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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1125. xcool


stalled over new orleans..




78hrs
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Well, I'm out for the night. It's been a long day and my bower of rest is calling me...

Night, all.

Thanks for participating in the poll, BTW. I'll post results in the a.m.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22305
I haven't been saying much about the ex-TD5, but I'm just waiting to see what, if anything, of this forecast pans out. I do know there've been some weird tracks and reformations over the Nrn GoM over the years, but this just seems.... speculative... to me. So far.

But we shall see.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22305
AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HOUSTON/GALVESTON TX
803 PM CDT FRI AUG 13 2010

.UPDATE...

AFTERNOON FORECAST LOOKS TO BE IN GREAT SHAPE AND WILL NOT MAKE
ANY CHANGES. HIGH PW ENVIRONMENT WILL PERSIST AND SEABREEZE WILL
ALLOW FOR ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS.
SUBSIDENCE FROM UPPER LEVEL RIDGE HOWEVER WILL KEEP AREAL COVERAGE
FAIRLY LOW. 18Z GFS HAS GONE BACK TO THE INTERESTING MEANDERING
LOOP PROGNOSIS FOR TD 5 REMNANTS AND CONSENSUS BETWEEN FORECASTERS
AT THIS TIME FOR THIS SYSTEM SEEMS TO BE ECWMF SOLUTION. WILL KEEP
AN EYE OUT FOR POSSIBLE INCREASED RAIN CHANCES NEXT WEEK IF
MOISTURE FROM THIS SYSTEM MAKES ITS WAY IN THIS DIRECTION.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1121. xcool
homelesswanderer .HEY ;)
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Evening all. xcool, ya beat me to the Lake Charles thing. Lol. My local SE TX met says its coming here but he's not buying development.

The upper-level low associated with the remnants of TD 5 will move across our area Wednesday bringing stormy weather conditions. Rain chances Wednesday will be near a sixty percent coverage with breezy winds and highs only in the middle-eighties.

Abundant moisture will stick around Thursday and Friday keeping scattered showers and thunderstorms in the forecast. Rain chances will be around forty percent both days with highs in the lower-nineties.
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11:56 p.m. edt.... last chance for the Legends of the WunderBlog!

Going, going.....
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22305
1118. xcool







BETTER IMAGES
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
1116. xcool
;;
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
1115. xcool
From Lake Charles NWS:

HEADING INTO NEXT WEEK...THE GFS AND ECMWF...THEIR RESPECTIVE
ENSEMBLE MEANS...AND THE UKMET...CONTINUE TO BE IN GENERALLY GOOD AGREEMENT WITH RETROGRADING THE REMNANTS OF TD 5 BACK INTO THE
NORTH CENTRAL GULF...AND THEN WESTWARD INTO SE TX/SW LA. THERE ARE
SOME TIMING/TRACK/STRENGTH DIFFERENCES WITH ANY SFC REFLECTION
THAT RESULTS...WITH CONSENSUS TODAY SHOWING A WEAK SFC LOW SKIRTING ALONG OR JUST OFF THE LOUISIANA COAST ON TUESDAY AND ENTERING THE UPPER TX COAST ON WEDNESDAY. POPS WERE INCREASED AND TEMPERATURES LOWERED TUE-THU IN ANTICIPATION OF THE ADDITIONAL MOISTURE THIS SYSTEM WILL PUMP INTO THE AREA. TRENDS WILL CONTINUE TO BE MONITORED FOR ANYTHING MORE SIGNIFICANT.

Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
1114. xcool
:0
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting TropicalNonsense:
I HAVE NEVER SEEN THE TROPICS SO QUIET. WOW!!!

the calendar says middle August but the entire atlantic
basin is wiped clean.


I have. Lots of times.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 582 Comments: 20773
1112. JLPR2
Quoting TropicalNonsense:
I HAVE NEVER SEEN THE TROPICS SO QUIET. WOW!!!

the calendar says middle August but the entire atlantic
basin is wiped clean.


As of August 13 the 1998 hurricane season had one named storm and 98 is, I think, one of the closest analog years for 2010.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8732
1110. xcool




Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
I HAVE NEVER SEEN THE TROPICS SO QUIET. WOW!!!

the calendar says middle August but the entire atlantic
basin is wiped clean.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1108. xcool


Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
1107. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1106. xcool


Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
1105. leu2500
The 1913 Great Lakes storm appears to have been worse. Hurricane force winds, cyclonic, low pressure of 974 millibars in Buffalo.
Link
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1104. xcool
Could TD#5 hit Louisiana again?


img src="" alt="" />

With remnants of tropical depression 5 inland, computer models have indicated that it may loop back around into the Gulf by Monday and near Louisiana by Tuesday. Our rain chances will continue high Monday & Tuesday.

