Causes of the Russian heat wave and Pakistani floods

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:56 PM GMT on August 13, 2010

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The Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010 is one of the most intense, widespread, and long-lasting heat waves in world history. Only the European heat wave of 2003, which killed 35,000 - 50,000 people, and the incredible North American heat wave of July 1936, which set all-time extreme highest temperature records in fifteen U.S. states, can compare. All of these heat waves were caused by a highly unusual kink in the jet stream that remained locked in place for over a month. The jet stream is an upper-level river of air, between the altitudes of about 30,000 - 40,000 feet (10,000 - 12,000 meters). In July over Europe and Asia, the jet stream has two branches: a strong southern "subtropical" jet that blows across southern Europe, and a weaker "polar" jet that blows across northern Europe. The polar jet stream carries along the extratropical cyclones (lows) that bring the mid-latitudes most of their precipitation. The polar jet stream also acts as the boundary between cold, Arctic air, and warm tropical air. If the polar jet stream shifts to the north of its usual location, areas just to its south will be much hotter and drier than normal. In July 2010, a remarkably strong polar jet stream developed over northern Europe. This jet curved far to the north of Moscow, then plunged southwards towards Pakistan. This allowed hot air to surge northwards over most of European Russia, and prevented rain-bearing low pressure systems from traveling over the region. These rain-bearing low pressure systems passed far to the north of European Russia, then dove unusually far to the south, into northern Pakistan. The heavy rains from these lows combined with Pakistan's usual summer monsoon rains to trigger Pakistan's most devastating floods in history.


Figure 1. Winds of the jet stream at an altitude of 300 millibars (roughly 30,000 feet high). Left: Average July winds from the period 1968 - 1996 show that a two-branch jet stream typically occurs over Europe and Asia--a northern "polar" jet stream, and a more southerly "subtropical" jet stream. Right: the jet stream pattern in July 2010 was highly unusual, with a very strong polar jet looping far to the north of Russia, then diving southwards towards Pakistan. Image credit: NOAA/ESRL.

What caused this unusual jet stream pattern?
The unusual jet stream pattern that led to the 2010 Russian heat wave and Pakistani floods began during the last week of June, and remained locked in place all of July and for the first half of August. Long-lived "blocking" episodes like this are usually caused by unusual sea surface temperature patterns, according to recent research done using climate models. For example, Feudale and Shukla (2010) found that during the summer of 2003, exceptionally high sea surface temperatures of 4°C (7°F) above average over the Mediterranean Sea, combined with unusually warm SSTs in the northern portion of the North Atlantic Ocean near the Arctic, combined to shift the jet stream to the north over Western Europe and create the heat wave of 2003. I expect that the current SST pattern over the ocean regions surrounding Europe played a key role in shifting the jet stream to create the heat wave of 2010. Note that the SST anomaly pattern is quite different this year compared to 2003, which may be why this year's heat wave hit Eastern Europe, and the 2003 heat wave hit Western Europe. Human-caused climate change also may have played a role; using climate models, Stott et al. (2004) found it very likely (>90% chance) that human-caused climate change has at least doubled the risk of severe heat waves like the great 2003 European heat wave.


Figure 2. A comparison of the departure of sea surface temperature (SST) from average just prior the the start of the great European heat waves of 2003 and 2010. Temperatures in the Mediterranean Sea were up to 4°C above average in 2003, which has been implicated as a major cause of the Western European heat wave of 2003. Image credit: NOAA/NESDIS.

References
Feudale, L., and J. Shukla (2010), "Influence of sea surface temperature on the European heat wave of 2003 summer. Part I: an observational study", Climate Dynamics DOI: 10.1007/s00382-010-0788-0

Stott, P.A., Stone, D.A., and M.R. Allen (2004), "Human contribution to the European heatwave of 2003", Nature 432, 610-614 (2 December 2004) | doi:10.1038/nature03089. (Here is a free version of the paper, presented at a conference.)

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has posted an analysis of the recent extreme weather events, concluding, "the sequence of current events matches IPCC projections of more frequent and more intense extreme weather events due to global warming."

See also my posts, The Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010: 102°F in Moscow and, Over 15,000 likely dead in Russian heat wave; Asian monsoon floods kill hundreds more.

