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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I wonder whose idea it was to turn off rapid scan on the NASA site :(
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
wishfully wanting it (90L) to come to SETX. RAIN RAIN RAIN!!!
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1624. cg2916
I'm BAAACK! And not a second to soon, we have TD 4!
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1623. Patrap
ESL by LSU GOES-13 GOM Low Cloud Product Loop
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128645
#1497
Quoting sarahjola:
what is the movement? w, wnw, nw? tia


Uncertain but center appears heading about 300 degrees, a bit more N of WNW... not quite NW (315)... maybe, lol...
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Quoting angelafritz:
Waiting until the advisory to write a new blog.


Ok. Thanks Angela. If you can see this post.
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TD4 has tormed and also tobe is TS DON. there are two other AOI. one is east of the Antilles and the other in the CATL.The one close to the islands has been disrupted by south westerly shear from a TUTT to it's northwest. there is a robust circulation at 14 N 56 Wmoving west.shear is forecast to lessen the next 24 hrs, which will give this area of disturbed weather time to gets its act together. the other area is at 8N 35W moving west. cobitions are appear favourable for this wave as it treks west. some of the reliable mdels develop this system as it nears the windward islands on sun/mon time frame. there is sufficient time to watch this area of disturbed weatheras it continues to move west.
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Mayday, Mayday,
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9630
Recon missed the circulation to the west on the first pass hence the reason that the pressure decreased 4-5mb in between passes.
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Quoting MagicSpork:


If Corpus Christie wwas the first tee at my local golf course, Texas was the fairway, and Las Vegas was the green, then the HWRF model would be one of my drives


:) good one
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1615. Titoxd
Quoting Tazmanian:
AL, 04, 2011072718, , BEST, 0, 221N, 868W, 35, 1004, TS,


link? ATCF running best track only has it as a TD...
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No public vortex yet however.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5449
1613. DFWjc
Quoting sarahjola:
what is the movement with don? w, wnw, nw? tia


wishfully thinking it will track straight up to N Central Texas... :P
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Quoting Seastep:
WTH is going on? Posts not posting.

1457 @ 4:01 showing before 1458 @ 3:59?


Evidently big burp on the servers. THere was also big gap in posts where it appeared nobody was here, now WHOOOOLE bunch showing up with same time stamp. Like they were sitting in a Que.
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1611. skook
Quoting washingtonian115:
That ULL is suppose to move west and allow shear to lessen over the Gulf.The only main problem I see is dry air.




Yes the models pretty much show it avoiding most of these factors, along with the water temps, it could really go both ways....
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Quoting weatherboyfsu:
I do see some of the old peeps are still on here! Nice!
Beaumont!
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Quoting aburttschell:


Is it odd that the models are all relatively in agreement this early?



TCVN (Consensus Model) has been stuck there for some time. Global's are just coming around.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5449
Quoting Jax82:
Where is DestinJeff? DOOMCON needs to be addressed.


DONCON, surely?
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1607. Jax82
Where is DestinJeff? DOOMCON needs to be addressed.
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1606. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
T.C.F.W.
04L/TS/D/CX
MARK
22.33N/87.13W


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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
AL042011, DON
Link

Don?!
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I do see some of the old peeps are still on here! Nice!
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1603. Matt74
Quoting txbullseye:

Groves, TX near Port Arthur here
Same here. good to see another mid county person on here.
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AL, 04, 2011072718, , BEST, 0, 221N, 868W, 35, 1004, TS,
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115235
Quoting skook:




the ull to the west and the dry air/shear to the north could really slow down development...could.
That ULL is suppose to move west and allow shear to lessen over the Gulf.The only main problem I see is dry air.
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Blog is finally back to normal!

TD4/Don is going straight to a tropical storm. Not doubt in my mind.
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 5026
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
AL042011, DON
Link


Good catch, to be expected considering the latest data.
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Is it odd that the models are all relatively in agreement this early?
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Glad blog is back, 1001...pretty crazy.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
Quoting Tazmanian:



they all ran off lol yes they are here

lol
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Taz, we can see/hear you
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If Corpus Christie wwas the first tee at my local golf course, Texas was the fairway, and Las Vegas was the green, then the HWRF model would be one of my drives
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In case anyone was still wondering.

Link
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1592. bayeloi
Pressure is down to 1000.9 mb.
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1591. KimSETX
Quoting angiest:


The talk on Houston news that I have seen and heard is somewhat hopeful. We need the rain too much, and so long as it doesn't get stronger than a hurricane, I doubt there will be much disaster hype, at least locally.

The problem is, with any strong winds are the dead trees. There are tons around Houston and up Hwy 6 to College Station. Those are going to be knocked down and I'm sure some will hit power lines. Hope there is enough rain to keep fires under control!
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1590. cepheid
Quoting ConcernedTraveler:
I'm scheduled to fly from Houston to Cozumel at 10AM CST tomorrow. Anyone with experience flying around hurricanes? In your opinion, does it look like my flight may get cancelled??

Thanks


I flew around Rita on the way to CZM few years ago. If conditions there are such that the plane can land (and leave from there) safely, they will fly around the storm.
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Ok, so we have TD4/TS Don.

I see everybody is waiting for a 5:00 pm advisory.

Meanwhile.....the system SW of the CV islands is huuuuuuuuuuge. Maybe dry air kills it but, it is huuuuuuuuuuuge.
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Looks like Texas is going to get its much needed rain! Boy, we sure are in Central Florida!
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Awfully quiet in here...You guys have talked your heads off and now that we finally have a TD, you go silent?

You guys are odd ducks.


Everyone left the computer and started watching TWC to find out what's going to happen.. LOL
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1586. SLU
1001? RI?
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Has the DOOMcon level been raised yet?
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AL042011, DON
Link
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 11212
1583. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
T.C.F.A.
XXL/INV90/XX
MARK
22.33N/87.13W


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
I'd say it's been generally moving wnw so far today, but it appears that it recently turned to the nw.

thank you! i thought i saw a nw movement when i looked at recons coc position.
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Quoting Seastep:
1000mb

Straight to Don.
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1579. skook
Quoting reedzone:
Alot of you really believe this is going to be a Hurricane?? LOL

Even Accuweather believes it will be as Hurricane.. And there proffesionals. Are they not looking at the CONDITIONS ahead of this storm? Very slim chance.




the ull to the west and the dry air/shear to the north could really slow down development...could.
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Where is this storm supposed to make landfall at this time?
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What is wrong with the blog? My comments aren't showing up!
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1576. Jax82
testing
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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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