Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:45 PM GMT on July 25, 2011
Last week's U.S. heat wave has finally subsided, and most of the Northeast will see some cool highs in the 70s today. Unfortunately, the Midwest, and mid-Atlantic will continue to see high temperatures in the 90s for the rest of this week, and the southern Plains will be forced to continue to endure triple-digits.
According to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), 2,100 daily high maximum temperature records have been set so far in July 2011, and 51% of those were set last week. 4,734 daily high minimum temperature records have been set so far this month, and 55% of those were set last week. Here's a breakdown of last week's records for the period July 18 through July 24:
• 1,076 warmest maximum temperature for the date
• 90 warmest maximum temperature for the month of July
• 56 warmest maximum temperature of all time
• 2,595 warmest minimum temperature for the date
• 207 warmest minimum temperature for the month of July
• 123 warmest minimum temperature of all time
The number of warm minimum temperatures is especially disturbing, as these tend to have more of an impact on health than the high maximums. When the temperature remains high at night, it prevents the body from being able to recover from the day's heat. According to NOAA, from July 1 through July 19, there were 22 heat-related deaths in the United States. Reuters is reporting that 34 deaths resulted from this heat wave. In an average year, heat remains the number one weather-related killer in this country. In some ways, the overnight low temperatures are the best way to quantify a heat wave, possibly even better than the heat index.
Figure 1. Map of daily high maximum temperature records for the period July 1 through July 25 from NCDC. Red circles without an X denote a broken record; red circles with an X denote a tied record.
The wave formerly known as Invest 90L
The wave formerly known as Invest 90L is moving slowly west through the Caribbean near Jamaica. A new burst of convection started this morning, which will undoubtedly produce some heavy rain over southern Cuba and Jamaica. While low-level circulation has remained about the same since late last week, the wave has become top-heavy with increased circulation at higher levels (700-500mb). None of the models (GFS, ECMWF, CMC, NGPS, UKMET) are developing this wave as tracks into the Gulf of Mexico, and they're all in agreement that the path will be toward far southern Texas or northern Mexico, except for the ECMWF deterministic run, which hints that it will take a turn toward the northern Gulf. However, this model hasn't shown actual development from the wave since Tuesday or Wednesday of last week.
NHC has dropped this invest as of Saturday afternoon, but it remains on their radar. They're giving the wave a 0% chance to form over the next 48 hours. Given the recent uptick in mid-level circulation, I'd imagine they're still a little concerned about the potential for this wave to fire-up again once it's in the Gulf, and it will surely be of concern for Cuba as it tracks westward. However, given the lack of model support for almost 7 days in a row now, I'd say this wave has seen its glory come and go.
Figure 2. Visible tropical Atlantic satellite captured at 11:14am EDT on Monday.
Other North Atlantic waves
There are a couple other waves to speak of that have left the coast of Africa in the past few days, one located near 40W and the other closer to Africa, around 30W, which is tangled up in the monsoon trough. The former is expected to take a southerly track, skirting northern South America, and possibly into the Bay of Campeche. Given this track, none of the models are suggesting it will develop. However, tropical cyclones that spin up in the Bay of Campeche generally have a short forecast lead time, so it's something to watch. The latter wave could take a slightly more northern track through the Caribbean islands, and a couple of the models seem to favor this wave for development at the end of their runs.
Tropical wave activity has been lacking so far this season, but climatologically we should see an increase in African easterly waves in August and September.
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