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 atmoaggie:
You caught that, too...if Rita really had made landfall at Galveston/Bolivar, there would have been much less for Ike to erase...


Ike was big enough to impact areas that Rita hit as well, so that actually isn't too big a stretch. :)
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting sailingallover:

Levi..I Know you love a good storm..but I only look so i can didge them as my life, boat and all other assets depend on them. I WANT the NE trades and Colombian Low.
And the pressure pattern is what I was talking about with the 1016 line. Waves ride along it. Notice the high has been above normal and way farther east. I like it over Bermuda with a Colombian low and a big trough at 50-45W then I get some cooler drier air and any storms re-curve early. We don't all love hurricanes...
I know I can get banned for saying that but..
MY kind of weather.. June was HOT..


I didn't mean that. You made it sound like you were implying that the pattern was unfavorable for activity out there and that the absence of the Columbian Low was bad for tropical development, which isn't true. My bad if I misunderstood.

Also, my passion drives me to love storms, but I certainly do not wish a bad season on anyone this year.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26685
Quoting NttyGrtty:
Sorry, I was responding to your quote of flood, not your post per se. If you perceived an attack, appologies, unintended. I asked Admin a simple question, that's all...really, really


Okie Dokie. Apologies accepted. Hope no offense was taken on your end either.
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Quoting Levi32:
They should have kept the recon scheduled for sure.


considering it isn't that far, I wonder if they can reschedule recon to go out tonight or early tomorrow morning
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7874
Quoting Hurricanes101:


If you go back 3 hours on the 850mb level vorticity you will see the circulation has gotten tighter now than it was, It will continue to tighten up as we go foward today. Also tropical systems can have elongated centers as long as they are closed; Alex did when it was first classified


I don't disagree with any of that. :)
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782. IKE
Quoting Levi32:
They should have kept the recon scheduled for sure.


Sorry if it sounds like I'm bashing the NHC all the time. They did an excellent job on Alex...but I'm puzzled by their actions on 95L and 96L.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Quoting StormW:
Good afternoon!
Good Afternoon Storm. How is 96L.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
You caught that, too...if Rita really had made landfall at Galveston/Bolivar, there would have been much less for Ike to erase...
Ain't that the truth!
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Quoting Levi32:


Trade winds were below normal during June across most of the tropical Atlantic, which you can see below.

Having the Columbian Heat Low absent is very good for tropical development. You don't want lower pressures across South America driving the ENE trades through the Caribbean and ruining surface convergence. High pressure over northern South America gives a westerly component to the winds and causes air to pile up in the Caribbean, promoting convergence, upward motion, and lower pressures.

Also, look at where the pressure pattern was setting up all of June. Pressures have been lower than normal with an axis along 20N, a very prime pattern setting up an active hurricane season. The ITCZ low pressure belt is not weaker than normal. The players are setting up just as we were talking about this past winter.

June 2010 Surface wind-speed anomalies:



June 2010 surface pressure anomalies:


Levi..I Know you love a good storm..but I only look so i can didge them as my life, boat and all other assets depend on them. I WANT the NE trades and Colombian Low.
And the pressure pattern is what I was talking about with the 1016 line. Waves ride along it. Notice the high has been above normal and way farther east. I like it over Bermuda with a Colombian low and a big trough at 50-45W then I get some cooler drier air and any storms re-curve early. We don't all love hurricanes...
I know I can get banned for saying that but..
MY kind of weather.. June was HOT..
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They should have kept the recon scheduled for sure.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26685
Quoting txalwaysprepared:


Sort of... not exactly. Rita was a bit further east.
You caught that, too...if Rita really had made landfall at Galveston/Bolivar, there would have been much less for Ike to erase...
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To be very nitpicky -- Rita made landfall at Sabina Pass/Louisiana State Line. Ike made landfall in Galveston.

