Drought continues; Yellowstone fires could become more frequent; 90L set to develop

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:58 PM GMT on July 27, 2011

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Southern Drought Continues

Temperatures continue to soar into triple digits in the Southern Plains this week, and are expected to remain well above average for at least the next month. High air temperatures and low humidity (because of the low soil moisture) will continue to maintain drought conditions in the South unless we see some Gulf-landfalling tropical cyclones—a good remedy for a such an extreme drought.

This year's drought in the South is unprecedented by many definitions. Last year at this time, 0% of the contiguous U.S. was in exceptional drought. Last week, the exceptional drought region covered 11.96%. The area of contiguous U.S. in exceptional drought conditions has never been this high since the Drought Monitor record started in 2000. The highest it had been before June of this year was 7.85% in August of 2002.


Figure 1. Temperature anomaly (difference from average) in degrees Celsius for the period July 1 through July 25 (top) and soil moisture anomaly in millimeters (bottom) on July 25 (from the Climate Prediction Center).

In late June, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated 213 counties in Texas (84% of the state) as primary natural disaster areas. As I mentioned yesterday, the Texas drought and wildfires are one of the nine billion-dollar disasters of 2011 so far. The National Climatic Data Center estimated that this event had cost up to $3 billion as of June 16. This number is surely rising every day that the South doesn't see rain.

New study concludes Yellowstone wildfires could become more frequent

In a study published this week by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers have concluded that global warming could have a serious impact on the severity and frequency of wildfires in the Yellowstone region (an area where the states of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming come together). Historically in this region, fewer than 5% of wildfire occurrences account for 95% of the total area burned. But in a global warming scenario, they found that fire activity could become more severe and more frequent, causing the ecosystem to change dramatically.

Using climate conditions and historical fire data from 1972 to 1999, it was possible to link certain environmental thresholds (temperature, humidity, etc) to past wildfire events. Then by employing the output of various climate models, fire frequency can be forecast well into the future. Figure 2 illustrates the result from one of the climate models they used in the study, and the upward trend of fire activity over the next 100 years. In 1988, a particularly hot and dry year, 36% of the park burned. The study uses this year as a baseline to compare future events.


Figure 2. Figure 2B from the manuscript. Observed burn area (blue line) median of predicted area burned (black dotted line), and ranges (light and dark orange) aggregated over the Yellowstone area defined by the study by Westerling et al. (Source).

What was once a low-probability event could become a high-probability event by mid-century. Fires that have only happened every 100 to 300 years in the past could now be occurring every 30 years in the future. The results of this research has implications for sub-alpine forests across the globe. Warming temperatures and decreasing humidity will lead to more wildfires, and will cost billions of dollars to fight them, if we choose to do so.

Invest 90L

90L has moved west overnight and looks ripe to develop today. While the upper level circulation (500 mb) is very much displaced, the lower level circulation looks strong and coherent through the system's mid-levels (850 and 700 mb). Thunderstorm activity continues to organize, and it appears that a surface circulation is developing. Moisture remains high in the system (around 4.5 g/kg specific humidity) and wind shear should be somewhat favorable as it crosses through the Gulf of Mexico. In terms of track, the statistical models have generally been favoring a Brownsville landfall scenario, but the dynamical models have been inching north over the past day or so. The HWRF is in line with the ECMWF deterministic today, with landfall near Corpus Christi.



The Hurricane Hunters have a mission scheduled for 18Z today (2pm EDT) to investigate whether or not 90L has a closed surface circulation. If it does, given the amount of organized convection and moderate wind speeds (around 34 mph in the latest invest update), the Hurricane Center will probably call this system at least Tropical Depression Four.

If 90L develops this afternoon, I will have another update to look at track and intensity forecasts.

Angela

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Where is this storm predicted to make landfall as of right now?
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testing
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115255
Quoting RitaEvac:
See these are the kind I have issues with....Say a 75mph hurricane is coming, well I'm not gonna put the shudders up right? so it's forecast to come in for example at minimal cane, so everybody brushes it off and goes to bed, then wake up and it's 115mph major, then it's too late to put the shutters up because weather has gotten too bad and too bad to evacuate
after katrina and ike i'd think you gulf dweller know the consequences by now
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Quoting angiest:


They aren't calling for preparations, just to enter the watchful-waiting stage. They will narrow that down soon enough (within hours, I expect).


