worst was centered over New York City. All six of the stations used by the New York NWS office for climate reports (Central Park, La Guardia, JFK, Islip, Bridgeport, and Newark) set or tied the daily high temperature record. Newark and Central Park both reached 103 degrees F.

How unusual is this heat wave?
Figures 1 and 2 show how warm the highs and lows are compared to 30 year averages. Unless you were at the Great Lakes, the Midwest and Northeast have highs well above normal, with 10-15+ degree F differences over the coastal cities of the Northeast. Using my gridded temperature data, the low for New York City was 6 degrees F above normal, which should happen 30% of the time (1.1 standard deviations away from normal). The high was roughly 20 degrees above normal, which should happen only 0.29% of the time (3.04 standard deviations away from normal). This is an unusually strong heat wave.

Why it's hot
Basically, it's because there is "the Bull of a high pressure ridge [over the NE US]" to quote the Mount Holly NWS office forecast discussion. The large ridge of high pressure is forcing air to slowly descend across the Northeast, preventing clouds from forming. Without no clouds and plenty of daylight, the Sun heats the ground which then heats the air.

When will it cool down?
That's an excellent question. A trough of low pressure off the coast will bring onshore winds to the Tri-State area and MA by Thursday, so they should cool down a bit. The southern part of the heat wave, DC and Philadelphia, will have to wait for a cold front to arrive from the Great Lakes sometime Saturday to get relief.

Population affected
As Figure 3 shows, heat advisories covered most of the urban areas of the northeastern US. By my calculations, over 32 million people were under a heat advisory. Different offices have different guidelines for heat advisories. The NWS office responsible for New York issues a heat advisory if the heat index will be above 95 deg. F for two or more days or if the index will be above 100 deg. F for any length of time.


Fig.1 Plot of the difference between maximum temperature (the high for the day) and average maximum temperature in degrees F for July 6.


Fig.2 Plot of the difference between minimum temperature (the low for the day) and average minimum temperature in degrees F for July 6.


Fig.3 Plot of the active heat advisories across the northeastern US for July 6.

Heatwave impacts
The predominant impact from heat waves is increased mortality. CDC estimates that over 8,000 people died during heat waves from 1979 to 2003. That's more than all of the deaths due to lightning, flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes. The elderly, sick, poor, and very young face the worst of the effects of the heat. Wikipedia has an interesting article describing the Chicago Heat Wave of 1995, a modern heat wave with a large number of fatalities due to the heat.

Heatwave coping strategies
The Centers for Disease Control have some tips for dealing with the heat. In summary, drink plenty of water, spend time in air-conditioned buildings, and wear light-colored clothing.

Is this heat wave due to global warming?
Ah, the $64,000 question. In the absence of detailed analysis, it's hard to specify the exact cause for this heat wave, from a meteorological or climatological view point. However, events like this are consistent with research showing that heat waves are more likely with
global warming
. I like the metaphor of loaded dice, global warming is not specifically responsible for any heat wave, but it will make them happen more often.

Tropics
My thinking on Invest 96L is unchanged from this blog entry. In summary, I believe that 96L has a <50 % chance becoming a tropical cyclone before it makes landfall. If it does so, it will likely be near the coast when that happens. In any event though, the winds and waves it generates will likely disrupt oil spill recovery efforts. Also, I would expect a broad area of showers and 20+ mph winds will affect the Gulf coast somewhere from south Texas to Louisiana.

Next update
I'll have an update this afternoon to talk about the tropics.

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Quoting tropicfreak:


Well you all aren't in a major heat wave when temps are skyrocketing 100+. Here in Richmond(va) we haven't seen any rain in 3-4 weeks. The drought index for us is yellow.


It's funny how each part of the country is so different. What you described is typical down here in Texas for a summer, but I know for y'all that's not. We are just happy not to be in red or burgandy for the drought index, at the moment.
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1786. Patrap
Quoting Hurricanes101:


a surface trof and a front are 2 totally different things


What the ell are you talking about JPhurricane...?

I never stated anywhere about anything other than to SHOW THE IMAGES.

Get a Life .






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1785. bappit
While I was doing graduate work at UM in 2005, I was involved in a project called RAINEX (Hurricane Rainband and Intensity Change Experiment). It was a multimillion dollar project that involved the University of Miami, University of Washington, NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) and several other agencies. I had many jobs with it, but I was the lead forecaster, my first real taste of forecasting. I had to provide briefings every day at 11 AM and give the possibility of tropical cyclone formation. What they really wanted to know was there going to be any rapid intensity changes, because that's what the project was targeting. It put me to the test, the biggest challenge of my professional life up to that point. It was my first taste of hurricane forecasting.

What came next?

Since being in graduate school, I was into numerical modeling. So for the RAINEX project, I was able to conduct a team of models, similar to the GFDL used here at NHC, but custom-made for the project. I would present some of our model simulations during the briefings. But the project only lasted three months, then after that it was all research.


