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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476... Thanks. I'm on the upper texas coast and could use the rain. I do remember though going to bed with Humberto supposedley only making landfall as a 55-60 mph TS and waking up to a hurricane.
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so what happened to the GFDL????
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will we know what direction 90l is moving for sure with recon? right now i don't see it making forward movement at all. i mean is it going wnw, w, nw, or what?
Member Since: September 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1294
now on word too 90L and HH
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
Taz you are now being disconnected from the wunderground server, therefore no more acess to this site
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
What OS do you guys think i should get Latest version of linux or snow leopard?
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SATELLITE IMAGERY INDICATES A TROPICAL DEPRESSION OR TROPICAL STORM
COULD BE FORMING ABOUT 90 MILES NORTH OF CANCUN MEXICO. AN AIR
FORCE RESERVE HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT IS CURRENTLY ENROUTE TO
INVESTIGATE THE AREA...AND IF IT CONFIRMS THE PRESENCE OF A
CIRCULATION...ADVISORIES WILL BE INITIATED THIS AFTERNOON.
INTERESTS IN THE CENTRAL AND WESTERN GULF OF MEXICO SHOULD MONITOR
THIS SYSTEM AS IT MOVES WEST-NORTHWESTWARD NEAR 15 MPH. THIS
SYSTEM HAS A HIGH CHANCE...NEAR 100 PERCENT..OF BECOMING A TROPICAL
CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

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I ran out of quarters.
Now, I'm gonna' miss the last reel of this flick.
The conclusion, when these waves get a name, are always so climactic for the blog.
And I'll be blue:(
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Quoting Tazmanian:

sorry, my youtube account was having tech problems, all fixed now! :-)
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514. wpb
recon 18,000 ft to 1400 feet in 7 min
recon begins from the west
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Quoting Tazmanian:
PRweathercenter: will i got him POOFED but he need too start larning how too post a youtub video it mass up the blog on IE am uesing firefox and even firefox it mass things up a littl when you Quote him


Taz talk about weather and quit telling people what to do
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
Quoting Tazmanian:
PRweathercenter: will i got him POOFED but he need too start larning how too post a youtub video it mass up the blog on IE am uesing firefox and even firefox it mass things up a littl when you Quote him


Yeah my page gets all twitchy, bottom line is no Youtube and he knows it.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
Quoting NotCircumventing:
Bad quote Taz....

That video screws up the view for IE peeps.

Can you delete please?




you guys need firefox



Link
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
Jason do you have the map with the colors on it? The probability map.
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506. beell
funny, bf. real funny. knew that would pop-up somewhere.
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Sadly, I would love for 90L to come here (hitting in the same spot as Hurricae Ike did). We need the rain so very badly!!!!
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Quoting bigwes6844:
I saw that funnel pat. It didnt look impressive to me but i thought i saw something swirling around. it was lightning like crazy out here. Im in new orleans east pat not to for from where it was.


Wow,,way cool..glad it was a Poofer,,you can e-mail your report to them,the NWS if ya want too.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129903
ther goes the blog again smh!!
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Congress committee wants to cut 40 percent from hurricane research planes
-

Lets see how that works out if Hurricane Don strikes the coast.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
496. wpb
recon desending down to 90l.
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.
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
I think if it closes it core off and becomes tight and compact, it's gonna be off to the races
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
493. beell
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:




90L 12Z HWRF


Sometimes selfish is good!
Thanks, had not seen that yet.
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.
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
Quoting beell:


Gosh, maybe they should send a plane out...
; - )


Some of those fliers are pretty good at finding elusive lower convergence.

Quoting TampaSpin:



Thank you! Knew some would understand what i was saying. I agree as i stated earlier. If the graphic is wrong then we probably have a storm........if the graphic is correct....then we don't!


Maybe best not to discount your own instinct and observational skills in favor of a map, when the map's telling you something different from what your eyes can see. Balance.
:)
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Quoting pcolaflaboi:


I have been noticing and watching this same thing. I thought I was the only one.


As 90L pulls away from the Yucatan it should take on a more symmetrical appearance. 90L was pulling in dry air off the continent which could have enhanced shearing of the MLC.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5458
There IS a closed circulation! I see it.

Anyone know what happened to the GFDL model??! It disappeared from the map.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


It is possible, yes, but not likely at this time. A strong tropical storm is more likely, IMO.


I agree, but it could ramp up quickly like Hurricane Claudette did.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
Sorry for the delay and technical Problems

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Quoting Patrap:


NOAA RAdio Squawked that ,,but Im Uptown ,or about 8 miles West of that cell.

...thanx for the heads up.
I saw that funnel pat. It didnt look impressive to me but i thought i saw something swirling around. it was lightning like crazy out here. Im in new orleans east pat not to for from where it was.
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Quoting cctxshirl:

I like what you're saying. I"m in Rockport TX-6 ft above SL--don't want any storm surges of any kind.


I was there a month ago. A beautiful little section of the coast, and thankfully CC is close enough to attract most of the tourists. Everytime I cross Copano Bay heading out I long to return.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting ILwthrfan:
Anyone got an opinion on the outflow over the last few hours to the north of the system. Looks as if the shear has really dropped off recently judging by the cirrus clouds now beginning to vent to the north of the storm as well.


I have been noticing and watching this same thing. I thought I was the only one.
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Come on DON!!!!!!

I think the chain is going to be broken come Friday or Saturday.
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Quoting floridaboy14:
let me explain something. the more northerly the system is in this situation the weaker it is the more southerly the stronger so south texas strong system upper texas weaker system


I understand that but that is because of the orientation of the high pressure..but if that high pressure orientation changes that could not be the case as much anymore
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Quoting jasonweatherman2011:
we have two new tropical lows on the map!!



Models are flirting with development of that low. Surely an area to watch soon, along with the Eastern Caribbean.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5458
Quoting Matt74:
Do you think it has a chance to attain hurricane status?


It is possible, yes, but not likely at this time. A strong tropical storm is more likely, IMO.
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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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