Moscow sees real relief from the Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010
For the first time in more than a month, temperatures at Moscow's Domodedovo airport failed to exceed 30°C (86°F) today. Clouds and thunderstorms blew into the city this morning, keeping the high temperature down to just 29°C (84°F). This breaks a string of 35 straight days when the temperature reached 30°C. At Moscow's official observing site, the Moscow Observatory, this string was 30 days. Moscow's average high temperature for August 13 is 20°C (68°F), so today's temperatures were still well above normal. However, today's cool-down marks the beginning of the end for Russia's great heat wave. The latest forecast for Moscow calls for high temperatures below 30°C for the coming week, and Moscow may not exceed that threshold for the remainder of summer. Long range forecasts from the ECMWF and GFS models continue to suggest that a series of troughs of low pressure will attack the ridge of high pressure anchored over Russia, bringing cooler temperatures just 5°C (8°F) above average to Russia late next week. By ten days from now, the ECMWF model shows a strong trough of low pressure over Moscow, and a end to the Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010. Moscow still has to concern itself with smoke from the wildfires burning southeast of the city; winds are expected to shift early next week and bring the smoke towards the city again. However, the cooler weather should aid fire-fighting efforts, so the smoke problems should not be as bad as last week's nightmare.


Figure 2. Image from NASA's Aqua satellite of smoke from wildfires burning to the southeast of Moscow yesterday, August 12, 2010. Northerly winds were keeping the smoke from blowing over the city. Image credit: NASA.

The tropics are quiet
The remnants of Tropical Depression Five continue to bring heavy rain to portions of Southeast Louisiana today. Up to five inches of rain has fallen in regions near New Orleans. The GFS model predicts that the remains of TD 5 could move off the coast of Mississippi by the middle of next week and regenerate, but none of the other models is making this forecast. Both the GFS and ECMWF models are predicting that a tropical storm will develop off the coast of Africa by next Friday, August 20.

Donations urgently needed in Pakistan
The devastation wrought by the worst flooding in Pakistan's history requires a huge response by the international community. Wunderblogger Dr. Ricky Rood, author of our Climate Change Blog, has a friend working in Pakistan who underscored the desperate situation there:

This is the worst natural disaster in the history of Pakistan in terms of number of people and area affected. Although not as many people have been killed as in the 2005 earthquake, we have already nearly 900,000 displaced persons thus far just in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Crops are destroyed; shops, hotels, and other business have simply been swept away in Swat, which had just this year been cleared of Taliban and was on the way to recovery; and districts closer to Peshawar and parts of Peshawar district are still, or perhaps again after yesterday/today, under water. After the immediate emergency response, it will be years of rebuilding to replace what has been lost and to start to develop again. I know you have the power to control the weather, so if you cold give us a week or two without more rain at least we could keep the helicopters flying and give people a chance to go to their homes, recover what might still be there, set up tents if we can get enough to them, and start to clean up."

She gave the following recommendations for charities that do work in the flood-ravaged zone, and are effective at getting aid to those who need it the most:

Doctors Without Borders

The International Red Cross

MERLIN medical relief charity

The mobile giving service mGive allows one to text the word "SWAT" to 50555. The text will result in a $10 donation to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Pakistan Flood Relief Effort.

She mentioned that it is better to send money to the organizations doing the relief work than to try to organize shipments of goods.

Jeff Masters

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PGI28L will sacrifice itself to the dust storm to allow PGI30L to develop.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23849
1674. Patrap
NEXSAT,Africa,,channel selection lower left
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127803

Homegrown systems have more of a chance right now. Even ex TD05 has a better chance than potential CV systems, at least for the next week to 10 days.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting HurricaneLovr75:
Middle of August and not even an invest in the Atlantic. Whats the chances of it staying this way through the rest of August? Once we get that first CV cane I think it will be on like Donkey Kong!