There's a lesson in there Levi. He wanted to do operational meteorology and studied numerical modeling.
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Quoting IKE:


could become a TD at any time.
Happy?

July 7, 2010 - 9:15 PM EDT - 96L Could Become A Tropical Depression At Any Time

Lol.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
1783. IKE
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Just by listening to the tone of the TWO I'm very sure we will get a TD soon.


I've had days here when I had an 80% chance of rain and it didn't.

I'd have to say TD likely. Just a thought.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting hunkerdown:
and here I have been repeatedly hitting F5, and nothing...


Is RECON investigating 96L at this moment?
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Quoting BahaHurican:
I know Houston would hate it, and Corpus would too, but I would really be glad if 96L / possible Bonnie went more towards that part of the coast than W towards Brownsville. Despite its disorganization, this is another wet system, and I don't think the Rio Grande valley / tributaries can take too much more...

I'm with ya there, Baha...go north young Invest! Times like these I think of the movie Apollo 9.
If enough people hope hard enough, maybe we can change the odds.
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1780. Levi32
Quoting Patrap:
Click FRONTS and MSLP

96L Gulf Of Mexico - False Color RGB Loop


The MSLP layer is inaccurate, and often is on those loops.
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1779. USSINS
Quoting IKE:


could become a TD at any time.



...or not. ;P
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haha The tracks finally appeared when I refreshed the page for the third time. Thanks, Pat.
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1776. Patrap
The "Squeeze" iz On

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Quoting Patrap:
Click FRONTS and MSLP

96L Gulf Of Mexico - False Color RGB Loop


a surface trof and a front are 2 totally different things
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Quoting TxGrandma:
At least you fared better than we did -- the powers-that-be insisted we evacuate to Lufkin. When they evacuated Lufkin, we said the heck with it and came back home. Never even lost power at home.
That Rita evacuation was one big cluster-you-know-what! Blame it all on Katrina! Too fresh in everyone's minds. Scared the hell out of a lot of people.
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1773. IKE
Quoting hunkerdown:
and here I have been repeatedly hitting F5, and nothing...


LOL!
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting IKE:


could become a TD at any time.
Just by listening to the tone of the TWO I'm very sure we will get a TD soon.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
1771. gator23
Quoting gulfbreeze:
But when they are in the Gulf there is no way out!

yup trapped like a rat in a cage.
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Quoting IKE:


could become a TD at any time.
and here I have been repeatedly hitting F5, and nothing...
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1769. Patrap
Click FRONTS and MSLP

96L Gulf Of Mexico - False Color RGB Loop
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Quoting bappit:

Got to deliver the line myself. That's the extent of my career on stage. Odd that Cangialosi has a twin.
I suppose I shouldn't admit it, but that's my FAVE Shakespearean comedy.... the mixed twins plot line is CLASSIC... literally.... lol

Wonder what his brother does that's not wx related....
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21486
Quoting Patrap:
If one cant see this.

They need a serious browser upgrade.

Strange that I always see your graphics just fine but all I see here is a map of the land masses with no model forecast tracks.
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1766. IKE
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Blog Update!

July 7, 2010 - 9:15 PM EDT - 96L To Become A Tropical Depression At Any Time


could become a TD at any time.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1765. gator23
Quoting TexasHurricane:


yes, it would be great if none of us got hit this year.....but I don't see that happening...considering we have already had 1 Hurricane and whatever 96L becomes...

we will all get smacked. its a matter or numbers and time.
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1764. Levi32
Quoting StormW:


That's right where there is some good convection firing.



Yeah and it really needs to get those cloud tops back up there to -60C or better. Alex's cool wake is really doing a number on its convective development.

Time to say goodnight as sunset falls:

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Quoting AllBoardedUp:
Post#1593 Hey Story, the funny thing is I evacuated TO Corpus Christi from Galveston during Rita!
At least you fared better than we did -- the powers-that-be insisted we evacuate to Lufkin. When they evacuated Lufkin, we said the heck with it and came back home. Never even lost power at home.
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Quoting KerryInNOLA:
All visitors remember that all opinions on this blog are from amateur enthusiasts and are not reflective of the NHC. They are therefore highly suspect and for entertainment purposes only!
That's what the kids in my Algebra classes say...
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Quoting gator23:

no worries, i know that the majority of the people on this blog are mostly from the gulf area and I think its easy to forget sometimes that peninsular Florida is the most susceptible than most other states.
But when they are in the Gulf there is no way out!
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Quoting BahaHurican:
I know Houston would hate it, and Corpus would too, but I would really be glad if 96L / possible Bonnie went more towards that part of the coast than W towards Brownsville. Despite its disorganization, this is another wet system, and I don't think the Rio Grande valley / tributaries can take too much more...


