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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sudden spike in blog activity will do it every time.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5458
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:
Whoa... Where is everybody?



they all ran off lol yes they are here
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
Quoting Seawall:
Did the blog just come to a standstill?
The blog is screwed.
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1571. Seastep
1001mb
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Quoting RitaEvac:


Yes


Me too...where is this storm predicted to make landfall as of right now?
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Quoting Ameister12:
Anybody here?



no lol this kinding
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
Thanks!
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it insane how invest 90L almost fit perfectly between cuba and the Yucatan to enter the GOM considering almost dieing over the mountainous terrain of Hispaniola, making most believe it was the end of it.
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Quoting weatherh98:
Im calling 45 mph sustained 55mph gusts and they will have cat 1 don making landfall


Agreed.
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22.133N 86.817W 977.8 mb
(~ 28.87 inHg) 203 meters
(~ 666 feet) 1000.9 mb
(~ 29.56 inHg
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
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.
what CONDITIONS are you referring to? Enlighten us.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1001, definitely a TS...now a hurricane can't be ruled out in the future.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
1562. Seastep
1000mb

Straight to Don for sure.
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Quoting Levi32:


It's definitely a TS, but there are things worth pointing out that may keep it a TS for quite some time.


Poor vertical stacking and dry air ahead. What else?
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Quoting RitaEvac:
See these are the kind I have issues with....Say a 75mph hurricane is coming, well I'm not gonna put the shudders up right? so it's forecast to come in for example at minimal cane, so everybody brushes it off and goes to bed, then wake up and it's 115mph major, then it's too late to put the shutters up because weather has gotten too bad and too bad to evacuate


Exactly. Claudette in 2003 caught many of us a little off guard. Watching this one with you as well here on the Texas Coast. Need the rain...not the wind.
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22.133N 86.817W 977.8 mb
(~ 28.87 inHg) 203 meters
(~ 666 feet) 1000.9 mb
(~ 29.56 inHg
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
Quoting Levi32:


Not particularly. There are good and bad things about tracking either farther north or farther south. Either way, it will still feel the negative effects of the big central U.S. high. Those may lessen a little bit as TD 4 keeps trying to strengthen, though, and that's why some more intensification is definitely possible.


I believe the NHC is not ruling out a more northward pull, which is why they mention the central gulf coast in their advisory, correct?? I think lousiana needs to keep a very close eye on this...
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1557. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
X
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
1555. Seastep
WTH is going on? Posts not posting.

1457 @ 4:01 showing before 1458 @ 3:59?
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1554. bwi
1006mb to 1001mb in one pass? Did I read that right?
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they this fould a mb of 1000mb
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
1552. Gorty
Quoting Levi32:


Not particularly. There are good and bad things about tracking either farther north or farther south. Either way, it will still feel the negative effects of the big central U.S. high. Those may lessen a little bit as TD 4 keeps trying to strengthen, though, and that's why some more intensification is definitely possible.


It looks pretty good right now. It could be near hurricane strength by landfall. We also can't rule out RI. Look at Marco for instance.
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1551. bayeloi
Pressures down to 1000.9
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Anybody looked at the floater recently? Title been changed to 04L.
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1549. Gorty
Now are my comments showing?
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1548. angelafritz (Admin)
Waiting until the advisory to write a new blog.
1000mb, impressive.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
Quoting MrstormX:


If it keeps people safe, go for it.


That evacuation didn't keep anyone safe. I was in the surge zone, and it took 19 hours to travel what should have been a 20 drive. I will ONLY run as far as my cousins house in Alvin anymore.
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1545. Seastep
1000mb

Straight to Don.
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1544. jpsb
Rita I live 2 blocks from the dead end of 646 in San Leon. Galveston Bay is my front yard :) Used to work on Space Center in Clear Lake and before that on NASA Rd 1 in Clear Lake and before that on Gemini in Clear Lake and before that ...... lol
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Ummmm? Where everybody go? :(
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1000.9 mb
(~ 29.56 inHg)
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5458
Quoting MrstormX:


If it keeps people safe, go for it.
Well yeah to inform people.But not go totally nuts as if their was a cat.5 headed for the country.
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Quoting Patrap:
ESL by LSU GOES-13 GOM Low Cloud Product Loop
Quoting Patrap:
ESL by LSU GOES-13 GOM Low Cloud Product Loop


