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 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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117. NEwxguy 4:32 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting CaneHunter031472:
Quoting, 80. lucreto 4:22 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
NHC will likely decrease to 50% at the next update especially with current steering taking it towards the Caribbean and out of any area where it could pose a US threat.

What? LOL you must work for the Weather Channel.



Better question is what are you smoking???
Action: Quote | Ignore User
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 523 Comments: 10289


or sniffing
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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?
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 109 Comments: 30268
I have to agree that 90L isn't all that good looking, but we have had far worse.

Tropical Depression 2 2010.

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Ok who is doing this to all the comments?
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125640
Quoting angiest:


Oceanweather Inc (no idea if they are any good) is saying otherwise:

Bull. The water is always upwelling north of the Yucatan.
It is cold within the first few miles and coolish within ~40 miles of the coast.



Seems Oceanweather could stand some improvement of their SST data/plots.
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Dont lie...
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Quoting CaneHunter031472:
Quoting, 80. lucreto 4:22 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
NHC will likely decrease to 50% at the next update especially with current steering taking it towards the Caribbean and out of any area where it could pose a US threat.

What? LOL you must work for the Weather Channel.



Better question is what are you smoking???
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Quoting CaneHunter031472:
Quoting, 80. lucreto 4:22 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
NHC will likely decrease to 50% at the next update especially with current steering taking it towards the Caribbean and out of any area where it could pose a US threat.

What? LOL you must work for the Weather Channel.

+1
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3813
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.


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.
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Quoting islander101010:
thats what i see dry area to its north
The dry area is pulling up to the north.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3813
Quoting TxHurricanedude11:
81:check out post 80...talking about even more stupidier comment


Just saying, if you're going to talk about someones stupid comment, I'd use correct grammar.
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GOM 120 Hour Surface Current Forecast Model (HYCOM)
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http://vortex.accuweather.com/adc2004/pub/includes/ columns/newsstory/2011/300x200_07271407_tspath.jpg
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Quoting, 80. lucreto 4:22 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
NHC will likely decrease to 50% at the next update especially with current steering taking it towards the Caribbean and out of any area where it could pose a US threat.

What? LOL you must work for the Weather Channel.

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Quoting NotCircumventing:
87W, 22N ... or so.
thats what i see dry area to its north
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I bet that is some heavy rainfall in that white. Maybe the whole system will be that color on IR when it makes landfall.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 109 Comments: 30268
Quoting louisianaboy444:
But guys even though you dont realize this you are playing right into his hands...theres no intelligent bases about his comments hes just trying to hype up the blog and get us talking about his remarks and off topic and hes doing a good job..people like this need attention...just ignore him and he will go away


Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 13 Comments: 10466
I got a bad feeling about this one.
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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.
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73. Patrap 4:20 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Storm Relative 1km Geostationary Visible Imagery


Action: Quote | Ignore User
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nice irregular CDO once out over open gulf it will get its groove on got a few hours to go
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LLC continues to move under the deepest convection.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 109 Comments: 30268
But guys even though you dont realize this you are playing right into his hands...theres no intelligent bases about his comments hes just trying to hype up the blog and get us talking about his remarks and off topic and hes doing a good job..people like this need attention...just ignore him and he will go away
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Quoting lucreto:
NHC will likely decrease to 50% at the next update especially with current steering taking it towards the Caribbean and out of any area where it could pose a US threat.



haha, that's funny. It's already in the Gulf of Mexico, so it would have to go east to go into the Caribbean.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 109 Comments: 30268
Quoting lucreto:
NHC will likely decrease to 50% at the next update especially with current steering taking it towards the Caribbean and out of any area where it could pose a US threat.
you are insane !!!!!!
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
The TWO will feature 90% or ~100% in my opinion.
i agree
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The TWO will feature 90% or ~100% in my opinion.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 109 Comments: 30268
Quoting lucreto:
NHC will likely decrease to 50% at the next update especially with current steering taking it towards the Caribbean and out of any area where it could pose a US threat.
you are to funny...
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3813
Quoting lucreto:
NHC will likely decrease to 50% at the next update especially with current steering taking it towards the Caribbean and out of any area where it could pose a US threat.


Not even going to touch this...
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Quoting Levi32:


I said north coast, not east lol.


Ah! I see where you mean. Still, cool is relative... it is all like bath water down there, even there. You should go there some time on a vacation.

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81. cloudburst2011 4:22 PM GMT on July 27, 2011
Quoting lucreto:
Now the blob of convection appears to be moving southeast 90L looks like it will eventually slam into Hispanola and dissipate.


you are really showing your stupidity...
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lights on nobody home
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Quoting lucreto:
NHC will likely decrease to 50% at the next update especially with current steering taking it towards the Caribbean and out of any area where it could pose a US threat.
what are you talking about ?????????????
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the cooler waters of the northern yucatan are the coolest maybe 82F. hurricane dora a week ago become a cat 4 winds of 155mph in that kind of water. sure it had better shear and atmospheric conditions but what im saying it the cooler water wont really affect 90L im thinking a peak of 50-60mph and landfall south of courpis christi
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(Wow, I'm late) Thanks Angela.
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Thanks Angela. Hoping 90l turns out to be the good news in what you wrote about today. :)
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
any sign of recon yet?


Not yet...
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Quoting lucreto:
Now the blob of convection appears to be moving southeast 90L looks like it will eventually slam into Hispanola and dissipate.


Huh???
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Are the crickets starting to chirp on the Texas bayous yet?
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78. jpsb
Thanks for the update! Well I guess I will be keeping an eye on this system. We sure do need the rain here in San Leon,Tx but we do not need a hurricane. Thanks to all for the great forecasts, you guys and gals make me the best hurricane forecaster in my little fishing village :)
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GOM 84 Hour Wave Forecast Model (using MIKE21)
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125640
any sign of recon yet?
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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.