Elsewhere, the tropics are quiet.

BY WWLTV.COM

Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
1102. robj144
Quoting TampaFLUSA:
We are more likely to see another Great Lakes hurricane like 96...lol
Link


Cool...
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1101. robj144
Quoting stormpetrol:

Just want to I respect your aprroach, strictly fact based and not opinionated without any insults to one's integrity, honesty or their personal opinion, a breath of fresh air and an example to many here on the blog!! Have a goodnight, take care and to all keep safe, the season is far from over!


Thanks. You too...
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1100. robj144
Quoting BahaHurican:
Both, really. The eye definitely passed overy Cozumel, but that whole area of the coast was under Wilma for 2 days... lucky thing Wilma had slacked off from cat 5 winds from that point. I think also because that part of the coast had already gotten hit by Emily [and Stan? can't recall] a lot of the more precarious structures had already been impacted. There was a LOT of damage, there, from what I recall. Shut down Cancun for a good while.


Thanks for the info.
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1099. xcool
AL, 05, 2010081400, , BEST, 0, 322N, 870W, 20, 1008, LO
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
1098. bappit
CIMSS PREDICT water vapor image for ex-TD 05 with model tracks.

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Quoting JLPR2:


Well both can kill you so I dont know... :\


Or better yet...Whereever Charley goes, Jason is sure to follow wahahaha.
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1095. JLPR2
Quoting Ron5244:
So what's more scary?

Charley


or



Well both can kill you so I dont know... :\
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8732
Just a reminder, folks; one more hour to post your picks on the 5 Legends of the Wunderblog.... click on my handle to go to my blog and put in your choices and to read other pple's comments...
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22305
Good night everyone!

Blog Update

Tropics Quiet; Possible Cape Verde-Type Development Next Week
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
This reactionary La Nina is a Mokiki/Classic hybrid. The exact counterpart to what our past El Nino was!!!

It will have to take until December-March to become a truly Traditional La Nina!
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Had to reboot.

It wasn't you, obviously, but maybe somebody remembers the 5->TX met post, which actually would be the best outcome, if it could stay south of the other GOM states which are already soaked.

TX, otoh. could more easily absorb the rain.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Monday/Tuesday is my thinking.


ok, thanks.
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Joe Bastardi has a good video forecast for ex TD5 on Accuweather. He feels that this system will make its way back into the GOM & threaten NO as a TS or Hurricane. Worse case scenario is that is goes further south into the GOM & hits TX.
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Well whatever comes from that African Wave.... wind shear is low is the order of 5-10 knots everywhere in the MDR....

LINK
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Quoting HurricaneGeek:
Good Evening people....
Are we looking at a TUESDAY emergence for the much talked about African Wave?

thanks.
Monday/Tuesday is my thinking.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting robj144:


Yes, it was a powerful storm. By the way I meant to say Ivan, not Ike in my last post.

Just want to I respect your aprroach, strictly fact based and not opinionated without any insults to one's integrity, honesty or their personal opinion, a breath of fresh air and an example to many here on the blog!! Have a goodnight, take care and to all keep safe, the season is far from over!
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1079 MiamiHurricanes09.....

Is that the Vorticity of the African Wave in the bottom Right corner there?
Looks strong.
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Good Evening people....
Are we looking at a TUESDAY emergence for the much talked about African Wave?

thanks.
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Surface observations suggest that the LLC of what once was 05L has dissipated. The MLC appears to be over the extreme western part of the Florida panhandle according to CIMSS vorticity product, however satellite imagery would suggest that it is over NE Louisiana.



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Quoting robj144:


What about when Wilma sat over Cancun for like two days as a cat 4 or so... that's nuts too.

Edit: Was it Cazumel or Cancun?
Both, really. The eye definitely passed overy Cozumel, but that whole area of the coast was under Wilma for 2 days... lucky thing Wilma had slacked off from cat 5 winds from that point. I think also because that part of the coast had already gotten hit by Emily [and Stan? can't recall] a lot of the more precarious structures had already been impacted. There was a LOT of damage, there, from what I recall. Shut down Cancun for a good while.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22305
Link
This might give a hint of the confusion and possible cover up!
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a very reliable model FOX8 in New Orleans uses shows the Low over Alabama exiting back into the GOM around Panama City and moving westward into SE LA as Tropical Cyclone on Tuesday...

Interesting... and I know the GFS was hinting at that happening as well...
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We are more likely to see another Great Lakes hurricane like 96...lol
Link
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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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