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

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

Share this Blog
4
+

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

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: 1376 - 1326

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 | 38 | 39 | 40Blog Index

1376. angiest
Quoting MrstormX:


Either way, stay safe.


We are inland, so I have no surge concern. Our problem with this storm is most likely to be rain (in a drought!). I don't expect it to be strong enough for inland winds to be a problem. Still, thanks for the sentiment. :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1375. beell
Quoting mamakins:
Can someone please tell me the timeframe for landfall for 90L? I have been following discussion and looking at the various models but I wasn't sure about the timeframe. I live in Clear Lake area south of Houston and we are trying to make preparations.

Thanks so much!!!!!


Currently-Anywhere from Friday afternoon into early Saturday. The where is much more of an unknown.

But this question is better resolved by keeping a close ear to local media and your Local NWS Forecast Office and your own individual needs.

Harris County Office of Emergency Management
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting stormpetrol:
Time: 19:29:00Z
Coordinates: 22.0167N 86.3667W
Acft. Static Air Press: 975.3 mb (~ 28.80 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 299 meters (~ 981 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 1010.1 mb (~ 29.83 inHg)
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 159° at 39 knots (From the SSE at ~ 44.8 mph)
Air Temp: 19.0°C (~ 66.2°F)
Dew Pt: 13.6°C (~ 56.5°F)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 40 knots (~ 46.0 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 43 knots (~ 49.4 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 17 mm/hr (~ 0.67 in/hr)

I think I've seen enough data from HHs to go straight to TS Don.



am with you 100% i think the nhc will do the same
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1372. jpsb
Quoting angiest:


Go to your blog and click the edit Ignore list button in the upper right. Delete names and click update or save, whatever it is called.
Thanks, no names are showing up in ignore, but lots of comments require I hit the show button to see them. I hit the show all button, but no change. Maybe WU is just having a bad day today. Doesn't look like TD4 is gonna do much today so I will wait till tomorrow and hope everything is working well then.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1371. Jax82
Quoting Tazmanian:
this will be are 1st hurricane


RIP TD4, right? lol ;)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
90L went from bust too a name storm lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
TD at least



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1368. roxycc
Send it towards Corpus! we need the rain!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting OUSHAWN:



I live in Plano now but use to live right off Saturn and Bay Area Blvd...only a mile down from Nasa. Also use to work right off El Dorado and Nasa Rd.


Never realized how many Clear Lake folks come here. I guess we all tend to lurk on the blog instead of posting.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Time: 19:29:00Z
Coordinates: 22.0167N 86.3667W
Acft. Static Air Press: 975.3 mb (~ 28.80 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 299 meters (~ 981 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 1010.1 mb (~ 29.83 inHg)
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 159° at 39 knots (From the SSE at ~ 44.8 mph)
Air Temp: 19.0°C (~ 66.2°F)
Dew Pt: 13.6°C (~ 56.5°F)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 40 knots (~ 46.0 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 43 knots (~ 49.4 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 17 mm/hr (~ 0.67 in/hr)

I think I've seen enough data from HHs to go straight to TS Don.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting atmoaggie:
aggregate? Was Nea "breaking up"? (Pull yourself together, Nea.)

If cat5 was really aggregating Nea, then Nea owes him thanks. I think.

Aggregate:
-a sum, mass, or assemblage of particulars; a total or gross amount: the aggregate of all past experience.
-a cluster of soil granules not larger than a small crumb.
-any of various loose, particulate materials, as sand, gravel, or pebbles, added to a cementing agent to make concrete, plaster, etc.

-to bring together; collect into one sum, mass, or body.
-to amount to (the number of): The guns captured will aggregate five or six hundred.
-to combine and form a collection or mass.


I know what aggregate means, on my iPhone which always does the autocorrect and auto completes the word. Basically my phone thinks it's smarter then me lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MrstormX:
Either way, this is probably TS Don with this new data. Special Advisory at 4:00 seems likely.


Awaiting the ever important vortex message.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting RitaEvac:
were already 60 hrs from landfall, gotta be named so media gets it out to public.


I agree Rita, no Rita or Katrina evacuation repeats. It would be best to get the watches posted, and then have an Ike like evac.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
can someone link hh data
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Cotillion:
Yeah, a good, healthy cluster of TS winds now found.


Flight level winds support TS
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MrstormX:


All the Global models have been suckish this year, on Bret also. Goes to show that their is more to forecasting then computers.

Indeed
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
this will be are 1st hurricane
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1357. OUSHAWN
Quoting lazerpointernerd:


Hey, I'm from Clear Lake as well! I live on El Dorado Blvd.



I live in Plano now but use to live right off Saturn and Bay Area Blvd...only a mile down from Nasa. Also use to work right off El Dorado and Nasa Rd.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1356. Patrap
NEXSAT GOM Viz Loop
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127549
1355. Jax82
So, none of the "Reliable" computer models saw this coming. Poor models, cant see a thing.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Either way, this is probably TS Don with this new data. Special Advisory at 4:00 seems likely.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
Quoting MrstormX:


All the Global models have been suckish this year, on Bret also. Goes to show that their is more to forecasting then computers.

Yeah, the only one they developed was Arlene, but some of them dropped it every once in a while.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
were already 60 hrs from landfall, gotta be named so media gets it out to public.
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
Time: 19:26:00Z
Coordinates: 21.8333N 86.3667W
Acft. Static Air Press: 975.3 mb (~ 28.80 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 302 meters (~ 991 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 1010.0 mb (~ 29.83 inHg)
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 170° at 34 knots (From the S at ~ 39.1 mph)
Air Temp: 21.0°C (~ 69.8°F)
Dew Pt: 14.1°C (~ 57.4°F)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 37 knots (~ 42.5 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 37 knots (~ 42.5 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 11 mm/hr (~ 0.43 in/hrboth surface abd flight the same, how do they treat that?
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5106
Quoting lazerpointernerd:


Hey, I'm from Clear Lake as well! I live on El Dorado Blvd.

