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 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.
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Gonzo flight pattern tomorrow afternoon


Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 11274
1871. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Quoting uptxcoast:


Live in Spring, work in The Woodlands. Best of both worlds.....

better HOA fees I bet
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:



I was going to post that any posting that a Hurricane is not going to happen are out of their minds. That is foolish posting in my opinion when 65mph is forecast. My family value is that we prepare for a full category higher than forecast. Living by that rule will keep you out of a situation you don't want to be in.


I plan early in the season every year for another Rita. That way I am prepared for anything. No sense in fighting long lines and possibilities of no supplies. If nothing hits, then kids get to have a fun time hitting the hurricane stash. It helped when we were hit with two hurricanes less than two weeks apart a couple of years ago (Gustav and Ike).
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:


That would be a significant pattern change, we'll see.


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


NHC has at 60mph in 36 hours. Wouldn't hear many calling them wishcasters lol
;-)
So they do.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
Quoting IceCoast:

Remind me why you want a 150 mph traversing the GOM?


He apparently likes gas prices of $6.00 a gallon.
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Don, from the looks of satellite images to be getting more vertically stacked, just within the last few frames.
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TAZ
Quoting weatherh98:


who?????
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Quoting JoltyJacob:


It's interesting that you brought that up, cause the blogger, Hydrus, was yesterday talking about a trough-like pattern establishing itself over the eastern seaboard as of next. However, you do not see this happening, correct?


That would be a significant pattern change, we'll see.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


I see one.
On loop I see 3. One moving towards the north, another towards the northeast, and another towards the southeast.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Given it's size, it's environment, and it's improvement over the last 36 hours, I am going to be bold and say it hits 60 mph in the next 36 hours.

I'm no wishcaster, but this one just says quick spinup, to me.

And if it gets organized enough, that it will shield itself from that mid-level dry air. (No hurricane takes in mid-level air...only low level.)
I have to agree.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Given it's size, it's environment, and it's improvement over the last 36 hours, I am going to be bold and say it hits 60 mph in the next 36 hours.

I'm no wishcaster, but this one just says quick spinup, to me.

And if it gets organized enough, that it will shield itself from that mid-level dry air. (No hurricane takes in mid-level air...only low level.)


NHC has at 60mph in 36 hours. Wouldn't hear many calling them wishcasters lol
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Quoting TampaFLUSA:
Thank you. TAZ is a troll and HE is one of the reasons I'm no longer a paid member.



I knew I wasn't the only one that felt like that. I haven't posted in almost 9 months before today. This is the only blog I read as an Insurance adjuster ( I know those are bad words but its the truth.)and I couldn't take it any longer with out saying anything.

I want to add something about the weather but will only confuse people. So I will sign off and try and keep it on the xtrp and narrow.
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1858. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Quoting Tazmanian:



lol come on now DON i want 150mph plzs

Remind me why you want a 150 mph traversing the GOM?
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NHC is sitting in total limbo regarding the strength of Don, they know damn well that these small vortlike systems can turn into monsters quickly if environmental conditions even temporarily become perfect, and they can and do take full advantage of those situations. And also spin down to pathetic vortices if conditions go haywire for awhile.

In other words, nobody has a clue what Don is gonna be like till landfall and that is only when it matters.
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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.
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don loks better than 40 im surprised igotta go
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Quoting charlottefl:


I think there is a good chance this will be a hurricane. And quite possibly stronger than a lot of people think it will be. We are talking about the GOM and it's almost August, I've seen crazier things happen in the Gulf.
Um Alicia anybody?
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I honestly hope this hits Texas. They need the rain!
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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.


snicker snicker...i am not an expert by any means, but I agree...lots of comments count...and reposts, well, if 2 people are posting withing a min or 2 of each other then it appears that things are being done redundantly...but when i pop on...i dont always have time to scan the last 15 pages so i rather appreciate the same thing being posted over and over...and btw...thank you for lurking and speaking out... :)
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Given it's size, it's environment, and it's improvement over the last 36 hours, I am going to be bold and say it hits 60 mph in the next 36 hours.

I'm no wishcaster, but this one just says quick spinup, to me.

And if it gets organized enough, it will shield itself from that mid-level dry air. (No hurricane takes in mid-level air...only low level.)
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
1849. JLPR2
Don is headed for some decently deep fuel so there is the probability of Don becoming our first cane.



