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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First advisory up.
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Don advis #1 is up!
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TROPICAL STORM DON FORECAST/ADVISORY NUMBER 1
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL042011
2100 UTC WED JUL 27 2011

THERE ARE NO COASTAL WATCHES OR WARNINGS IN EFFECT. INTERESTS IN
THE NORTHWESTERN GULF OF MEXICO SHOULD MONITOR THE PROGRESS OF DON.
WATCHES AND/OR WARNINGS WILL LIKELY BE REQUIRE FOR PORTIONS OF THE
TEXAS COAST TONIGHT OR THURSDAY.

TROPICAL STORM CENTER LOCATED NEAR 22.2N 87.0W AT 27/2100Z
POSITION ACCURATE WITHIN 20 NM

PRESENT MOVEMENT TOWARD THE WEST-NORTHWEST OR 295 DEGREES AT 10 KT

ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 1001 MB
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 35 KT WITH GUSTS TO 45 KT.
34 KT....... 40NE 40SE 0SW 0NW.
12 FT SEAS.. 40NE 40SE 0SW 0NW.
WINDS AND SEAS VARY GREATLY IN EACH QUADRANT. RADII IN NAUTICAL
MILES ARE THE LARGEST RADII EXPECTED ANYWHERE IN THAT QUADRANT.

REPEAT...CENTER LOCATED NEAR 22.2N 87.0W AT 27/2100Z
AT 27/1800Z CENTER WAS LOCATED NEAR 22.1N 86.8W

FORECAST VALID 28/0600Z 23.1N 88.7W
MAX WIND 40 KT...GUSTS 50 KT.
34 KT... 40NE 40SE 0SW 0NW.

FORECAST VALID 28/1800Z 24.5N 90.9W
MAX WIND 45 KT...GUSTS 55 KT.
34 KT... 60NE 45SE 30SW 45NW.

FORECAST VALID 29/0600Z 25.8N 92.8W
MAX WIND 50 KT...GUSTS 60 KT.
50 KT... 25NE 0SE 0SW 0NW.
34 KT... 75NE 60SE 45SW 60NW.

FORECAST VALID 29/1800Z 27.1N 94.8W
MAX WIND 55 KT...GUSTS 65 KT.
50 KT... 30NE 20SE 0SW 20NW.
34 KT... 80NE 60SE 45SW 60NW.

FORECAST VALID 30/1800Z 29.0N 99.5W...INLAND
MAX WIND 35 KT...GUSTS 45 KT.
34 KT... 35NE 25SE 0SW 25NW.

EXTENDED OUTLOOK. NOTE...ERRORS FOR TRACK HAVE AVERAGED NEAR 175 NM
ON DAY 4 AND 225 NM ON DAY 5...AND FOR INTENSITY NEAR 20 KT EACH DAY

OUTLOOK VALID 31/1800Z 31.0N 103.0W...INLAND
MAX WIND 25 KT...GUSTS 35 KT.

OUTLOOK VALID 01/1800Z...DISSIPATED

REQUEST FOR 3 HOURLY SHIP REPORTS WITHIN 300 MILES OF 22.2N 87.0W

NEXT ADVISORY AT 28/0300Z

$$
FORECASTER BEVEN

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31462
latest sat pics showing vigorous cyclonic turning near 14N 56W. There are also low level clouds streming to the area. Is a COC trying to form in this area.
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1772. 7544
91L soon hmmmmm
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We now officially have Tropical Storm Don, per the National Hurricane Center.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31462
Quoting RitaEvac:
I'm having hard time making out which direction it's actually moving, NW,WNW, too much cloud debris going on
same here! i am going blind trying to see what the general movement is with don. i know a guy named don and he is as complicated as this storm. lol
Member Since: September 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1291
Expect Tropical Storm Watches for the Texas Coastline.....

Its too Early to issue Warnings or Hurricane Watches.
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Quoting deepee:
a lot of texas news services are jumping the gun and already reporting TS Don


It was renumbered though, just not put on the NHC site.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
Quoting aquak9:
My oh my oh my.

AtHome- do you EVER sleep?? :)


Hi AQUA! :D Lol. Yes, Gramma just woke up from her nap. Hope you've had a good day. And it appears the dance may work for someone. TIA Lol.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 676
Quoting deepee:
a lot of texas news services are jumping the gun and already reporting TS Don


Cuz the average Joe can look at satellite loops and tell what a storm looks like since were used to tropical systems, probably tire of waiting on the NHC
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Quoting JRRP:
Hmm interesting.
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not bad for july 3 name storms
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Quoting PcolaDan:


For no reason??? Who are you kidding. If you want to poof someone, go ahead. But you insist on bringing up JFV many times a day. All it does is stir things up. Just go ahead and poof them if you think that's who it is. Otherwise I have no problem with you.



sorry no commets moveing on done with this
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Quoting deepee:
a lot of texas news services are jumping the gun and already reporting TS Don

Well that's what it is...so why not?
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Remember, things always shift to the right with these models. Watch out Lake Charles....
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Main page of wunderground site is now reporting TS Don.
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Quoting MeterologyStudent56:


That track does not bode well....