Thanks. Still curious about steering currents.
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Quoting Levi32:
Outflow boundaries north of the center indicate that dry air is causing some of the thunderstorms to collapse. The falling air hits the ground and spreads out in all directions, creating those cloud boundaries.

enough of the negative,look at that huge band forming on the east side of the storm
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5234
Quoting sarahjola:
what is the movement with don? w, wnw, nw? tia
I'd say it's been generally moving wnw so far today, but it appears that it recently turned to the nw.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
It's been awhile since the U.S saw something.Let's hope the media doesn't go bonckers and start to have the public panicking.Their's no need for that mess.
If I'm not mistaken its been since 2008 that the US last received a direct hit from a hurricane. That's 3 years!
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BEGIN
NHC_ATCF
invest_al042011.invest
FSTDA
R
U
040
010
0000
201107271921
NONE
NOTIFY=ATRP
END
FOUR, AL, L, , , , , 04, 2011, TD, S, 2011072212, 9999999999, , , , , , WARNING, 4, AL042011
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AL, 04, 2011072112, , BEST, 0, 125N, 480W, 20, 1012, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0, 1014, 225, 40, 0, 0,
AL, 04, 2011072118, , BEST, 0, 130N, 495W, 20, 1012, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0, 1014, 225, 40, 0, 0,
AL, 04, 2011072200, , BEST, 0, 133N, 511W, 20, 1012, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0, 1014, 225, 40, 0, 0,
AL, 04, 2011072206, , BEST, 0, 136N, 528W, 20, 1012, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0, 1014, 225, 40, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, INVEST, S,
AL, 04, 2011072212, , BEST, 0, 138N, 546W, 20, 1012, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0, 1015, 175, 40, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, INVEST, S,
AL, 04, 2011072218, , BEST, 0, 141N, 564W, 20, 1012, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0, 1015, 175, 40, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, INVEST, S,
AL, 04, 2011072300, , BEST, 0, 144N, 582W, 25, 1012, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0, 1014, 175, 40, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, INVEST, S,
AL, 04, 2011072306, , BEST, 0, 148N, 599W, 25, 1012, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0, 1015, 175, 40, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, INVEST, S,
AL, 04, 2011072312, , BEST, 0, 153N, 618W, 25, 1013, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0, 1014, 90, 75, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, INVEST, S,
AL, 04, 2011072318, , BEST, 0, 157N, 639W, 25, 1014, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0, 1015, 100, 90, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, INVEST, S,
AL, 04, 2011072400, , BEST, 0, 161N, 662W, 25, 1014, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
AL, 04, 2011072406, , BEST, 0, 168N, 680W, 25, 1013, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
AL, 04, 2011072412, , BEST, 0, 174N, 701W, 25, 1013, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
AL, 04, 2011072418, , BEST, 0, 178N, 721W, 25, 1012, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
AL, 04, 2011072500, , BEST, 0, 181N, 738W, 25, 1012, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
AL, 04, 2011072506, , BEST, 0, 184N, 755W, 25, 1012, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
AL, 04, 2011072512, , BEST, 0, 186N, 770W, 25, 1012, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
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AL, 04, 2011072600, , BEST, 0, 191N, 798W, 25, 1011, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0, 1013, 200, 90, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, INVEST, S,
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AL, 04, 2011072618, , BEST, 0, 208N, 834W, 25, 1010, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0, 1011, 110, 60, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, INVEST, M,
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AL, 04, 2011072712, , BEST, 0, 218N, 863W, 30, 1008, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0, 1011, 100, 30, 40, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, INVEST, M,
AL, 04, 2011072718, , BEST, 0, 223N, 870W, 30, 1004, TD, 34, NEQ, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1011, 110, 25, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, FOUR, M,
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115255
imcalling 45 mph sustained 55 mph gustsat 4 oclock
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1006.2mb now.
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Quoting Levi32:
Outflow boundaries north of the center indicate that dry air is causing some of the thunderstorms to collapse. The falling air hits the ground and spreads out in all directions, creating those cloud boundaries.

As long as only the thunderstorms in the convective bands collapse, the main structure should be fine and continue to develop.
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Quoting weatherganny:


Yes you are right...are you in south east texas?


Yes
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9630
1463. angiest
Quoting washingtonian115:
It's been awhile since the U.S saw something.Let's hope the media doesn't go bonckers and start to have the public panicking.Their's no need for that mess.


The talk on Houston news that I have seen and heard is somewhat hopeful. We need the rain too much, and so long as it doesn't get stronger than a tropical storm, I doubt there will be much disaster hype, at least locally.
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wish they'd get a floater on the cape verde system looks big and there is some turning to it wnw tragetory
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Do they have time to get all this info from obs and dropsondes in the computers for the 00 models runs?
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5234
SSD has it listed as 04
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1459. Patrap
Quoting RitaEvac:
See these are the kind I have issues with....Say a 75mph hurricane is coming, well I'm not gonna put the shudders up right? so it's forecast to come in for example at minimal cane, so everybody brushes it off and goes to bed, then wake up and it's 115mph major, then it's too late to put the shutters up because weather has gotten too bad and too bad to evacuate



Leave,, evac now and enjoy at worst a few days inconvenience at best, the other isnt worth the risk.

It gets real nasty real quick once the winds and rains and surge come and go.

In any Emg,follow your Local Emg mgt instructions,esp if a Evac is ordered.
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1458. Levi32
Quoting j2008:

Looks like a TS even with that dry air.


It's definitely a TS, but there are things worth pointing out that may keep it a TS for quite some time.
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1457. JLPR2
Hmm... three continuous invests have developed. Not bad at all 2011.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
It's been awhile since the U.S saw something.Let's hope the media doesn't go bonckers and start to have the public panicking.Their's no need for that mess.