(Houston/Galveston did not get much from Rita)
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Quoting txalwaysprepared:


Sort of... not exactly. Rita was a bit further east.
If I remember correctly, the eye of Rita came ashore at the mouth of the Sabine, Ike came right over Galveston, about 90 to 100 miles between the two locations.
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Quoting KarenRei:


You can't see the area SE of there on that pass, which on visible appears to be stretching well SE at the ~850mb level (which is what I was basing my assessment on). Also the GOES vorticity chart shows an elongated zone of vorticity at 850mb:



If you go back 3 hours on the 850mb level vorticity you will see the circulation has gotten tighter now than it was, It will continue to tighten up as we go foward today. Also tropical systems can have elongated centers as long as they are closed; Alex did when it was first classified
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7874
Quoting Jynni99:
I think Portlight is a great thing. I just got back from taking my daughter to the Weather Museum here in Houston (I did not even know there was one till I was browsing around last night for something to do). I stayed and helped feed the National Guard and Emergency Mgmt people through Ike and got to see the destruction first hand. In the museum the biggest thing that stood out was the point someone on a video made that a lot of what happened during Ike wasn't show by the media like it was during Katrina. A lot of what happened was forgotten it did not get the celebrities help fund raise for it etc. so huge props to what other do to help those who really need it!


I had heard there was a Weather Museum here, but I haven't been there yet. Looking at the website, it looks to be a lot more children-oriented. Is this accurate? Or would it be enjoyable for someone in their mid-twenties?
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Quoting txalwaysprepared:


We used to camp at that park all the time as kids!


That was our favourite place to go to the beach on Galveston. Not as crowded as further east, and generally cleaner. We got a park pass because we went often enough. Then Ike hit. We've only been to the Island once since Ike, and that was last year. We didn't go down to the park, but according to FOGISP beach access is available now (for awhile, only the portions of the park north of FM-3005 were open).
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
770. 7544
we might see a yellow circle soon on the east blob what u think jas ?
Member Since: May 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6874
Quoting IKE:


Then why doesn't the NHC send recon in? I understand the other missions they've got, but send a recon plane in...which is what they should have done with 95L.


Not sure. They cancelled it at 12:00pm and ever since 96L has continued to show signs of organization. It looks like a tropical depression is forming to me as the circulation continues to get better defined.
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Quoting kelley9:


I wasn't either, It was simply my impression that it was started here, which as it turns out, they just have a hand in it. That doesn't mean this site doesn't want other charities out, they simply likely want to promote theirs first. If you want to promote a charity or anything raising money on this particular blog, it would probably be wise to ask admin first.

There's no need to attack me, I was just trying to answer your question by explaining to you the origins/affiliations of Portlight, (even if my details were off and explained later) which is what you wanted, right?

It's not under my control what others post. What do you want me to say? I'm sorry people like Portlight? I'm sorry Portlight is a great organization? I'm sorry that some people think Portlight might be better than your charity of choice? Would it make a difference on your choosing of organizations? I highly doubt it. If you don't like what the outcome may bring, don't post anything. That's usually my rule of thumb.
Sorry, I was responding to your quote of flood, not your post per se. If you perceived an attack, appologies, unintended. I asked Admin a simple question, that's all...really, really
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


latest ASCAT pass that Drakoen just posted shows the circulation is not elongated, it is a bit broad though


You can't see the area SE of there on that pass, which on visible appears to be stretching well SE at the ~850mb level (which is what I was basing my assessment on). Also the GOES vorticity chart shows an elongated zone of vorticity at 850mb:

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765. 7544
models not always right but imo a invest can pop up anywhere at any time even if the models dont show anything we have seen this happen many times so hang on some are on the way i dont believe when someone says it will be quiet for the next 10 days or so on mother nature always get in control so if you see a big blob outthere keep on top of it this time of year it all up in the airit could become your next name storm . stay tuned .
Member Since: May 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6874
Quoting Drakoen:
Nice circular closed low



Could see a bump up to 60-70% on the next TWO. I've seen worse looking systems than 96L.
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Quoting homelesswanderer:


Yeah we are used to that in Texas. But I must say I was surprised when someone on this blog from Houston didn't know Rita hit Texas. Then another from Houston didn't know that Ike hit where Rita did. Lol. Our SE TX is not Houston. So I guess the coverage was bad.


