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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The 2nd month of hurricane season has turned florida into the "overcast state" as the northern edges of waves have been skirting by for 3 weeks straight! Temps have been down and rain up.....I call this a WIN WIN!
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They've not cancelled, have they?
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31450
If Don does form and remains a tropical storm as some are thinking, it'll be the fourth time in the current AMO positive area to have four straight tropical storms begin the season. The three other seasons were 2001, 2002 and 2006. Only one of those seasons were markedly active.

However, four named storms prior to August 1 is typically a good indicator of an active season. It's happened fourteen times before with only one that was not at least average (1997; 1908 was 'only' 10 storms, but considering its timeframe, that was a fairly active season).

Intriguing.
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 5300
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
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Air Force HH C-130's or "TEAL" Flights depart from Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Miss.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127543
Quoting weatherh98:
Its onlybeen 50 minutes maybe technical difficulties it might take timeto send backthedata


Nope it was set to take off at 11:30am, and arrive at 90L at 2pm
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Its onlybeen 50 minutes maybe technical difficulties it might take timeto send backthedata
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
">Bonnie does not even look like an invest, nevermind a storm.
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Quoting louisianaboy444:
Well 90L is interesting but i have a lunch date with my more beautiful girlfriend so yeah Chilis here i come...Two for Twenty! BBl guys yall behave in here

.
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Quoting sky1989:


Don't forget Danny, Erika, and Henri in 2009. Those were all something else!

Can't forget TS Nicole.
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 4898
They are in the air it takes some travel time to arrive at the area they need to take measurements.
Quoting Seflhurricane:
whats going on with recon ??? were they suppose to depart from mobile at 11 Am

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Well 90L is interesting but i have a lunch date with my more beautiful girlfriend so yeah Chilis here i come...Two for Twenty! BBl guys yall behave in here
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Quoting Seflhurricane:
whats going on with recon ??? were they suppose to depart from mobile at 11 Am


IDK, GEarth has nothing right now...
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127543
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Bonnie:



Colin:



Five:



Fiona:



Gaston:



Don't forget Danny, Erika, and Henri in 2009. Those were all something else!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Seflhurricane:
whats going on with recon ??? were they suppose to depart from mobile at 11 Am


2 eastern according to the blog
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
whats going on with recon ??? were they suppose to depart from mobile at 11 Am
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Quoting Patrap:
NEXRAD Radar
New Orleans, Base Reflectivity 0.50 Degree Elevation Range 248



Whoo who!! More rain comming. Another day I get away with mowing the grass. All I hope is that 90L bring so much needed rain to Texas as well.
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Quoting sarahjola:
is anyone else having problems with this site right now? the words don't fit on the page and its no letting me quote anyone.


quote people twice and hide some is what i do
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
Quoting sarahjola:
thanks


You are welcome. I figured that out a couple of weeks ago when I had the same problem.
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Future TS in the GOM with many more to come I am afraid.
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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
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
I have an idea. Why don't you guys put him on your ignore list? You know, that magical feature that Wunderground came up with where you don't have to read the ridiculous comments he is posting?
Why do people keep on saying this?!Every single day there are post like these, it is starting to get more annoying then the trolls. Nobody ever uses to its proper effect, it just does not happen. Dont mean to offend anybody by saying this but it just gets on my nerves.
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Quoting NEwxguy:


Ahhhh,pardon me while I pull the knife out of my back!!!



HAHAHA, hey im just pumped we actually will get to watch football this season!
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Quoting lucreto:
Putting me on your ignore list would deprive you of access to LSM and LGEN models two of the top tropical models in existence, do not be suprised if you see them incorporated to the NHC's model suite within the next couple of years. They certainly outperform the HWRF and GFDL at this point and often outperform the ECMWF.

Also they are far superior to that Florida State "supermodel" which is very overrated.
go to sleep, you have been ignored !!
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Bonnie:



Colin:



Five:



Fiona:



Gaston:


All true.
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 4898
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


It's okay we all make mistakes, like ya know being a patriots fan...


Ahhhh,pardon me while I pull the knife out of my back!!!
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90L will most likely be declared TD 4 later today and TS Don, early Thur. Hopefully it makes a bee line for Central TX to provide some drought relief.
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NEXRAD Radar
New Orleans, Base Reflectivity 0.50 Degree Elevation Range 248

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127543
Once 90L clears the Yucatan I think it will organize more quickly. I think the land is hindering it a bit for the time being.
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Quoting lucreto:
Me insane? No I am a scientist who has stuided these systems for over 10 years. I also use my extensive programming knowledge to re-configure software (namely Buffkit) to obtain some of the most accurate tropical cyclone intensity/track forecasts possible (with current technology).


LOL, where? Up in orbit onboard the Enterprise? Ok Say hi to Ctn. Kirk from us. I will save this post for future reference to see if yout advanced technology proves correct. Extensive programming lol. I'm an IT myself exactly what extensive programming are you talking about?
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113.| Ignore User



yeah and iam a rocket scientist
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Quoting NEwxguy:


Sorry,your right,should not be quoting these clowns.


It's okay we all make mistakes, like ya know being a patriots fan...
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Gulf of Mexico (Updated every ~10-15 mins)

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127543
Quoting Ameister12:
I have to agree that 90L isn't all that good looking, but we have had far worse.

Tropical Depression 2 2010.



Bonnie:



Colin:



Five:



Fiona:



Gaston:

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31450
Quoting weathermanwannabe:
I placed him on the ignore list last week so I have missed all the remarks but for all the "re-quotes" and comments. Really folks, click on the "ignore user" tab under their comment (anyone you chose) and your settings will automatically update and life will be much easier.


Sorry,your right,should not be quoting these clowns.
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Overall appearence does not matter. It is the structure of the system. The big question is going to be whether or not this system has a closed off SFC Low. People are pretty much expecting a TD when recon gets there but this can go either way. I've seen this before if theres even a hint of an open side in that LLC then no TD.
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I placed him on the ignore list last week so I have missed all the remarks but for all the "re-quotes" and comments. Really folks, click on the "ignore user" tab under their comment (anyone you chose) and your settings will automatically update and life will be much easier.
Member Since: August 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 8782
Quoting sky1989:


It is one of the posts between 50 and 100. The problem goes away when you set the blog to show only the posts in 50's that way you will view posts 100-150.
thanks
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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.