Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:22 PM GMT on July 29, 2011
Tropical storm warnings are flying along the coast of Texas from Brownsville to Matagorda as Tropical Storm Don closes in on the Texas coast. Don remains a disorganized, moderate strength tropical storm, and appears unlikely to cause major damage or bring much-needed drought-busting rains to Texas. A hurricane hunter plane is in Don, and found highest surface winds of 55 mph at 11:06am EDT. Don continues to have trouble with moderate wind shear of 10 - 20 knots, which is injecting dry air to the northwest into the storm. Water vapor satellite images show this region of dry air to the northwest of Don. Visible satellite imagery from this morning shows little change to Don so far today, with most of the heavy thunderstorms on Don's south side, and the cloud pattern elongated, the sign of a storm struggling with wind shear. Radar out of Brownsville, Texas shows the main rain areas are on the south of Don's center, and bands of heavy rain are now very close to the Texas/Mexico border.
Figure 1. Morning image of Tropical Storm Don from the Brownsville, Texas radar.
Figure 2. The latest drought map for Texas shows that over 75% of the state is in exceptional drought--the highest category of drought. Image credit: U.S. Drought Monitor.
Forecast for Don
The wind shear and dry air affecting Don will continue until landfall, and it is unlikely Don will intensify to more than a 60 mph tropical storm. With most of the heavy thunderstorms displaced to the south side of the storm, Mexico will be the primary beneficiary of Don's expected rains of 3 - 5 inches. South Texas will see modest rains of 1 - 2 inches over a few isolated areas, but Don is going to do very little to bring drought relief to the state. Most of Don's rains in Texas will be concentrated in the extreme southern portion of the state near Brownsville. This portion of Texas is experiencing only moderate drought, and the extreme to exceptional drought areas of the state will miss the bulk of Don's rains.
For those of you wondering about your odds of experiencing tropical storm force winds, I recommend NHC's wind probability forecast. The 11 am version of this forecast shows that Corpus Christi Texas has the highest chance of tropical storm-force winds (39+ mph): 48%. The primary threat from Don will be heavy rain, which will caused localized flooding problems. An isolated tornado is also a possible concern.
Figure 3. Morning satellite image of 91L.
African wave 91L a potential threat to the Lesser Antilles
A well-organized African wave near 9°N 44°W (Invest 91L) is headed west-northwest at 15 - 20 mph, and could arrive in the vicinity of the Lesser Antilles Islands as early as Monday night. Residents of the Lesser Antilles should pay careful attention to this system, as it has the potential to organize into a tropical storm before reaching the islands. While visible satellite loops currently show only minimal heavy thunderstorm activity and no signs of a surface circulation, there is a pronounced large-scale rotation to the cloud pattern. Water vapor satellite loops show that a large area of dry air from Africa lies just to the north of 91L, and this dry air is inhibiting development. The SHIPS model is diagnosing low shear, 5 - 10 knots, over 91L, but the University of Wisconsin CIMSS analysis shows that moderate shear, 10 - 20 knots, is affecting 91L. Sea surface temperatures are 27.5° - 28°C, which is 1° above the 26.5°C threshold usually needed to support a tropical storm.
Forecast for 91L
Low to moderate wind shear of 5 - 15 knots is predicted along 91L's path over the coming three days, which should allow the storm to steadily organize, assuming it can shut out any incursions of dry air that might intrude. The latest 06Z run of the GFS model does show 91L developing into a tropical storm by Monday, but the other three most reliable models for forecasting formation of a tropical storm--the ECMWF, NOGAPS, and UKMET models--show little or no development of 91L in their latest runs. On Monday, when most of the models predict that squalls of rain from 91L will begin affecting the Lesser Antilles, wind shear is expected to rise to the moderate or high range, which should act to interfere with development. The latest runs of the GFDL and HWRF models show 91L developing into a hurricane by Monday, but these models are not to be trusted for systems that have not developed into a tropical depression yet. The long-range path of 91L could take it through the Caribbean or towards the U.S. East Coast; it is too early to know with path might be more probable. NHC is giving a 30% chance that 91L will develop into a tropical depression by Sunday morning.
Iran records its hottest temperature of all-time
Omidieh, Iran and Shoshtar, Iran hit a scorching 52.6°C (126.6°F) on July 27, the hottest temperatures ever recorded in the country. The previous record was 52.5°C (126.5°F) set in Hamidiyeh on August 4, 2001. If confirmed by the Iranian weather service, these readings would rank as the third hottest undisputed temperatures ever measured in Asia. There have been only two Asian readings matching or exceeding Wednesday's new Iranian record of 52.6°C that are undisputed that I am aware of. Both of these occurred last year, and were recognized by their respective country's meteorological services as new official records for their country:
53.5° (128.3°F) in Moenjodaro, Pakistan on May 26, 2010
52.6°C (126.7°F) in Abdaly, Kuwait on June 10, 2010
Iran is the third nation this year to set a new all-time heat record (no nations have set an all-time coldest temperature record this year, or did so in 2010.) The Democratic Republic of the Congo, the world's 12th largest country, set a new all-time extreme heat record on March 8, 2011, when the temperature hit 39.2°C (102.6°F) at M'Pouya. Congo's previous all-time hottest temperature was 39.0°C (102.2°F) at Impfondo on May 14, 2005.
Also this July, a 50.2°C temperature was measured at Aydyngkol Lake, China--the highest temperature on record at any official Chinese weather station. Next week, our weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, will report on this record. Credit for researching these records goes to weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera, who maintains a comprehensive set of world extreme temperature records on his web site.
I'm taking some time off today through August 9 for a family celebration and vacation, and don't plan on blogging again until August 10 unless a major hurricane develops. In my absence, Angela Fritz will be handling most of the blogging duties, and she will have a post on the latest for Don this afternoon. Angela is on Pacific time, so her posts will be later in the day than I make them.
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