Almost all models develop a CV system next week, and a potent one too. They also all regenerate TD5.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23849
1670. Gearsts
SAL will kill the waves i think...Dont punch :(
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Middle of August and not even an invest in the Atlantic. Whats the chances of it staying this way through the rest of August? Once we get that first CV cane I think it will be on like Donkey Kong!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Isn't that SAL outbreak due to a dust storm earlier this week? I thought it was supposed to lessen over the next week or so...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
With all of that SAL coming in the picture, any potential system will get sucked dry.
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1666. Patrap
Juan 1985




Hurricane Juan was a hurricane that formed in October 1985 and looped twice near the Louisiana coast, causing torrential flooding for several days. Juan was the costliest hurricane of the 1985 Atlantic hurricane season, and at the time was among the costliest of all historical U.S. hurricanes. Juan was the last of three hurricanes to affect Louisiana during the season, including Danny in August and Elena in early September.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127803
Been lurking here forever, commenting seldom, but that's the first image I've ever posted.
Member Since: August 16, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 102
1664. Patrap
Atlantic SAL 5-Day loop
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127803
Quoting charlestonscnanny:

I see it, wish someone would talk about it.

I see someone did post about it, thanks
Member Since: August 5, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 107
Purple is between 10-15" of rain. I well remember it. Flooding around here was massive.
Member Since: August 16, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 102
1661. Patrap
SAL is a on the increase and IS affecting any development now.


SAL, re-loaded
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127803
Quoting KerryInNOLA:
I've been pointing out in a humorous way for weeks how eerily right the Farmer's Almanc can be, only to be ridiculed by those who buy into 14+ day models such as GFS. Whether The Almanac is in contact with Alien Meteorologists or Vatican Weathermen I don't know, but they are usually right.


I put very very little faith in either forecast from the GFS over 350 hours out (anything over 60 hours out) and almost no faith in prediction for pre-cyclone-genesis... I put about the same amount of faith in the farmers almanac..

Member Since: July 1, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 1683
1659. beell
Quoting Patrap:
Expect to see the Atlantic, crank up...?

Well,,it does every year after Aug 15th Historically.

Am I seer?

U betcha.




Your prediction of an increase in hurricane activity for the end of August going into September is bold. A call for an unprecedented period of heightened activity not seen over the Atlantic since...last year.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting RitaRefugee:
Talk about loopy!



what is the purple color for? Lots of rain?
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
According to the rain chart Juan brought rain to 20 states at least pretty impressive.
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3711
Two big hurricanes coming down the pike would bring a meltdown to this blog lol. With conditions becoming more conducive, "supposedly", there is a greater probability of tropical cyclogenesis occurring. Then again, we've had several jump the gun moments this season.
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1654. Patrap
Juan in 85 had coffins popping out the cemeteries in Lafitte,La.and floating away..

Man it was a Long term Late season event.


Was alot of talk about it being a hybrid/Neutercane that year.

It was really a stubborn system to move on.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127803
Quoting earthlydragonfly:


What do you think the psychic person was using.. Farmers almanac... LOL


haha...could be. :)
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
Talk about loopy!

Member Since: August 16, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 102
1651. earthlydragonfly
3:45 PM GMT on August 14, 2010
Quoting TexasHurricane:


hmmmm ok. Well I guess no need for me to watch the tropics....the farmers almanac doesn't have anything and that physic person said we are good.....hmmmmm


What do you think the psychic person was using.. Farmers almanac... LOL
Member Since: July 1, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 1683
1650. stormwatcherCI
3:44 PM GMT on August 14, 2010
Quoting tkeith:
1595. wunderkidcayman

Which Island you on wunderkid?
I did not see him reply so just FYI he is on Grand Cayman.
Member Since: October 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8317
1648. Patrap
3:44 PM GMT on August 14, 2010
Quoting charlestonscnanny:

I see it, wish someone would talk about it.





Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127803
1647. ElConando
3:44 PM GMT on August 14, 2010
Again I don't think there is enough time for it over water. It still has 30 hours minimum over land and at the most 40 hours over the GOM. Granted it is in very warm waters and it may be able to start ramping up before landfall but I doubt we will see any designation out of this. I could be incorrect in that assumption depending on how well the environment plays out in the lows favor.

Designated or not it will bring rain to an area that does not need it.
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3711
1646. TexasHurricane
3:43 PM GMT on August 14, 2010
Quoting earthlydragonfly:


AUGUST 2010: temperature 82° (avg.); precipitation 1" (1.5" below avg.);
Aug 1-8: Scattered t-storms;
Aug 9-14: Isolated t-storms, hot;
Aug 15-20: A few t-storms, humid;
Aug 21-23: Scattered t-storms;
Aug 24-26: Sunny, cool north; t-storms south; Aug 27-31: A few t-storms, warm, humid.