Well you all aren't in a major heat wave when temps are skyrocketing 100+. Here in Richmond(va) we haven't seen any rain in 3-4 weeks. The drought index for us is yellow.
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Blog Update!

July 7, 2010 - 9:15 PM EDT - 96L To Become A Tropical Depression At Any Time
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
1758. bappit
Quoting BahaHurican:
Not The Comedy of Errors!!!! Holy cripes! The blog's literary!!!

Got to deliver the line myself. That's the extent of my career on stage. Odd that Cangialosi has a twin.
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1757. Patrap
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1756. USSINS
Quoting Patrap:


Check out Bloggers DocNDswamps take on 95 in the directory or in my blog.

Hes a guy who Knows his stuff.


Big time



Agreed. Here's the link. Post #42.
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Quoting TexasHurricane:


yeah, hopefully it won't..... gotta love those smiley faces... :)


Lol. Yeah great minds... Well you don't wanna think like me. I'll stop with the smilys b4 I get banned.
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Quoting Story:


Ahhh the things memories are made of! LOL
Hey, my contingency plan was to go to Nederland (Beaumont area) to stay in a house that a cousin uses on the weekends. That house ended up with 2 feet of water in it, so it all worked out after all.
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Quoting gator23:

no worries, i know that the majority of the people on this blog are mostly from the gulf area and I think its easy to forget sometimes that peninsular Florida is the most susceptible than most other states.


yes, it would be great if none of us got hit this year.....but I don't see that happening...considering we have already had 1 Hurricane and whatever 96L becomes...
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Quoting bakers:
96L sure is lacking convection. degeneraion is occuring.


Heavy thunderstorms are still firing up in the outer bands
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Quoting Patrap:


Nopa..

LOL

Check out Bloggers DocNDswamps take on 95 in the directory or in my blog.

Hes a guy who Knows his stuff.


Big time



according to the NHC 95L was attached to a frontal boundary until 3 hours prior to landfall and and that time when it finally detached it showed poor convection and overall organization. Had 95L detached from the front even 12 hours earlier, it probably would have been classified, but while it was close I think they made the right call

96L is a much different animal, it is fully tropical in nature
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1749. JLPR2
Quoting IKE:


Merida,Mexico at 21N and 89.7W has had rain and TS off and on all day....Link


And their temperature is anomalously low for that area
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Quoting Patrap:
If one cant see this.

They need a serious browser upgrade.

00z Early Cycle NHC model tracks
Invest96
Statistical/Simple Models (CLIPER,BAMs,LBAR,other Statistical Models)






Dynamic Models (More sophisticated models)





Early Model Wind Forecasts
could you please post that in braile, I'm blind...
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Quoting BahaHurican:
With u on this one... he has a fine sense of drama, and possibly even a fine sense of humor... doesn't seem to take himself too seriously...


You guys sound like potential customers for my next product...NHC trading cards!
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1451
1746. IKE
Brownsville,TX 248NM radar....

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
I know Houston would hate it, and Corpus would too, but I would really be glad if 96L / possible Bonnie went more towards that part of the coast than W towards Brownsville. Despite its disorganization, this is another wet system, and I don't think the Rio Grande valley / tributaries can take too much more...
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21486
1743. gator23
Quoting PtownBryan:


Sorry Gator... I know the east coast gets hit too!

no worries, i know that the majority of the people on this blog are mostly from the gulf area and I think its easy to forget sometimes that peninsular Florida is the most susceptible than most other states.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
verdes are coming
Cape Verde...and here I was looking for something green :P
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1741. bappit
Hmmmm, from the bio:

Yes, it is rather ironic that my brother [his twin] and I went to Miami, as we both met our wives here. My (future) wife lived right next door to me in the dorm when I moved in, the first person I talked to when I moved to Miami. And I know this sounds fake but it's real, my brother, his wife, was my wife's roommate. They both lived next door!

That could be interesting. Wonder if he is ever confused with his brother.
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Quoting StormW:


That's right where there is some good convection firing.



Great structure,I think we may be seeing TD2 right there.
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Quoting gator23:

Its my Florida centric view. We have no choice but to go inland.
Too funny! Personally, I like going left or right of the storm and hopefully not have to deal with it inland as well. Preferably to the dry side. I hope everyone doesn't copy my strategy, I like having to deal with less traffic.
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1738. Patrap
Quoting bappit:

Hey, Patrap ... sure you didn't get the pictures reversed?


Nopa..

LOL

Check out Bloggers DocNDswamps take on 95 in the directory or in my blog.

Hes a guy who Knows his stuff.


Big time

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1737. IKE
Quoting JLPR2:
Convection is way stronger over the Yucatan than over 96L itself XD



Merida,Mexico at 21N and 89.7W has had rain and TS off and on all day....Link
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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