If it keeps people safe, go for it.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
1454. Levi32
Quoting alfabob:

If a high builds in from the east would that aid in development except for the dry air part?


Not particularly. There are good and bad things about tracking either farther north or farther south. Either way, it will still feel the negative effects of the big central U.S. high. Those may lessen a little bit as TD 4 keeps trying to strengthen, though, and that's why some more intensification is definitely possible.
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1453. j2008
Anything new from the HH??
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1452. angiest
Quoting tennisgirl08:
Hi everyone! Wouldn't be surprised if NHC upgrades straight to TS Don. I do have a question, though. I am a bit confused that latest advisory mentioned residents in Western and Central Gulf areas need to be aware. Is it possible models could stretch even more northward?? What are the driving steering currents right now? Thanks in advance.


They aren't calling for preparations, just to enter the watchful-waiting stage. They will narrow that down soon enough (within hours, I expect).
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Quoting RitaEvac:
See these are the kind I have issues with....Say a 75mph hurricane is coming, well I'm not gonna put the shudders up right? so it's forecast to come in for example at minimal cane, so everybody brushes it off and goes to bed, then wake up and it's 115mph major, then it's too late to put the shutters up because weather has gotten too bad and too bad to evacuate


Yes you are right...are you in south east texas?
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Quoting NotCircumventing:
Most recent product from CIMMS did show weakening high pressure, not sure if that trend continues or not but steering suggests a significant northerly tug



then at the next lvl:



The trough is doing a number on the Cont. High however, the Atl. ridge is building in underneath it from the east which will push TD04 westward. A path WNW to NWard to the central Texas coast seems likely at this point.
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1448. j2008
Quoting Levi32:
Outflow boundaries north of the center indicate that dry air is causing some of the thunderstorms to collapse. The falling air hits the ground and spreads out in all directions, creating those cloud boundaries.


Looks like a TS even with that dry air.
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what is the movement with don? w, wnw, nw? tia
Member Since: September 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1294
It's been awhile since the U.S saw something.Let's hope the media doesn't go bonckers and start to have the public panicking.Their's no need for that mess.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
See these are the kind I have issues with....Say a 75mph hurricane is coming, well I'm not gonna put the shudders up right? so it's forecast to come in for example at minimal cane, so everybody brushes it off and goes to bed, then wake up and it's 115mph major, then it's too late to put the shutters up because weather has gotten too bad and too bad to evacuate
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9630
Hi everyone! Wouldn't be surprised if NHC upgrades straight to TS Don. I do have a question, though. I am a bit confused that latest advisory mentioned residents in Western and Central Gulf areas need to be aware. Is it possible models could stretch even more northward?? What are the driving steering currents right now? Thanks in advance.
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1440. Patrap
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1439. Gorty
I am finally back. July was active. This will be our 4th named storm in this month.

We need to watch out with these small systems (its still small right?) when they enter the gulf, they can undergo RI. look at Marco for example. Heck, even some cyclones which formed close to shore RI.
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Quoting deepee:


and the Bahia Mar hotel is STILL being rebuilt from that storm.
I think I saw that on T.V about 2 years ago when the media was talking about the rebuilding going on after the 2008 hurricane season.
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Atlantic Floater 1
04L
Visible Image - Java - Flash
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
It is really sad how with the first serious threat to the CONUS... and the trolls come out of the woodwork. I've never quite figured out what the attraction is at trolling...

On another note... based on SFMR obs, looks like TS Don at 5. Lets hope he stays weak, and gives TX some solid rain.
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1434. Levi32
Outflow boundaries north of the center indicate that dry air is causing some of the thunderstorms to collapse. The falling air hits the ground and spreads out in all directions, creating those cloud boundaries.

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Quoting Ameister12:

TD 4/Don is born.
Don is born 50 years ago.
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Quoting mamakins:

\
Cool!!! So what do you think? If 90L heads this way, about how much time would we have to prepare. After the Rita evacuation fiasco, I refuse to even consider leaving town again. I will "hunker down" :)
Good luck to you, mama. I am not ashamed to say that I ran from all I encountered, from Georges and Danny in 97 to Katrina in 05.
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As soon as TD 4 gets its entire wind field away from the Yucatan it'll wrap up more quickly.
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Quoting j2008:

Yea we have to get the word out, the gulf is way to warm imo we could have rapid intensifacation as the worst case senario.

doubt it shear will be favorable but not enough for rapid deepining strongest i see is a cat 1
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Quoting reedzone:
Center no longer exposed as 90L/Don enters favorable conditions in the GOM.



Shear map shows a spot of light wind shear (5-10 knots) ahead of the storm.. The heavy wind shear that was shearing it earlier today is now east of the storm.




There is wind high wind shear near the Texas coastline though, but things do change.

Don't call it 90L... Call it TD#4, or Don.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
90L went from bust too a name storm lol

Goes to show how fast things can change in the tropics.
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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.