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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Quoting Cotillion:
1006mb. Flight level of 40kts picked up once.


Additional ones in the high thirties, just below TS strength.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1006mb, not bad...
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
1021. 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: 423 Comments: 127874
Quoting Waltanater:
What's the matter with you!? Where's the picture of his car or where he works?! Is that all? This is insufficient information you moron. You're fired.

STOP QUOTING THE TROLLS!!! REPORT AND IGNORE!
Member Since: March 31, 2002 Posts: 1 Comments: 1276
1016. WxLogic
Not bad... TD force winds on the SE side:

Time: 19:04:00Z
Coordinates: 21.9667N 86.95W
Acft. Static Air Press: 974.1 mb (~ 28.77 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 285 meters (~ 935 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 1006.4 mb (~ 29.72 inHg)
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 262 at 36 knots (From the W at ~ 41.4 mph)
Air Temp: 24.5C (~ 76.1F)
Dew Pt: 15.5C (~ 59.9F)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 38 knots (~ 43.7 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 30 knots* (~ 34.5 mph*)
SFMR Rain Rate: 0 mm/hr* (~ 0 in/hr*)
(*) Denotes suspect data

All the SVR WX is displaced to the S and E
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 4 Comments: 4970
Quoting tkeith:
I wish I could say that...


Sorry to throw you under the bus like this but we decided to sacrifice you for the good of the blog

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1013. Levi32
Quoting Gearsts:
Oh yea Levy what do you think of that new low in the Central atlantic and how strong you think 90L or Don will get?


There is a low SW of the Cape Verde Islands, and a tropical wave east of the Antilles. The former has a better chance to cause mischief, though the latter should be monitored as well. I have not delved into them too deeply as 90L should be the primary focus for now. Systems threatening land always take top priority with me.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26611
OMG even Rita is spamming, what has this world come 2!!!
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
Quoting quakeman55:
Who let on the spam party?



oh boy a party oh got the beer
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114965
TS winds reported S of circ.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
http://www.srh.weather.gov/images/fxc/sjt/graphicas t/image_full5.gif

This is not good considering our Hottest part of Summer is ahead of Texas.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
About how long does 90L have until making landfall in Texas?
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1000. mcluvincane
7:11 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
WTH is going on with this blog? Damnit man
Member Since: June 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1339
997. oreodogsghost
7:11 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Wed Jul 27 2011
1903 GMT
Latitude 22.0 N
Longitude 87.0 W
No turbulence
Currently flying in and out of clouds
Flight altitude 1082 feet (330 meters)
Flight level winds 270 degrees at 31 knots (35 mph)
Temperature 25 C Dewpoint 16 C
Surface Pressure 1007 millibars
Surface winds 250 at 25 knots (28 mph)
Remarks: AF300 01DDA INVEST OB 06
Member Since: February 2, 2009 Posts: 21 Comments: 1464
995. Cotillion
7:11 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
1006mb. Flight level of 40kts picked up once.
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300
994. NOLA2005
7:11 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting MeterologyStudent56:
How does this guy spam so fast? carpal tunnel!


A troll-bot, it would seem
Member Since: August 18, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 209
993. Seastep
7:11 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
You ok, RitaEvac?
Member Since: September 9, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 3414
991. weatherh98
7:11 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
can someone post a link o the hh data
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6482
989. belizeit
7:11 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Lets go to Levi's blog till this guy has been removed because Levi ia on again
Member Since: January 10, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 920
987. quakeman55
7:11 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Who let on the spam party?
Member Since: March 31, 2002 Posts: 1 Comments: 1276
986. angiest
7:11 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting bluenosedave:


Incorrect. I don't have a wunderblog and it works for me just fine.


That's the way it always used to work. :) You don't necessarily have to have a single post on it, just have created it.

Clicking on your name takes you to your empty blog, as opposed to a page saying you don't have one.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
985. Gearsts
7:11 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting Levi32:
Recon plane is about to enter the center of 90L, which is almost certainly a TD or TS Don now.
Oh yea Levy what do you think of that new low in the Central atlantic and how strong you think 90L or Don will get?
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1739
983. RitaEvac
7:11 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Tropical cyclone developing in the SE Gulf of Mexico a threat to the Texas coast.



Advisories will likely be started at 400pm on either tropical depression or tropical storm Don. Visible satellite images shows a well defined low level cloud swirl on the northern edge of deep convection just north of the Yucatan Peninsula and the system is likely already a tropical cyclone. The aircraft mission was delayed this morning, but the plane is now en-route and depending on what it finds the system may be upgraded directly to a tropical storm.



Since we are already close to 60 hours out from landfall, tropical storm or hurricane watches may be issued for the TX coast with either the 400pm or 1000pm NHC advisory package assuming the plane finds a closed low level circulation. Onset of tropical storm force winds along the TX coast would be sometime in the late afternoon or early evening hours on Friday with increasing rainbands during the day on Friday spreading inland. Still a bit early to try and nail down the greatest area for impact, but the region between roughly Galveston Island to Corpus Christi appears in the greatest threat zone.



Will get detailed TX impacts out by 600pm this evening after a suite of conference calls and the NHC package around 400pm. Main threat right now appears to be rainfall and strong winds with storm surge a distance 3rd due to the small size of the system. Will address all impacts later this afternoon.



Residents along the Texas coast should review their hurricane preparation plans and be prepared to enact these plans on Thursday.

Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
982. MrstormX
7:11 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting louisianaboy444:
Todd Andrews is a forecaster for some Ohama, Nebraska news station KETV


Probably a coincidence, or the troll was impersonating him.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
980. Patrap
7:10 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127874
979. hurricanehunter27
7:10 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Rita did you mean to do that?
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
976. RitaEvac
7:10 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Tropical cyclone developing in the SE Gulf of Mexico a threat to the Texas coast.



Advisories will likely be started at 400pm on either tropical depression or tropical storm Don. Visible satellite images shows a well defined low level cloud swirl on the northern edge of deep convection just north of the Yucatan Peninsula and the system is likely already a tropical cyclone. The aircraft mission was delayed this morning, but the plane is now en-route and depending on what it finds the system may be upgraded directly to a tropical storm.



Since we are already close to 60 hours out from landfall, tropical storm or hurricane watches may be issued for the TX coast with either the 400pm or 1000pm NHC advisory package assuming the plane finds a closed low level circulation. Onset of tropical storm force winds along the TX coast would be sometime in the late afternoon or early evening hours on Friday with increasing rainbands during the day on Friday spreading inland. Still a bit early to try and nail down the greatest area for impact, but the region between roughly Galveston Island to Corpus Christi appears in the greatest threat zone.



Will get detailed TX impacts out by 600pm this evening after a suite of conference calls and the NHC package around 400pm. Main threat right now appears to be rainfall and strong winds with storm surge a distance 3rd due to the small size of the system. Will address all impacts later this afternoon.



Residents along the Texas coast should review their hurricane preparation plans and be prepared to enact these plans on Thursday.

Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628

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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.

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