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: 1926 - 1876

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

Hey party people... how goes it?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Man, I really am not in the mood for anything stronger than a 75mph cane, I do not feel like putting shutters up, or anything, just wanna watch some heavy rain and wind soak into my ground
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Now they hit the circulation. 0.6mb lower.

211400 2215N 08656W 9772 00206 0003 248 186 089017 019 005 005 03
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Really, if it's in red below, it's warm enough for anything, relative to Don.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1922. Patrap

GOM TCHP



Depth of the 26C isotherm

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127664
1921. Seawall
Quoting aislinnpaps:
Anyone wishing for a huge hurricane has never had to pay for the wreckage, dealt with the insurance companies, the lack of supplies _after_ the hurricane has passed. In other words, odds are they are not an adult who lives in hurricane territory.


+1000
Rita taught me a valuable lesson. I've never worked so hard in my life trying to clear away limbs and trees. Even with some help from other kind people, it was still such a mess. And the heat was something else. No electricity for fifteen days was enough to make a believer out of me.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting cycleranger:
Wouldn't Don actually pass over the Loop Current Eddy that has recently broken off?

Surely the heat potential there would aid in a quicker intensification.

Hey AtHome! A nerve-racking next few days for us.


Hey Cycleranger! Yes it is. Specially with the NHC saying NW Gulf should still pay attention.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 682
Quoting RitaEvac:
I'm afraid Don is gonna to create a force field around himself and block out anything trying to intrude into it's core. Create its own environment


I thought only very strong hurricanes can do that?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1916. Seastep
Lower at 1000.3mb
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Don has officially formed! Active start to this season, already 4 named storms and July isn't even over yet.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I'm afraid Don is gonna to create a force field around himself and block out anything trying to intrude into it's core. Create its own environment
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
Additional upper air obs starting tomorrow afternoon
Good.
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


You gotta spend a lot of time watching TV with your children......
Not all that much, but I guess I do it enough...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
If I read NHC's discussion correctly (per the current intensity model guidance) it seems that they are not sure in the long term what the intensity will exactly be. There is a suggestion that sheer could be an inhibiting feature but if sheer remains light, and Don is able to intensify a bit ahead of track, anything is possible because, quite frankly and as we have noted today, waters in the Gulf are extremely hot all the way to the coastline and this is the first storm of season that could really take advantage of those conditions. Seems to me that the only two inhibitors at this point are possible sheer and the dryer air to the West which is quickly retro-grading out of the way of the storm. If Don's moisture field expands and sheer remains relatively low as it approaches the coast in a few days, he could get beyond a minimal hurricane....Not wish casting and just making the observation.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
i also remember when we complained that it wasn't .75 a gallon too lol...wow...i feel old all of a sudden
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting cycleranger:
Wouldn't Don actually pass over the Loop Current Eddy that has recently broken off?

Surely the heat potential there would aid in a quicker intensification.

Hey AtHome! A nerve-racking next few days for us.
Yes your right.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting cycleranger:
Wouldn't Don actually pass over the Loop Current Eddy that has recently broken off?

Surely the heat potential there would aid in a quicker intensification.

Hey AtHome! A nerve-racking next few days for us.


According to Pat's map in post 1902, looks like he's over the warmest water he'll encounter right now.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Well I went out on a limb and said 90L would develop, now I say it will be the first hurricane of the 2011 Season, possibly the first major ( cat 3) imo.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Additional upper air obs starting tomorrow afternoon




000
NOUS74 KEHU 272109
ADASRH
ALERT ADMINISTRATIVE MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SOUTHERN REGION HEADQUARTERS
409 PM CDT THU JUL 27 2011

TO: ALL SR OFFICES

FROM: SRH ROC

SUBJECT: INITIATION OF EXTENDED ROC TROPICAL OPERATIONS

THE SRH ROC HAS ENTERED EXTENDED ROC OPERATIONS LEVEL 1 IN
ASSOCIATION WITH TROPICAL STORM DON. THE ROC WILL BE STAFFED
CONTINUOUSLY 24 HOURS UNTIL THE THREAT FROM TROPICAL STORM DON HAS
ENDED.

IN ADDITION...THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER HAS REQUESTED SPECIAL
SIX HOURLY UPPER AIR OBSERVATIONS FROM THE FOLLOWING STATIONS
BEGINNING 18Z THURSDAY IN SUPPORT OF TROPICAL STORM DON.

BRO...CRP...DRT...FWD...SHV...LCH...JAN...LIX

SPECIAL SIX HOURLY UPPER AIR OBSERVATIONS WILL BEGIN TOMORROW AT 18Z
AND CONTINUE UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

$$

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NOVArules:


Remember those times when gas was below $1?
Ahhh yes.That was awesome!!!.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1003mb on the latest pass. Wonder if they missed the center.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1903. angiest
Quoting NOVArules:


Remember those times when gas was below $1?


I am not in my chosen profession because of <$0.90/gallon gas.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1902. Patrap
GOM 120 Hour Surface Current Forecast Model (HYCOM)
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127664
Quoting aislinnpaps:
Anyone wishing for a huge hurricane has never had to pay for the wreckage, dealt with the insurance companies, the lack of supplies _after_ the hurricane has passed. In other words, odds are they are not an adult who lives in hurricane territory.


agree 1,000%...went thru Hugo myself...had to move 2 days after the eye passed...our apartment building was destroyed...ever try to move when you don't have access to a bank for deposits, rent, etc and on top of it thousands of others trying to find a place to live as well...plus, our car was glass destroyed, not legally drivable and i had an infant at the time...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1900. HCW
Recon is reporting lightning
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
When i see the dark green i always know it will become a strong hurricane, i bet it goes cat2 .(yes i know it only means 5%)
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
Wouldn't Don actually pass over the Loop Current Eddy that has recently broken off?

