Large fire threatens Los Alamos nuclear lab; 95L headed for Mexico

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:04 PM GMT on June 28, 2011

Share this Blog
8
+

The dangerous Los Conchas wildfire has burned to a spot one mile southwest of Los Alamos, New Mexico, forcing the nuclear laboratory there to close, and the evacuation of 8,000 people. The fire was fanned yesterday by winds that reached sustained speeds of 21 mph, gusting to 30 mph, along with temperatures in the low 80s and humidities as low as 14%. The fire was 0% contained as of Monday night, and had consumed 176 square miles. Today, winds will be out of the south at 10 - 20 mph, which will tend to force the fire towards the laboratory. According to the NOAA Storm Prediction Center, these will not be critical fire conditions, and critical fire conditions are not expected to return to the area until Wednesday or Thursday. Smoke from the fire has blown over 1,000 miles downwind, and is causing air pollution problems in downwind regions of New Mexico.



Figure 1. New Mexico's Los Conchas fire (marked by the cluster of red squares on the left) sends smoke across a large swath of southern Kansas in this image taken at 1:40pm EDT June 27, 2011. Image credit: NASA.

Tropical disturbance 95L headed towards Mexico
Heavy thunderstorm activity is increasing over the Gulf of Mexico's Bay of Campeche due to a tropical wave (Invest 95L), moving west-northwest at 5 - 10 mph towards the coast of Northeast Mexico. Satellite loops show that the thunderstorms are currently poorly organized, and there is no sign of a surface circulation. Mexican radar out of Alvarado also shows little organization and no spiral banding. Wind shear has fallen by 5 knots to 20 - 25 knots over the past day, and is predicted to continue to fall over the next two days. This should allow 95L to continue to organize, and the Hurricane Hunters are scheduled to visit the storm Wednesday afternoon to see if a tropical depression is forming. Several reliable computer models are predicting that 95L could become a tropical depression or weak tropical storm before making landfall. Landfall will probably occur on Mexico's Bay of Campeche coast several hundred miles south of the Texas border on Wednesday night. NHC is giving the system a 50% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Thursday. Development will be hindered by a large region of dry air to the west, associated with the great 2011 Texas-Mexico drought. However, the topography surrounding the Bay of Campeche tends to boost counter-clockwise air flow, enabling systems there to spin up faster than any other portion of the Atlantic.

There is a strong ridge of high pressure over the Gulf, which should act to keep 95L moving west-northwest or west, with impacts limited to Mexico and perhaps extreme South Texas. Rainfall amounts of 1 - 2 inches are possible over Brownsville, Texas on Wednesday. The main danger from the storm for Mexico is likely to be heavy rains of 4 - 8 inches, but the rain is likely to be more a blessing than a danger. Mexico is experiencing its worst drought in 70 years over 40% of the country, and wild fires have burned 500,000 acres in northern regions near the U.S. border.


Figure 2. Morning satellite image of Invest 95L.

All-time dry air record set at Las Vegas
On Monday, Las Vegas, Nevada reported its driest air in recorded history, when the temperature hit 107° and the dewpoint reached -22° at 4:32pm MDT. This gave the city a dewpoint depression of 129 degrees, and a relative humidity of just 0.6%. The dew point depression is defined as the difference between the air temperature and the dew point temperature. The previous all-time record dew point depression for Las Vegas was 120 degrees set on July 2nd 2007. Not surprisingly, this record dry air is creating dangerous fire conditions, and much of the Southwest U.S. including Las Vegas is under a Red Flag Warning for critical fire conditions today.

Jeff Masters

Smoky Sunset (gilg72)
Very smoky sunset from 49,000 Acre fire near Los Alamos NM. Los Alamos now evacuated.
Smoky Sunset
Desert Heat (demmies)
The temperature ended up being 114 degrees in Sun City.
Desert Heat

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 1877 - 1827

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38Blog Index

1876. TropicalAnalystwx13
1:49 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Come on over to the NEW BLOG
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31608
1875. bohonkweatherman
1:48 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Mexico getting lots of rain may just make it less hot in Texas? It sure cannot hurt.
Member Since: July 5, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1348
1874. hydrus
1:47 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Quoting bohonkweatherman:
If one part of Texas will get some drought relief I feel confident it will be South Texas in the next 2 months. I want a system to come thru Texas and then move West thru west Texas and New Mexico to Arizona and give them relief. That would be awesome.
I was hoping this trough would pick up some of the moisture from Arlene and sling it in to Texas...
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20569
1872. hurricane23
1:46 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Quoting ProgressivePulse:
Arlene Vortex (6/29 12:30:00Z): MSLP: 1000mb (extrap); Inbound Flt. Lvl. Wind (Item F.): 46kts (~52.9mph); Max Flt. Wind (from Remarks): 46kts (~52.9mph)

Looks like we'll see 50-55mph Arlene @ 10am

LV center quoted @ 24NM


Sorry if posted already.