Sort of... not exactly. Rita was a bit further east.
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Quoting IKE:


NHC should be saying something about it in their TWO.


I think they may tonight, that area will be there for several days, so it will have a chance to develop and the tropical wave by the Bahamas could be that spark it needs
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7874
(REMOVED).. I never really "hyped" 90L after it passed the Carolinas, I was still watching it because in all reality, shear was low and the ONLY thing that inhibited development into a Subtropical storm was dry air which the models did not point out right. Come on now, that is a bad excuse to ignore a blogger who is still learning.
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760. IKE
Quoting reedzone:


They are now calling it the "Reed Low" because I'm the only onw watching it on here lol. It does stand a chance for Subtropical development, only 20-30%, still a chance.


NHC should be saying something about it in their TWO.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Quoting angiest:


Oh I understand that. Plus lots of celebrities live, or at least have homes, in New Orleans. Not to detract from the tragedy that happened in New Orleans, but that doesn't make what happened to coastal communities any less bad.

I don't think a lot of people around here even realize just how bad the damage to Bolivar was. We all saw the huge granite boulders that used to lie at the base of the Sea Wall that were washed on to Sea Wall Blvd, but Bolivar got it much worse, and even the West end of Galveston (the Sea Wall protects less than a third of the Island) took a nasty blow from the weak side of Ike.

The following picture is from Galveston State Park and shows the remains of a picnic table/shelter. This is several miles to the west of landfall. This structure was behind the dunes:



We used to camp at that park all the time as kids!
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757. IKE
Quoting Drakoen:
Nice circular closed low



Then why doesn't the NHC send recon in? I understand the other missions they've got, but send a recon plane in...which is what they should have done with 95L.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
That convection at 24N 68W is going off.. NOGAPS(don't laugh to hard)
had the wave developing there over the weekend but not anymore.

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Quoting AllBoardedUp:
Do they play football in Katy? LOL


They've been known to play football in Katy. From time-to-time.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting KarenRei:


Circulation is still elongated, but not as much as last night. Convection is near the peak of the circulation. Probably not too long until this is called as a TD -- 12-36h. It certainly could ramp up to TS strength before landfall, although it's far from a certainty. It's going to be a rain event no matter what.


latest ASCAT pass that Drakoen just posted shows the circulation is not elongated, it is a bit broad though
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7874
Quoting Hurricanes101:


who is hyping? So it is ok for you to hang on to systems that have no shot at development, but it is hype if we are watching 96L for development?


One of the many reasons he is an empty space for me.
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3782
Quoting AllBoardedUp:
Post# 688, I saw it all first hand with Ike, and later with Katrina. I have relatives in Biloxi and D'Iberville and we were there visiting 2 months before Katrina (actually I was at a casino went Cindy was coming ashore) and had no idea this would be the last time to see the Mississippi coast in its pristine state. We loved driving the coast and looking at all the old houses. We waited 2 years before visiting again because I knew of all the rebuilding taking place. I was stunned to see all of the destruction first hand.


You must have been in Biloxi same time as me. We were there for Cindy. Loved the old houses!! Loved the restaurant Chimneys. Couldn't believe what I saw on TV after Katrina... then two weeks later we were evacuating from Rita (and I was 8 months preg.) Bad summer/fall!!
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suprised baltimore wasn't mentioned, I know some spots got up to 105 degrees there yesterday... official was 103, still a record.
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Quoting IKE:


No...but the ECMWF has done an excellent job this tropical season after it's problems with 90L.
I only follow the models on this Blog, which is cool because someone else is doing the work for me and it is appreciated.
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ECMWF run is certainly interesting. Looks like 96L becomes a TD/weak TS at landfall (Bonnie), and develops a CV storm (Colin) all by next Friday.
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Quoting Daveg:
Definitely still a 'bit' messy, but some nice convection flaring up right over the center. Can't say 96L isn't trying.