SEPTEMBER 2010: temperature 75° (1° below avg.); precipitation 4" (0.5" above avg.);
Sep 1-4: Sunny;
Sep 5-8: Sunny, hot;
Sep 9-14: Frequent t-storms; cool north, humid south;
Sep 15-20: T-storms then sunny north; rain and t-storms south, cooler;
Sep 21-30: Showers, then sunny, cool.


hmmmm ok. Well I guess no need for me to watch the tropics....the farmers almanac doesn't have anything and that physic person said we are good.....hmmmmm
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
1645. asgolfr999
3:43 PM GMT on August 14, 2010
Quoting Patrap:



Shhhssshh.


Were keeping dat on the ,er..low fer now.



Hahahahahahahaha dat's funny
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1643. Patrap
3:40 PM GMT on August 14, 2010
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127803
1642. WeatherMum
3:40 PM GMT on August 14, 2010
OK old TD5, move along. My arthritis, sinus', and joints can't handle too much more of this visit. This old meteorologist is hurtin. ::banging head on desk::
Member Since: February 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 118
1641. charlestonscnanny
3:40 PM GMT on August 14, 2010
Quoting unf97:
Looks like a rather nice MCC has developed off the coast of Georgetown, SC. Impressive storm tops shown there on IR imagery.

I see it, wish someone would talk about it.
Member Since: August 5, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 107
1640. WeatherNerdPR
3:39 PM GMT on August 14, 2010
Quoting earthlydragonfly:


Keep it realistic though.... That model is over 350 hours out... So take it with a grain of salt at this point.

I know, but it pretty much shows the level of activity that we could be dealing with by the peak of the season.
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1639. tkeith
3:39 PM GMT on August 14, 2010
I've got a 8:00am tee time in the mornin...gonna have to break out my "cajun golf shoes"

Member Since: November 1, 2004 Posts: 25 Comments: 8924
1638. AustinTXWeather
3:38 PM GMT on August 14, 2010
Quoting StormW:


Good morning StormW! What time do you anticipate having an update today? Heading out but would like to log back in for it to find out more on TD5.
Member Since: September 13, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 241
1635. earthlydragonfly
3:37 PM GMT on August 14, 2010
Quoting TexasHurricane:


yeah, I hope that is wrong.....Can you see what they say for TX? Just curious. Thanks


AUGUST 2010: temperature 82° (avg.); precipitation 1" (1.5" below avg.);
Aug 1-8: Scattered t-storms;
Aug 9-14: Isolated t-storms, hot;
Aug 15-20: A few t-storms, humid;
Aug 21-23: Scattered t-storms;
Aug 24-26: Sunny, cool north; t-storms south; Aug 27-31: A few t-storms, warm, humid.

SEPTEMBER 2010: temperature 75° (1° below avg.); precipitation 4" (0.5" above avg.);
Sep 1-4: Sunny;
Sep 5-8: Sunny, hot;
Sep 9-14: Frequent t-storms; cool north, humid south;
Sep 15-20: T-storms then sunny north; rain and t-storms south, cooler;
Sep 21-30: Showers, then sunny, cool.
Member Since: July 1, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 1683
1634. PensacolaDoug
3:36 PM GMT on August 14, 2010
Here's JB's take on Dewpoint5

SATURDAY 7 AM

TD5 OVER BAMA, WILL REACH GULF BY MONDAY

The circulation center of what was TD 5 is now west of Auburn, Alabama and drifting east. This will turn southeast tonight, south tomorrow, then southwest tomorrow night, re-emerging over the gulf south of Pensacola Monday morning. This will give it around 24 hours to try to get its act together before reaching the Louisiana coast from the east.

I feel this track is a good compromise between the further north option which keeps in on the coast, or the option that would be a huge problem, further south with a west track through Louisiana. This is most certainly the system that was declared dissipated and if it re-develops the way I think it will, it will be classified. Hopefully the Hatch-It people that identify such things will have been watching the weather and understand that. I was pleasantly surprised at their call with Ivan in 2004, realizing that was the original low level core that was Ivan, so perhaps it will be here.