My bad, that's flight level

D. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind: 35kts (~ 40.3mph)

Looks like we'll see 40-45mph Arlene @ 10am


Matches well with recent advisories. Surface winds via SFMR were 45mph so maybe some slight strenghing. Main impact will be the flooding rains.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13640
1871. bohonkweatherman
1:46 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Quoting shadoclown45:
I say they take water from the rivers that have been above average and dump it on the drought stricken areas who's with me?
I am with you, I would have done this on day one if it were possible.
Member Since: July 5, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1348
1870. Jax82
1:45 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Mexico's gonna get a lot of rain.

Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 1261
1869. shadoclown45
1:44 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Why does it feel like everyone put me on ignore??
Member Since: July 27, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 108
1868. bohonkweatherman
1:43 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Quoting skkippboo:


The RGV is still part of Texas, we might get some rain.
If one part of Texas will get some drought relief I feel confident it will be South Texas in the next 2 months. I want a system to come thru Texas and then move West thru west Texas and New Mexico to Arizona and give them relief. That would be awesome.
Member Since: July 5, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1348
1867. hydrus
1:42 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Quoting bohonkweatherman:
I know I did not mean to bite your head off but it does get frustrating when for months we have been going thru so close but yet so far. I hate droughts but I hate floods also but I have seem my share of both of them in Texas, not too much in the middle, just one extreme to another.
I do know how you feel...Trust me..I have been through my share of natural disasters, and it is at the very least frustrating.. To put it simply, it can be downright horrific.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20569
1865. ProgressivePulse
1:39 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Arlene Vortex (6/29 12:30:00Z): MSLP: 1000mb (extrap); Inbound Flt. Lvl. Wind (Item F.): 46kts (~52.9mph); Max Flt. Wind (from Remarks): 46kts (~52.9mph)

Looks like we'll see 50-55mph Arlene @ 10am

LV center quoted @ 24NM


Sorry if posted already.

My bad, that's flight level

D. Estimated (by SFMR or visually) Maximum Surface Wind: 35kts (~ 40.3mph)

Looks like we'll see 40-45mph Arlene @ 10am
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5060
1864. bohonkweatherman
1:38 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Quoting hydrus:
Lol..I just posted it to show you whats out there. I hope you folks get rain too, believe me..:)
I know I did not mean to bite your head off but it does get frustrating when for months we have been going thru so close but yet so far. I hate droughts but I hate floods also but I have seem my share of both of them in Texas, not too much in the middle, just one extreme to another.
Member Since: July 5, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1348
1863. hydrus
1:38 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20569
1862. muddertracker
1:35 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
skip..I'm pulling for you guys, too! I hope yall get something :)
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 2337
1860. skkippboo
1:33 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Quoting muddertracker:
I can't believe Texas isn't going to get squat out of Arlene. Very frustrating.


The RGV is still part of Texas, we might get some rain.
Member Since: April 19, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 132
1859. hydrus
1:32 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Quoting bohonkweatherman:
What does that map show? Near normal rainfall totals for July and August in Texas is next to nothing. Here we average less than 1 inch of rain in July and August but usually get about quarter of an inch total each month unless a tropical system moves thru center of the state.
Lol..I just posted it to show you whats out there. I hope you folks get rain too, believe me..:)
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20569
1858. bohonkweatherman
1:32 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
I agree, Levi does an outstanding job and there are several others on here that are just great as far as info and knowledge go.
Member Since: July 5, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1348
1857. shadoclown45
1:31 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
I say they take water from the rivers that have been above average and dump it on the drought stricken areas who's with me?
Member Since: July 27, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 108
1856. MahFL
1:31 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Those wishing for a stall should stop wishing, its forcast to make land fall in 24 hours.
Member Since: June 9, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 3388
1855. bohonkweatherman
1:29 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Quoting hydrus:
What does that map show? Near normal rainfall totals for July and August in Texas is next to nothing. Here we average less than 1 inch of rain in July and August but usually get about quarter of an inch total each month unless a tropical system moves thru center of the state.
Member Since: July 5, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1348
1854. EYEStoSEA
1:29 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
1853. hydrus
1:28 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20569
1852. hydrus
1:25 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Quoting bohonkweatherman:
Living here I agree with you but High Pressure is still in control in most of this state and most likely will control it thru August which is normal, hopefully Texas will get some breaks. Only way Texas gets rain during the months of July or August is by something tropical. At least Arlene will bring south Texas a little rain and Mexico quite a bit of rain. Future models show a chance of rain increasing for southeast Texas?
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20569
1851. kmanislander
1:25 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
It looks like the quote function is down. Anyone else having issues with the site ?.

