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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Live look from Cancun in the direction of the circulation just offshore
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Rumor is that they took off, returned to base, and left not too long ago.
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Thanks everyone. Got it going now.
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Quoting Kaydalenascar:
Can anyone explain how to get the Google Earth add-on for the HH flight?


Go here: http://tropicalatlantic.com/recon/#gerecon

Click the Live Data Recon in Google Earth. Button.
Save file.

You got it.
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Quoting Kaydalenascar:
Can anyone explain how to get the Google Earth add-on for the HH flight?


It's on tropicalatlantic.com

Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
FWIW

FULL





ZOOM

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Hey Homeless,

It has been a while. Haven't been on since I guess.

Good to see you on!
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90L should become gradually more ragged as the day goes on IMO, with an increase in organization later tonight.
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Quoting Kaydalenascar:
Can anyone explain how to get the Google Earth add-on for the HH flight?


Link

Open Google Earth and then download this. If it doesn't already manually load, go to the Downloads folder and click on it.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32706
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Quoting Times2:
Circulation seems to be visible ovet the western tip of Cuba.


Link


The circulation is not over Cuba. lol

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Quoting louisianaboy444:
NHC looking heavily at the Cancun and Yuctuan surface winds reports. They know the SFC is closed and there but were waiting on Recon to confirm the findings...Recon is having "problems" NHC considered upgrading without recon data..dont ask who told me this because i wont tell


Who told you that?

lol, jk :)
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32706
Can anyone explain how to get the Google Earth add-on for the HH flight?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
NHC looking heavily at the Cancun and Yuctuan surface winds reports. They know the SFC is closed and there but were waiting on Recon to confirm the findings...Recon is having "problems" NHC considered upgrading without recon data..dont ask who told me this because i wont tell
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Quoting SomeRandomTexan:
Well hello folks,

Haven't been on in a while. Thought I would stop by. looks like 90L is shedding the second blob to the east and consolidating. Lets see if the next vort map shows a consolidating storm.



Oh boy it must be serious now. Lol. Hey SRT. How are you? I don't know if you've even been on since my name change. It was Homelesswanderer. I'm hoping I never get a reason to change it back. :) Also hoping this recon wasn't cancelled this morning.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 253
Quoting sarahjola:
is that a ull off coast of mexico and will it pull 90l with it?


Yes, it is an ULL. No, it will not pull 90L with it.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32706
I'm pretty confident in the fact that the upper level circulation is trying to couple with the lower level one, seen by the transfer of convection from off the western coast of Cuba to the NE of the Yucatan peninsula, where the LLC is.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32706
is that a ull off coast of mexico and will it pull 90l with it?
Member Since: September 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1294
Circulation seems to be visible ovet the western tip of Cuba.


Link
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Quoting atmoaggie:
You talking about the dry air along (just inland) the TX coast? I *think* that is simply a by product of the sea breeze starting up. It looks like it countered the lower to low-mid level N winds. (And convergence, a-la the pop up storms there, now)

And the high dictated it go west, if any direction.

I think it irrelevant to 90L.
thanks! i was also looking at the dry air coming down into louisiana. that has also stopped pushing south and seems to be going west. it don't look to be coming sout at all anymore. would that have no effect on 90l as well? let me ask a dumb question- the brown color is dry air right?
Member Since: September 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1294
Quoting Seastep:


Yes, but they usually turn on the data feed at liftoff.

Could be an aircraft problem.


Or stealth mode lol
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Well, I can tell you that Cancun has been reporting winds from the WNW, W and now WSW from early this morning until now. They have been light winds 5-10mph, but enough to justify what we are looking for...
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Quoting atmoaggie:
flagging every single comment not pertinent to any topic covered by Ms. Angela. (which includes any and all specifically about any one of us commenters)


At the rate this blog has been going for the last year or so, you may end up talking to yourself, since so many have left and much of what remains is garbage. I'm just glad we still have a core few who have stayed around and have some real knowledge. Just hope you all stay.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
This blog is most entertaining! LOL
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Quoting TxHurricanedude11:
remember its a long fligh from where took off from takes nearly 2 hrs.