That of course is assuming I am right about this re-generating.


The modeling is much further west in days 10-15 with the African wave systems..the 6z run with a major hurricane sitting just east of Jacksonville, the 00z run off Hatteras.. the point is that part of the season is being sniffed out by the models and should ramp up in the not too distant future.

One more side issue. I the 2007 season, one package of energy produced 2 storms. Gabrielle which hit near Hatteras as a tropical storm, and the southern part of the energy that kept coming west, became Humberto. It is still not out of the realm of possibility, given the overall pattern that while TD 5 comes back into the gulf and heads west.. the front and the overall pattern that is allowing 5 to at least hang around... has low pressure develop in the Bahamas. This would move north, not west. I am going to be watching that area as I posted earlier this week on the chance the pattern could pull a rabbit out of the hat, as I like to call things like that.

thanks for reading, ciao for now *****
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1633. mcluvincane
3:35 PM GMT on August 14, 2010
Quoting tkeith:
I may have to buy a goat for my lawn by the end of next week...


Lmao man. That's good stuff
Member Since: June 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1339
1632. tkeith
3:35 PM GMT on August 14, 2010
Quoting GetReal:


LOL, you may also need to purchase a life vest at Petco for that goat!!!
lmao
Member Since: November 1, 2004 Posts: 25 Comments: 8924
1631. CybrTeddy
3:35 PM GMT on August 14, 2010
Quoting earthlydragonfly:


Keep it realistic though.... That model is over 350 hours out... So take it with a grain of salt at this point.


Correct.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23849
1630. tkeith
3:35 PM GMT on August 14, 2010
Aug 31: Possible hurricane.

SEPTEMBER 2010: temperature 80° (avg.); precipitation 10" (3" above avg.);
Sep 1-2: Possible hurricane;


on my calander...August 31, "Day 1 Florida Vacation"

Hopefully the first models put it on the Panhandle...I oughta be good then :)
Member Since: November 1, 2004 Posts: 25 Comments: 8924
1629. TexasHurricane
3:34 PM GMT on August 14, 2010
Quoting earthlydragonfly:
Morning everyone!!! Afternoon to some....


Now this is creepy.... The old farmers almanac is in line with the GFS 16 day for a landfall hurricane in Florida.... Sure hope this is wrong!!!!

AUGUST 2010: temperature 81° (avg.); precipitation 5.5" (2" below avg.);
Aug 1-6: Scattered t-storms, seasonable;
Aug 7-14: Scattered t-storms, hot;
Aug 15-20: Sunny, seasonable;
Aug 21-26: Scattered t-storms, hot;
Aug 27-30: Scattered t-storms, cooler;
Aug 31: Possible hurricane.

SEPTEMBER 2010: temperature 80° (avg.); precipitation 10" (3" above avg.);
Sep 1-2: Possible hurricane;
Sep 3-5: Sunny, seasonable;
Sep 6-10: Scattered t-storms, cool;
Sep 11-16: Scattered t-storms, warm;
Sep 17-23: Heavy t-storms, seasonable;
Sep 24-27: Sunny, warm;
Sep 28-30: T-storms, warm.




yeah, I hope that is wrong.....Can you see what they say for TX? Just curious. Thanks
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
1628. charlestonscnanny
3:34 PM GMT on August 14, 2010
1627. GetReal
3:33 PM GMT on August 14, 2010
Quoting tkeith:
I may have to buy a goat for my lawn by the end of next week...


LOL, you may also need to purchase a life vest at Petco for that goat!!!
Member Since: July 4, 2005 Posts: 204 Comments: 8806
1626. earthlydragonfly
3:33 PM GMT on August 14, 2010
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

Two hurricanes and a strong wave over Africa, that's one of the scariest models I've seen this month.


Keep it realistic though.... That model is over 350 hours out... So take it with a grain of salt at this point.
Member Since: July 1, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 1683
1625. ElConando
3:32 PM GMT on August 14, 2010
1605. It has 36+ hours over land and only a little over 30 over water to develop. I doubt in that situation it would become anything named however it could be grave nuisance to a fairly drenched LA.
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3711

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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.