Off to work now but will be back later.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15798
1850. hurricanejunky
1:24 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Quoting elninosucks:
Can anyone answer my question please. after arlene will we see any tropical mischeif in 3-12 days based on model data guys?


Stay in tune with Levi32's tropical tidbit, he usually does a good job of looking ahead to further "mischief".
Member Since: August 28, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 2895
1849. hydrus
1:24 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Quoting belizeit:
I wonder where all the people are that developed the cloud in the eatern pacific yesterday
Having a crow omlette.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20569
1848. muddertracker
1:23 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
I can't believe Texas isn't going to get squat out of Arlene. Very frustrating.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 2337
1847. hydrus
1:22 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20569
1846. bohonkweatherman
1:22 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Quoting RitaEvac:
Damn, I wish ol Arlene was 250 miles north of it's location, would throw that sucker of rain deep in the heart of TX. Missed opportunity
Living here I agree with you but High Pressure is still in control in most of this state and most likely will control it thru August which is normal, hopefully Texas will get some breaks. Only way Texas gets rain during the months of July or August is by something tropical. At least Arlene will bring south Texas a little rain and Mexico quite a bit of rain. Future models show a chance of rain increasing for southeast Texas?
Member Since: July 5, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1348
1845. shadoclown45
1:21 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
http://www.weather.com/weather/map/USTX0327?mapde st=US_Precip._Forecast:SC

I dont think brownsville north will get 1''-3'' of rain all of the steady convection looks like it is going to be going south of Brownsville... Unless they are anticipating that the storm is going to get bigger.
Member Since: July 27, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 108
1844. RitaEvac
1:21 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
The National Weather Service in Brownsville has issued a coastal
Flood Watch... which is in effect from this evening through Friday
morning.

* Timing... strong east to northeast winds offshore the Lower Texas
coast late this afternoon into tonight will begin to push large Gulf
swells up onto the beaches of deep south Texas late tonight into
Thursday.

* Impacts... this large swell will likely produce rough
surf... dangerous rip currents... tidal overflow... and some
flooding along area beaches late tonight into Thursday. Some beach
erosion may also occur as the waves push further onto the area
beaches.
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
1843. belizeit
1:19 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
I wonder where all the people are that developed the cloud in the eatern pacific yesterday
Member Since: January 10, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 918
1842. RitaEvac
1:18 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
1841. hydrus
1:18 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20569
1840. TaylorSelseth
1:16 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Looks like Arlene is building a CDO. She can easily reach Cat1 if she stalls.
Member Since: August 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 324
1839. Skyepony (Mod)
1:16 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
41 knots (~ 47.1 mph) surface winds on the way out..
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37498
1838. bigwes6844
1:15 PM GMT on June 29, 2011

getting interesting!!
Member Since: July 25, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2535
1836. hydrus
1:15 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20569
1835. Skyepony (Mod)
1:12 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Quoting elninosucks:
Can anyone answer my question please. after arlene will we see any tropical mischeif in 3-12 days based on model data guys?


MJO models very much favor it.

I'm still wundering if we will see something from that bit of energy from Arlene that came over FL plus yesterday's SE states storm pull something together off the SE coast over the next few days.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37498
1834. hydrus
1:10 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Quoting sammywammybamy:


Relax.

Mexico has had its worst drought in 70 years....

I Think Texas and Florida can go a few more weeks with out rain...

You have to remember that mexico is a poor country... and there is alot of corruption....

The average person there makes half of the average american salary.

Less than half.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20569
1833. hydrus
1:09 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Quoting elninosucks:
Can anyone answer my question please. after arlene will we see any tropical mischeif in 3-12 days based on model data guys?
Check out the #1829 link.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20569
1831. Skyepony (Mod)
1:09 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Quoting kmanislander:


1000 mbs was my estimate of the pressure. By noon the winds should have responded with an appreciable increase.


I had pretty much pegged it not long after recon took off 3hrs ago. Looks like it's enjoying the warm patch of water & the natural inclination to spin form the land. I had only given it an outside chance at 'cane statues before landfall. Wouldn't be at all surprised if it pulled it off now.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37498
1830. Col15thTex
1:08 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
1817. nrtiwlnvragn

Thanks nrtiwlnvragn, will do.
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 36
1829. hydrus
1:08 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
Quoting RitaEvac:
Damn, I wish ol Arlene was 250 miles north of it's location, would throw that sucker of rain deep in the heart of TX. Missed opportunity
If you have time, check this out...Link
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20569
1828. RitaEvac
1:07 PM GMT on June 29, 2011
75mph cane is looking more likely by landfall.
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628

Viewing: 1877 - 1827

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38Blog Index

Top of Page

About

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