Although TCHP is not as high as in the Western Caribbean.
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Quoting cheaterwon:


If your going to live in Houston it is the best place in my opinion, Everything you need localized relative to the size of Houston.


Live in Spring, work in The Woodlands. Best of both worlds.....
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Multiple outflow boundaries can be noted on visible:



I see one.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32528
DON IS OVER THE WARM WATERS OF THE GULF OF MEXICO...AND THE
GLOBAL MODELS FOR THE MOST PART FORECAST LIGHT TO MODERATE
VERTICAL WIND SHEAR OVER THE SYSTEM FOR THE NEXT 72 HR. DESPITE
THIS...NONE OF THOSE MODELS SUGGEST SIGNIFICANT STRENGTHENING OF
THE STORM...AND NEITHER DOES THE GFDL. THE SHIPS...LGEM...AND HWRF
MODELS FORECAST THE SYSTEM TO REACH 55-65 KT BEFORE LANDFALL IN
TEXAS...AND THE INTENSITY FORECAST FOLLOWS THAT SCENARIO IN BEST
AGREEMENT WITH THE SHIPS MODEL. IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THE 48 HR
INTENSITY OF 55 KT IS WELL BEFORE LANDFALL...AND DON COULD GET
STRONGER THAN THIS BETWEEN 48-72 HR.
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AREA 14N 56 W COULD WELL BE OUR NEXT INVEST. CHECK OUT RAMSDIS FLOATER TWO.
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Kewl (Don)..........If the storm does not intensify past Cat 1, nice to see the pending rain and moisture headed for Texas and it could end up as a big blessing for the State........Gonna be nice to see it break up over Texas "unwinding" and spreading some rain in all directions. Again, not hoping for anything above a Cat one for those folks.
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Quoting TampaFLUSA:
Thank you. He is a troll and HE is one of the reasons I'm no longer a paid member.


who?????
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Multiple outflow boundaries can be noted on visible:

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Quoting ProgressivePulse:



I was going to post that any posting that a Hurricane is not going to happen are out of their minds. That is foolish posting in my opinion when 65mph is forecast. My family value is that we prepare for a full category higher than forecast. Living by that rule will keep you out of a situation you don't want to be in.


I think there is a good chance this will be a hurricane. And quite possibly stronger than a lot of people think it will be. We are talking about the GOM and it's almost August, I've seen crazier things happen in the Gulf.
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As soon as they named this I ran outside and screamed with joy.
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Quoting JoltyJacob:
Good point, progressive.



Chances are high ATM, I'll be waiting for the Duck. Also need to pay attention to the wave in the Caribbean as it will likely take a similar path to Don...
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Quoting DFWjc:


love the woodlands!! miss it ever so...


If your going to live in Houston it is the best place in my opinion, Everything you need localized relative to the size of Houston.
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Quoting floridaboy14:
21% chance this becomes a cat 1 guys


Wow...that's high. They usually only go with 7-12%.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32528
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Nvm.

IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THE 48 HR
INTENSITY OF 55 KT IS WELL BEFORE LANDFALL...AND DON COULD GET
STRONGER THAN THIS BETWEEN 48-72 HR.



I was going to post that any posting that a Hurricane is not going to happen are out of their minds. That is foolish posting in my opinion when 65mph is forecast. My family value is that we prepare for a full category higher than forecast. Living by that rule will keep you out of a situation you don't want to be in.
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1831. Patrap
Consensus on the Storm Runs are in good agreement out 36

Esp the Dynamic.

We will see later how they compare to the 00Z output

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: 426 Comments: 129093

21% Chance of becoming a hurricane Friday
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
The National Hurricane Center predicts a peak between 55 kt - 65 kt.



One thing I've learned is to take intensity forecasts with a grain of salt.
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21% chance this becomes a cat 1 guys
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Nvm.

IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THE 48 HR
INTENSITY OF 55 KT IS WELL BEFORE LANDFALL...AND DON COULD GET
STRONGER THAN THIS BETWEEN 48-72 HR.

Watches should be issued by the 11PM advisory for sure, and warnings by tomorrow morning. That's my thinking...
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IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THE 48 HR
INTENSITY OF 55 KT IS WELL BEFORE LANDFALL...AND DON COULD GET
STRONGER THAN THIS BETWEEN 48-72 HR.

I think that's a 'we think it'll remain a TS for its whole life, but don't bet the house on it'.

Pretty sensible.
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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.