Circulation is still elongated, but not as much as last night. Convection is near the peak of the circulation. Probably not too long until this is called as a TD -- 12-36h. It certainly could ramp up to TS strength before landfall, although it's far from a certainty. It's going to be a rain event no matter what.
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considering all the rain Northern Mexico and Southern Texas received from Alex, even a TD or weak TS could be a bad thing there
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7874
Quoting IKE:
I also see the low off of the east coast on the 12Z ECMWF, but it looks like the moisture mostly stays offshore...like Bastardi was saying in his discussion this morning.


They are now calling it the "Reed Low" because I'm the only onw watching it on here lol. It does stand a chance for Subtropical development, only 20-30%, still a chance.
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Quoting angiest:


Katy.
Do they play football in Katy? LOL
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Quoting sailingallover:

Trades are not much weaker than normal and the main reason is the Lows along the ITCZ are weak. The Colombian Low has been MIA. The Shahara Low is solid and right on the coast..
Have to see what develops over the next couple weeks. I'm hoping the Dust stays since we are right on the path of everything that could develop in the Atlantic. The 1016 line has been zonal right across the MDR to the windward leeward islands..the TUTT has been pretty good about shearing everything once it gets here..
It's been a consistent pattern for a month now..


Trade winds were below normal during June across most of the tropical Atlantic, which you can see below.

Having the Columbian Heat Low absent is very good for tropical development. You don't want lower pressures across South America driving the ENE trades through the Caribbean and ruining surface convergence. High pressure over northern South America gives a westerly component to the winds and causes air to pile up in the Caribbean, promoting convergence, upward motion, and lower pressures.

Also, look at where the pressure pattern was setting up all of June. Pressures have been lower than normal with an axis along 20N, a very prime pattern setting up an active hurricane season. The ITCZ low pressure belt is not weaker than normal. The players are setting up just as we were talking about this past winter.

June 2010 Surface wind-speed anomalies:



June 2010 surface pressure anomalies:

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26685
Nice circular closed low

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Quoting TexasHurricane:


Hi Homeless...


Hey Tex.
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Quoting Levi32:


Well I don't know about the best....not by a long-shot, but thank you :)


Well, I understand them and you present them in a way that a lay person can grasp the concepts. That is why I find them very informative.
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Quoting Daveg:
Definitely still a 'bit' messy, but some nice convection flaring up right over the center. Can't say 96L isn't trying.



Ok, I'm not saying this isn't trying, just not impressed with it yet. I need to see more organization on structure, convection seems to be organizing well right now.
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739. IKE
Quoting bohonkweatherman:
Ike are the models always correct?


No...but the ECMWF has done an excellent job this tropical season after it's problems with 90L.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
Quoting AllBoardedUp:
Where are you located? I'm in Hitchcock.


Katy.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting NttyGrtty:
..and I'm not questioning any of the kudos toward portlight, I simply asked a simple question


I wasn't either, It was simply my impression that it was started here, which as it turns out, they just have a hand in it. That doesn't mean this site doesn't want other charities out, they simply likely want to promote theirs first. If you want to promote a charity or anything raising money on this particular blog, it would probably be wise to ask admin first.

There's no need to attack me, I was just trying to answer your question by explaining to you the origins/affiliations of Portlight, (even if my details were off and explained later) which is what you wanted, right?

It's not under my control what others post. What do you want me to say? I'm sorry people like Portlight? I'm sorry Portlight is a great organization? I'm sorry that some people think Portlight might be better than your charity of choice? Would it make a difference on your choosing of organizations? I highly doubt it. If you don't like what the outcome may bring, don't post anything. That's usually my rule of thumb.
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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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