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 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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1724. skook
lots of rain off the coast of florida.
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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.


And it's heading into the Central GOM, is it not?
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4454
Quoting NotCircumventing:
DJ was grounded for 5 days. Don't ask how I know.

TS Don very soon I think


ohs DJ
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Quoting JoltyJacob:
Alright, in other news, so, Progressive, what are your thoughts on the 2pm ECMWF? ^_^.


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

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Quoting JoltyJacob:


Thank you, even though, I am certainly not this ''JFV'' which he speaks off, =).


I have no idea who you really are, but this has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with Taz. I DO believe you are another troll who just comes in here to stir things up though and will eventually prove yourself.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
link
Quoting j2008:

AL, 04, 2011072718, , BEST, 0, 221N, 868W, 35, 1004, TS,

Link?
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1717. Patrap
Consensus on the Storm Runs are in good agreement out 36

Esp the Dynamic.

We will see later how they compare to the 00Z output

18z Early Cycle NHC model tracks
Invest90
Statistical/Simple Models (CLIPER,BAMs,LBAR,other Statistical Models)


Dynamic Models (More sophisticated models)







Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 434 Comments: 133407
Quoting weatherboyfsu:
I think we see "Hurricane Don" hitting the Texas Coast sometime Friday evening.... about 100 Mph winds.....


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

I say an 80 Mph Hurricane.
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Thanks Angela,

I have some questions about that fire model, why does the range narrow? Most climate modes predict more extreme weather events, but the model does not reflect that.
The model also disagrees with observations strikingly for several years at a time.

I'm not sold on that projection. Just because a model can be projected far into the future, doesn't mean it should.
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1714. DFWjc
Quoting blsealevel:
33 kt = 38 mph is that right


33 Knots = 37.98 MPH
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1711. TXHolly
Quoting angiest:


Somehow, I do not remember Humberto at all. It must not have even given us rain in Katy.


Probably not. It came in very near where Rita did in '05, and it wasn't all that big of a storm. It mainly surprised people by how quickly it spun up so close to making landfall.
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1710. Seastep
Quoting OviedoWatcher:
If this is already TS Don, will it be considered to have made landfall on the Yucatan, or will landfall be counted as where it hits next?

OK, back to lurking.


It has not made landfall on the Yucatan. Has to be the eye/llc crossing.
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Quoting blsealevel:
33 kt = 38 mph is that right
Yes.
kts * 1.15 = mph
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1708. j2008
Quoting superweatherman:
Can someone confirmed Don...?

AL, 04, 2011072718, , BEST, 0, 221N, 868W, 35, 1004, TS,
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1707. cg2916
The center looks tight. With its relatively low pressure, it could intensify pretty fast.
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Quoting blsealevel:
33 kt = 38 mph is that right


You got it.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 34202
1702. Gorty
Quoting weatherboyfsu:
I think we see "Hurricane Don" hitting the Texas Coast sometime Friday evening.... about 100 Mph winds.....


There's going to be dry air. it all determines on that dry air. Can it fight it or not? Or will the dry air retreat? We shall see in the coming days.
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Keep waiting on that precious update...it will be a big one since they need to determine where to post watches and warnings and talk about potential impacts to the coast. Just gotta be patient...
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I'm having hard time making out which direction it's actually moving, NW,WNW, too much cloud debris going on
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9784
Tropical Storm Don forms in southern Gulf, moving toward Texas
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4454
Can someone confirmed Don...?
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33 kt = 38 mph is that right
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Quoting tennisgirl08:
I hope texas gets this storm, for rain purposes :). But, I think Louisiana needs to watch out, too. The nhc said central gulf coast residents as well. Just be leery of models until they have all the right data.


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?

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1695. DFWjc
Quoting sarahjola:
wishful thinking is nice lol but what is the reality of don's movement? i think i see a nw movement. am i the only one??? tia


no, i see it too, but again wishful thinking...
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Quoting AllStar17:
3 out of 4 Atlantic storms have gone straight to TS status this year.


Yes

* Arlene
* Cindy
* Don

Impressive..
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 34202
I think we see "Hurricane Don" hitting the Texas Coast sometime Friday evening.... about 100 Mph winds.....
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Quoting DFWjc:


wishfully thinking it will track straight up to N Central Texas... :P
wishful thinking is nice lol but what is the reality of don's movement? i think i see a nw movement. am i the only one??? tia
Member Since: September 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1299
1690. JLPR2
So we have Don and with some model support(EURO, CMC, Nogaps) this area should be 91L before the end of the week.

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Quoting Tazmanian:




hello JFV and POOF you go


GIVE IT A REST TAZ!!!!!!!

Whether it's really JFV, a clone, or someone else - until they do something wrong, leave it alone! This is getting old.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
If this is already TS Don, will it be considered to have made landfall on the Yucatan, or will landfall be counted as where it hits next?

OK, back to lurking.
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Quoting angiest:


Somehow, I do not remember Humberto at all. It must not have even given us rain in Katy.


I think he more or less came in to the eastern edge of Bolivar and went quickly NE. Boy that was a wake up call! :)
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Quoting Tazmanian:




hello JFV and POOF you go


Way to go Taz !!!!!

Now if WU could just IP Ban him....

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Quoting Tazmanian:



yes
Boy I tell ya.Dolly all over again.
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1683. Gorty
Quoting prcane4you:
Hurry someone call the governors of Gulf states to evacuate.a td is in the gulf.


I think it is Don. Center looks too good and strong to be a TD.
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Quoting AllStar17:
3 out of 4 Atlantic storms have gone straight to TS status this year.



not bad
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I hope texas gets this storm, for rain purposes :). But, I think Louisiana needs to watch out, too. The nhc said central gulf coast residents as well. Just be leery of models until they have all the right data.
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1679. MTWX
Quoting cg2916:


29 knots, 33 mph. But it is still preliminary.

You did the math for them yet they still don't understand.... Just let it go...
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Quoting ProgressivePulse:
Anyone else notice this

Last FTP fix
AL, 90, 2011072718, , BEST, 0, 223N, 873W


PRELIMINARY RECON = 22.1333N 86.8167W
so what does that mean?
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I was in League City TX in Galveston county when Humberto was east of us, it was DEAD still and yet so close to us, that was insane
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9784
3 out of 4 Atlantic storms have gone straight to TS status this year.
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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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