Looks like it moved a little north. We'll see if recon verifies.
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testing
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
recon found pressure of 1000.9 mb
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1534. BDAwx
Time: 20:01:30Z
Coordinates: 22.1333N 86.8167W
Acft. Static Air Press: 977.8 mb (~ 28.87 inHg)
Acft. Geopotential Hgt: 203 meters (~ 666 feet)
Extrap. Sfc. Press: 1000.9 mb (~ 29.56 inHg)
D-value: -
Flt. Lvl. Wind (30s): From 84° at 7 knots (From the E at ~ 8.0 mph)
Air Temp: 24.1°C (~ 75.4°F)
Dew Pt: 17.2°C (~ 63.0°F)
Peak (10s) Flt. Lvl. Wind: 9 knots (~ 10.3 mph)
SFMR Peak (10s) Sfc. Wind: 7 knots* (~ 8.0 mph*)
SFMR Rain Rate: 1 mm/hr* (~ 0.04 in/hr*)
(*) Denotes suspect data

hmm.
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Whoa... Where is everybody?
Member Since: July 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 5725
Afternoon All. Hope we don't have the "Windshield Wiper" effect with the tracks/cone. That really messes with my nerves. Hoping for a lazicane headed for Texas. They really need it...
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I am remembering Humberto in 2007...we went to bed expecting a small Tropical Storm and woke up at 3:00 in the morning to a Cat 1 Hurricane slamming my neighbors siding into my bedroom wall. I have learned to stay prepared here in Southeast Texas just in case...for the safety of my family.
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Quoting Levi32:


Not particularly. There are good and bad things about tracking either farther north or farther south. Either way, it will still feel the negative effects of the big central U.S. high. Those may lessen a little bit as TD 4 keeps trying to strengthen, though, and that's why some more intensification is definitely possible.


Which way are you thinking TD4/Don will go? Are we thinking Upper Texas Coast, Central or Southern? I know the models have liked Central Texas. I guess it's still anyone's guess until the models can latch onto an actual classified system.
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1527. Gorty
Now my posts are showing.
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1001mb now.

000
URNT15 KNHC 272007
AF300 01DDA INVEST HDOB 20 20110727
195800 2207N 08701W 9746 00276 0058 +231 +165 321013 014 017 003 00
195830 2207N 08659W 9744 00276 0056 +225 +166 332018 021 023 002 00
195900 2207N 08657W 9720 00293 0051 +225 +165 351019 020 022 002 00
195930 2207N 08656W 9728 00278 0041 +242 +163 338023 024 023 000 00
200000 2207N 08654W 9712 00283 0029 +250 +162 334027 029 025 001 00
200030 2207N 08652W 9695 00288 0018 +248 +164 337019 024 021 002 00
200100 2208N 08651W 9742 00245 0015 +250 +168 358008 012 008 002 00
200130 2208N 08649W 9778 00203 0009 +241 +172 084007 009 007 001 03
200200 2208N 08647W 9777 00209 0011 +238 +175 187016 023 005 001 03
200230 2208N 08647W 9777 00209 0017 +236 +177 214026 030 029 002 03
200300 2206N 08649W 9775 00211 0014 +237 +180 229022 025 035 001 00
200330 2206N 08650W 9760 00228 0018 +235 +180 262024 026 040 002 03
200400 2205N 08651W 9765 00228 0026 +241 +180 284032 034 037 002 00
200430 2204N 08653W 9785 00218 0034 +233 +179 283032 032 035 003 03
200500 2204N 08654W 9764 00245 0041 +226 +179 292032 035 034 001 00
200530 2203N 08655W 9766 00245 0046 +229 +177 296029 030 031 002 00
200600 2202N 08657W 9772 00249 0054 +232 +174 296026 027 027 003 00
200630 2202N 08658W 9775 00250 0056 +230 +171 292028 029 028 002 03
200700 2201N 08659W 9758 00265 0058 +235 +169 280028 029 027 002 00
200730 2200N 08701W 9796 00232 0058 +246 +168 278027 028 028 002 00
$$
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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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