Surely the heat potential there would aid in a quicker intensification.

Hey AtHome! A nerve-racking next few days for us.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting charlottefl:


I think he had said the pattern shifts at the end of August.


That's a little far out for me to speculate, lol. High pressure rules the current stage.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Only reached 1003mb this time around:

210530 2211N 08700W 9768 00232 0030 238 172 323020 023 020 002 00

Edit: they missed the circulation to the west...again.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MississippiWx:
I'm a little worried about how fast Don seems to be organizing. The further he gets away from the Yucatan, the more organized he's getting. On visible, I'm starting to see the looks of a solid inner core developing. If that inner core can close itself off, all bets are off on intensity. It's open to the south due to interaction with the Northern Yucatan.


Agreed. This system has always had a pretty decent inner core since it was 0% yesterday morning.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31554
Quoting washingtonian115:
6.00 a gallon would make me go F'ing crazy.I like to drive..especially since our train air condition systems arn't working.


Remember those times when gas was below $1?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hey guys it would not suprise me if this storm slows down a bit too... if it does I'm thinking a more northern Texas Coast closer to Houston/ Galveston Area....


Taco :o)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Anyone wishing for a huge hurricane has never had to pay for the wreckage, dealt with the insurance companies, the lack of supplies _after_ the hurricane has passed. In other words, odds are they are not an adult who lives in hurricane territory.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Don is ingesting some dry air, and spiting outflow boundaries at the bottom. Not what you want to see in a rapidly strengthening system.

Anyone care to speculate where that dry air is coming from? My guess is off the Yucatan, or the northwest quadrant, but which is moistening rapido.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1890. MTWX
Quoting Patrap:

Not liking the looks of these...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Funny but gas prices went up 6 to 8 cents overnight. I think the oil companies have the best forecasters....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting atmoaggie:
It's a cartoon bird bent over to get a worm out of the BOC...


You gotta spend a lot of time watching TV with your children......
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1887. TxKeef
Quoting cheaterwon:



You know I spend most of my time lurking and trying to learn, but you make it really hard. You constantly tell people not to post on topics other then weather and threaten them with a 24 hr. ban, and then 2 comments later you are like I will hit 103,000 post tonight and make random comments that have nothing to do with well nothing. You are the biggest troll on here and for some reason people have accepted you. For the rest of y'all you are awesome thanks for all that y'all add in helping a uneducated lurker like me. Back to lurking from The Woodlands, Texas y'all have a wonderful day.




I agree with you 100% No offense intended, but I feel it is the truth.

On the other hand, any update on what the high is doing and the effect it may have on the eventual path of Don?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I want to put out their that this is a small system.Small systems can spend up very quickly.Remember other past small systems?.even Bret was getting his act together,even though he didn't reach hurricane intensity.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1885. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127664
1884. JRRP
Quoting jasonweatherman2011:
i do not like this!!

copy and paste lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting atmoaggie:
It's a cartoon bird bent over to get a worm out of the BOC...
You sir, are a genius.

Quoting MississippiWx:


They don't seem to be very significant. Convection continues to sustain itself and it's getting stronger. The only thing those outflow boundaries will do will be to help moisten the northern part of the system.
Yup, I noticed the same thing. Despite the downdrafts, the system continues to fire strong updrafts over top the circulation.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Ah, gotta love the massive duplicate postings of the NHC advisories....must mean that hurricane season is truly upon us
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Intensity forecastes are not as accurate as predicting where tropical systems will go.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MississippiWx:


He apparently likes gas prices of $6.00 a gallon.
6.00 a gallon would make me go F'ing crazy.I like to drive..especially since our train air condition systems arn't working.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
Gonzo flight pattern tomorrow afternoon


It's a cartoon bird bent over to get a worm out of the BOC...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1878. angiest
NWS Houston on newly-named Don:

Outer convective bands with Tropical Storm Don will begin to
affect the coastal waters early Friday and will spread across southeast
Texas Friday afternoon/evening. With the storm forecast to make
landfall just west of the County Warning Area as a tropical storm...the main
impacts would be heavy rainfall and the possibility of isolated
tornadoes...especially across the western portions of the County Warning Area.
Several factors may help mitigate the overall potential for inland
flooding: the smaller areal size of the storm...the steady
forward speed...and of course the ongoing exceptional drought.
Based on the current forecast track...tropical storm force winds
will be possible over the southwest zones and along the western
coastal areas...along with minor tidal flooding along the
immediate coast and bays. There is still considerable uncertainty
in the track and intensity forecast. Persons across southeast Texas should
closely monitor the latest forecast information from NHC.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
atmo...i will be bolder and say that it will be at 60 before 36 hours...i say 24 or less...they already found higher winds (47mph) in it...not just gusts... just heard it on the TV...night time will hamper a big increase but by tomorrow afternoon...look out... got a bad feeling on this one
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
On loop I see 3. One moving towards the north, another towards the northeast, and another towards the southeast.


They don't seem to be very significant. Convection continues to sustain itself and it's getting stronger. The only thing those outflow boundaries will do will be to help moisten the northern part of the system.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 1926 - 1876

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.