IF this thing ramps up (I doubt it)... Houston, TX would be in the NE Quadrant....



no, be some good soaking rains
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1755. deepee
a lot of texas news services are jumping the gun and already reporting TS Don
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Quoting Tazmanian:



why not you leve me a alone i poofed him and i move on some of you guys jump on me for no reson what so evere



SO BACK OFF


For no reason??? Who are you kidding. If you want to poof someone, go ahead. But you insist on bringing up JFV many times a day. All it does is stir things up. Just go ahead and poof them if you think that's who it is. Otherwise I have no problem with you.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
1753. 7544
cant predict mother nature
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1752. angiest
Quoting Jax82:
this could be a Texas ***DROUGHT BUSTER***


Allison would have busted this drought. I hope we don't see that again.

Don, seems doubtful right now it will drop nearly enough rain to end a D4 drought.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Houston Chronicle reporting Tropical Storm Don...
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Uh oh, this is pretty tight



That track does not bode well....

IF this thing ramps up (I doubt it)... Houston, TX would be in the NE Quadrant....

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Quoting JRRP:



The sleeping Giant is awakening....
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Quoting RukusBoondocks:
how come this still isnt classified

It will be officially by the NHC in about five minutes.
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1747. DFWjc
Quoting Jax82:
this could be a Texas ***DROUGHT BUSTER***


I can only hope, we just hit 27 days straight of 100+, was 106 not too long ago...
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all so has i said not too long a go we may need a hurricane watch
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1744. JLPR2
Quoting ProgressivePulse:


Not much since it doesn't even see the tropical storm.



Looses the system after 96hrs, reaches the islands as a open wave.
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1743. j2008
Quoting superweatherman:
link
Link?

Link
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1742. JamesSA
@1717... Dynamical models have really tightened up!
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


That's enough!

The next time someone talks about, mentions, or even includes the words that you and Taz are talking about, I'm reporting you.

Ridiculous!
Now everyone knows how I feels...
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1740. jdb777
Time: 19:04:30Z
Coordinates: 21.9333N 86.9333W
Acft. Static Air Press: 973.2 mb (~ 28.74 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 296 meters (~ 971 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 1006.6 mb (~ 29.72 inHg)
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 264° at 39 knots (From the W at ~ 44.8 mph)
Air Temp: 24.1°C (~ 75.4°F)
Dew Pt: 15.7°C (~ 60.3°F)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 40 knots (~ 46.0 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 28 knots (~ 32.2 mph)
SFMR Rain Rate: 1 mm/hr (~ 0.04 in/hr)
(*) Denotes suspect data
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Quoting RukusBoondocks:
how come this still isnt classified


any time now
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1738. Jax82
this could be a Texas ***DROUGHT BUSTER***
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1737. Matt74
Quoting AtHomeInTX:


Orange County here. But hubs works in Groves so i kinda count? Lol. Still watching this one. :)
Lol. Good to see you on here too. Yea we need to watch this one. Hopefully some beneficial rains at least.
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how come this still isnt classified
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
so what does that mean?


Running a little slower than anticipated. That's a half degree further east and .2 degrees south.
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Uh oh, this is pretty tight

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1733. JRRP
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NHC is working on putting out the Package of Maps and Discussions....

Expect Tropical Storm Watches for Some of the Coastline of Texas.
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1731. JLPR2
Quoting Jax82:
Dont rely too heavily on the models, considering they didnt even develop this storm to begin with.


Euro (ECMWF) did try to develop Don several times but didn't get it quite right.

But it is pretty normal for models to miss small systems like Don.
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Quoting MeterologyStudent56:


Whoa Whoa Whoa...

Texas Bloggers are on High Alert now...

Now you want the Louisiana Bloggers going on High Alert?

Do you want the blog to Crash?



Lol....just repeating the words of the nhc....but, yes - blog is in full crazy mode right now!
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1729. aquak9
My oh my oh my.

AtHome- do you EVER sleep?? :)
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Quoting TxHurricanedude11:
one thing to note it his him he's lying about his idenity


That's enough!

The next time someone talks about, mentions, or even includes the words that you and Taz are talking about, I'm reporting you.

Ridiculous!
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31462
Get ready for some F5 action.
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Quoting MeterologyStudent56:


100 mph is way too high... Its not like its off Florida or in the Warm Central Gulf...

I say an 80 Mph Hurricane.

Opal formed in that location and look what it did...just sayin'. Went a different direction but it still intensified very rapidly...in October as well.
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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.