\
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" :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting reid221:
Surface winds at 55 mph found ...


Suspect data noted though.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
1347. Levi32
Recon is finding lots of TS-force winds now.

000
URNT15 KNHC 271937
AF300 01DDA INVEST HDOB 17 20110727
192800 2157N 08622W 9760 00298 0102 +204 +137 163038 041 038 014 00
192830 2159N 08622W 9768 00287 0102 +192 +136 156041 045 057 022 03
192900 2201N 08622W 9753 00299 0101 +190 +136 159039 040 043 017 00
192930 2203N 08622W 9768 00290 0103 +191 +134 154038 040 041 009 00
193000 2205N 08622W 9752 00304 0101 +195 +133 151038 040 037 009 00
193030 2207N 08622W 9762 00292 0099 +208 +132 151039 041 034 009 00
193100 2209N 08622W 9759 00295 0101 +199 +132 148039 040 037 009 03
193130 2210N 08623W 9760 00293 0100 +191 +131 145039 040 038 007 00
193200 2212N 08624W 9758 00296 0100 +189 +131 145040 041 038 007 00
193230 2214N 08625W 9753 00299 0097 +200 +130 150040 041 037 004 00
193300 2215N 08626W 9764 00290 0097 +212 +130 144040 041 035 002 00
193330 2217N 08626W 9764 00290 0096 +217 +130 146041 042 035 002 00
193400 2219N 08627W 9762 00292 0096 +215 +131 145039 039 037 002 00
193430 2221N 08628W 9761 00293 0096 +215 +133 142039 039 038 003 00
193500 2222N 08629W 9762 00294 0098 +219 +136 142036 037 035 004 00
193530 2224N 08629W 9763 00293 0097 +220 +138 140036 036 034 005 00
193600 2226N 08630W 9763 00293 0097 +221 +141 138036 037 032 005 00
193630 2227N 08631W 9761 00295 0098 +223 +143 136034 035 031 004 00
193700 2229N 08632W 9763 00293 0097 +222 +146 133033 033 031 005 00
193730 2231N 08632W 9761 00296 0098 +216 +148 132033 034 031 005 03
$$
;
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Yeah, a good, healthy cluster of TS winds now found.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Backing up that many have already stated, we have Don if a vortex message comes.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1343. Grothar
Quoting Ameister12:
The models are being crap!

Hardly any of them still won't develop TD 4.


Navy has it as Tropical Depression 4. It will take a little time for the models to be redone.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1342. Patrap
18z Early Cycle NHC model tracks
Invest90
Statistical/Simple Models (CLIPER,BAMs,LBAR,other Statistical Models)


Dynamic Models (More sophisticated models)







Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127549
Quoting angiest:


We are very close to the timeframe for watches (TS or 'cane), so they need to do something soon.

Officially, my work has said nothing yet.


Either way, stay safe.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
Quoting JoltyJacob:


Not so fast there, Taz, do not count your chickens before they hatch.


Yea, you may end up with Crows!!! Haaa!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1339. reid221
Surface winds at 55 mph found ...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1337. angiest
Quoting Tazmanian:
a hurricane watch may be needed for TX


We are very close to the timeframe for watches (TS or 'cane), so they need to do something soon.

Officially, my work has said nothing yet.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
this is going right too a TS they are finding a lot of TS winds in there
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
HH also doing atmosphere sampling with dropsondes on first in boung leg, thhink i saw 3 anyway
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5106
Quoting Ameister12:
The models are being crap!

None of them still won't develop TD 4.


All the Global models have been suckish this year, on Bret also. Goes to show that their is more to forecasting then computers.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
Quoting IceCoast:

Well sorry to say it, but this blog is moving at a blazing pace right now, especialy woth the spam.I missed it the first time, and it's pretty clear you said this to aggregate Nea.
aggregate? Was Nea "breaking up"? (Pull yourself together, Nea.)

If cat5 was really aggregating Nea, then Nea owes him thanks. I think.

Aggregate:
-a sum, mass, or assemblage of particulars; a total or gross amount: the aggregate of all past experience.
-a cluster of soil granules not larger than a small crumb.
-any of various loose, particulate materials, as sand, gravel, or pebbles, added to a cementing agent to make concrete, plaster, etc.

-to bring together; collect into one sum, mass, or body.
-to amount to (the number of): The guns captured will aggregate five or six hundred.
-to combine and form a collection or mass.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
NHC needs to call it 40mph Don, the message needs to get out, we have 60 hrs.
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
mamakins: friday night/saturday morning i believe
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Time: 19:27:30Z
Coordinates: 21.9333N 86.3667W
Acft. Static Air Press: 976.0 mb (~ 28.82 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 296 meters (~ 971 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 1010.2 mb (~ 29.83 inHg)
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 166° at 35 knots (From the SSE at ~ 40.2 mph)
Air Temp: 19.5°C (~ 67.1°F)
Dew Pt: 13.9°C (~ 57.0°F)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 36 knots (~ 41.4 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 38 knots (~ 43.7 mph)
SFMR Rain R
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5106
The models are being crap!

Hardly any of them still won't develop TD 4.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1328. angiest
Quoting lazerpointernerd:


Hey, I'm from Clear Lake as well! I live on El Dorado Blvd.


Sometime Friday, possibly early Saturday seems most likely.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting tkeith:
is it safe now?

I dont know what I did to rile this troll up, again I apologize.


Good to see you came out of that unfazed.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436

Viewing: 1376 - 1326

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 | 38 | 39 | 40Blog 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.