Yes, but they usually turn on the data feed at liftoff.

Could be an aircraft problem.
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195. MahFL
Lots of spin now and intense cold cloudtops, looks like a TS to me now.
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Im sure the NHC will tell us at 2pm, but it should have taken off at 11:30am, but google earth has no data, and neither does the NHC site.
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:
90L's satelitle presentation has degraded significantly since I left...

Wow.



Maybe, but the satellite presentation doesn't matter at this point. It has displayed deep convection for well over 24 hours now, and despite the recent decrease in presentation, satellite imagery supports a better defined LLC under that deep convection to the NE of the Yucatan peninsula.

Maybe it's consolidating?
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32706
Well hello folks,

Haven't been on in a while. Thought I would stop by. looks like 90L is shedding the second blob to the east and consolidating. Lets see if the next vort map shows a consolidating storm.

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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129435
No change folks, recon is still on:

000
NOUS42 KNHC 261430
WEATHER RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHTS
CARCAH, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER, MIAMI, FL.
1030 AM EDT TUE 26 JULY 2011
SUBJECT: TROPICAL CYCLONE PLAN OF THE DAY (TCPOD)
VALID 27/1100Z TO 28/1100Z JULY 2011
TCPOD NUMBER.....11-056

I. ATLANTIC REQUIREMENTS
1. SUSPECT AREA (NEAR TIP OF YUCATAN)
FLIGHT ONE -- TEAL 70
A. 27/1800Z
B. AFXXX 01DDA INVEST
C. 27/1530Z
D. 22.0N 87.0W
E. 27/1730Z TO 27/2130Z
F. SFC TO 10,000 FT

2. OUTLOOK FOR SUCCEEDING DAY: BEGIN 6-HRLY FIXES
AT 28/1200Z NEAR 23.0N 91.5W IF SYSTEM DEVELOPS.

II. PACIFIC REQUIREMENTS
1. NEGATIVE RECONNAISSANCE REQUIREMENTS.
2. SUCCEEDING DAY OUTLOOK.....NEGATIVE.
JWP
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32706
90L's satelitle presentation has degraded significantly since I left...

Wow.

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Quoting mcluvincane:
Why did they cancell


They didn't.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32706
Why did they cancell
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Quoting alfabob:
Finally after all of this teasing, I think 90L is about to consolidate into a single stacked vorticity and become Don some point before mid-night (looks to be soon).


I do agree that it appears the 500 MB vorticity is trying to become coupled with the 850 MB.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32706
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Quoting sarahjola:
did they really cancel the hh flight?


No.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32706
182. HCW
Recon hasn't left yet for some reason I will try find out why in a few minutes
Member Since: August 10, 2002 Posts: 0 Comments: 1409
Quoting sarahjola:
hey atmoaggie- can you elaborate on this?
i'm not met, and don't really know what this could mean but in the last few frames of nhc wv loop it seems to me that the dry air that was headed south at a quick pace has leveled off and maybe even started going a bit west. am i seeing this right? can someone elaborate? if i am seeing this right then what effect if any will it have on 90l? tia
You talking about the dry air along (just inland) the TX coast? I *think* that is simply a by product of the sea breeze starting up. It looks like it countered the lower to low-mid level N winds. (And convergence, a-la the pop up storms there, now)

And the high dictated it go west, if any direction.

I think it irrelevant to 90L.
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did they really cancel the hh flight?
Member Since: September 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1294
Quoting Patrap:
Air Force HH C-130's or "TEAL" Flights depart from Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Miss.


I don't have the Google track (I know someone on here does) but it's probably about a 2 1/2 flight down the Yucatan out of Keesler in a turbo-prop so they should be arriving soon if they left at 11:00 EST.
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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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