Lee's winds fan deadly Texas fires; a dangerous day for Lee's floods and tornadoes

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:43 PM GMT on September 05, 2011

Share this Blog
20
+

Texas' unprecedented heat wave and drought turned deadly yesterday when fires fanned by Tropical Storm Lee's gusty winds swept through East Texas, torching 300 homes near Austin, and killing a woman and her 18-month old daughter who couldn't escape the flames in Gladewater. At Austin Bergstrom Airport yesterday afternoon, the counter-clockwise circulation around Tropical Storm Lee brought sustained winds of 25 mph, gusting to 31. Lee didn't bring any clouds or moisture to Austin, and the afternoon high hit 102°, with a humidity of 22%. With the region enduring it's driest 1-year drought on record, yesterday's heat, dryness, and winds resulted in extremely critical fire conditions. The forecast today for Austin is marginally better--temperatures will be cooler, only reaching the upper 80s, but strong winds of 20 - 25 mph will continue to blow, and the atmosphere will be drier, with humidities in the 15 - 25% range. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has declared a "Critical" fire weather danger area for East Texas today, one level below yesterday's "Extremely Critical" conditions. You can monitor today's fire activity by using our wundermap for Austin with the fire layer turned on. The summer of 2011 now holds every major heat record for the city of Austin, including most 100° days (67 so far), hottest month in recorded history (August, breaking the previous record by a remarkable 2.1°), hottest summer (by 1.1°), and hottest day in history (112°F, tied with Sep, 5, 2000.)

Texas' unprecedented heat
For as long as people have been taking weather measurements in Texas, there has never been a summer hotter than the summer of 2011. As wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt documents in his latest blog post, seventeen major cities in Texas recorded their hottest summer on record in 2011. Most of these stations had records extending back more than 100 years, and several of the records were smashed by an amazing 3.4°F--at Lubbock and at Wichita Falls. Neighboring states also experienced unprecedented heat, with Oklahoma recording America's hottest month by any state in recorded history during July, and Shreveport, Louisiana breaking its record for hottest month by 3°F in August. Mr. Burt commented to me: " I do not believe I have ever seen a site with a long period of record, like Shreveport, where records go back to 1874, break its warmest single month on record by an astonishing 3°. This is unheard of. Usually when a site breaks its single month temperature record, we are talking about tenths of a degree, rarely a whole degree, let alone 3 degrees! Hard to believe, frankly." Texas has also had its worst fire season on record, with over 3.5 million acres burned this year, and it's driest 1-year period in recorded history.


Figure 1. Observed rainfall for the seven-day period ending at 8 am EDT Monday Sep 5, 2011. Tropical Storm Lee had dumped in excess of ten inches of rain sections of Louisiana and Mississippi (pink colors). Image credit: NOAA/AHPS.

Heavy rains from Lee creating dangerous flooding situation
Tropical Storm Lee has been absorbed by a cold front, and is no longer a tropical depression. However, the remnants of Lee are bringing torrential rains to the South and Appalachians today, and pose a serious flood threat. NOAA's latest Quantitative Precipitation Forecast warns that "an excessive and life-threatening rainfall event will be unfolding today and tonight across the Tennessee Valley and also the Southern Appalachians." A wide region of 4 - 8 inches of rain is expected along the path of Lee's remnants as they slide northeastwards along the front. These rains will likely accumulate later this week to 2 - 3 inches over New England regions devastated by Hurricane Irene's floods. Also of concern is the potential for tornadoes today. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has logged 22 tornado reports so far from Lee, and today promises to be the most serious day for tornadoes yet, with SPC predicting a "Moderate Risk" of tornadoes across the South. Lee's heaviest rain amounts, by state, as of 10 am CDT today:

Holden, LA: 15.43"
Florence, MS: 13.45"
Mobile, AL: 11.35"
Milton, FL: 10.03"
Cumberland City, TN: 5.09"
Bridge City, TX: 3.12"
Plum Springs, KY: 3.10"


Figure 2. Predicted rainfall for the 5-day period 8am EDT Monday - 8 am EDT Saturday, Sep 10, 2011. Lee's remnants are expected to bring a large swath of 4+ inches of rain all the way to Pennsylvania. Image credit: NOAA/HPC.


Figure 3. Severe weather risk for Monday, September 5, 2011.

Hurricane Katia
Hurricane Katia is close to major hurricane strength, and is now a high-end Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds. Latest satellite loops show a well-defined eye and good upper-level outflow on all sides, but the hurricane still has a lopsided appearance, due to the impacts of dry air and moderate wind shear on its south side.

The computer models have finally come into agreement on the long-range future of Katia, determining that the trough of low pressure that will develop over the Eastern U.S. later this week will turn the hurricane to the north well before the storm reaches the U.S. As the storm moves northwards past North Carolina, Katia will get caught up in west-to-east moving winds associated with the jet stream, and taken northeastwards out to sea. No land areas are in Katia's cone of uncertainty, though Newfoundland, Canada will need to watch future forecasts to see how close Katia may pass to the southeastern portion of that province. The main impact of Katia will be high surf leading to beach erosion and dangerous rip currents. Long period swells from Katia are arriving at the Southeast U.S. coast today, and the entire U.S. East Coast will receive an extended multi-day period of high surf.


Figure 4. Afternoon satellite image of Hurricane Katia.

95L off the coast of Africa
A large tropical wave with plenty of intense thunderstorm activity and spin is located about 500 miles southwest of the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa. This wave, Invest 95L, is under a moderate 10 - 20 knots of wind shear, and is headed west at 15 mph. Water vapor satellite images show that 95L is embedded in a very moist environment. Ocean temperatures are near 28°C, which is 1.5°C above the 26.5°C threshold usually needed for a tropical storm to form. With wind shear predicted to drop to the low range tomorrow, I don't see anything that would keep 95L from becoming a tropical depression in two or so days. NHC is giving 95L a 20% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Wednesday; given the storm's rather impressive organization and spin apparent on recent satellite loops, I'd put these odds at 40%. The NOGAPS model predicts 95L will develop by Saturday, a few hundred miles north of the Northern Lesser Antilles Islands, but this storm could just as easily pass directly through the Lesser Antilles on Saturday or Sunday, and develop into a tropical storm much sooner. If you plan on being in the Lesser Antilles Islands this weekend, pay attention to 95L.

New Gulf of Mexico disturbance
A cold front swept into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Texas behind Tropical Storm Lee early this morning. The front is expected to continue to the east and stall out Tuesday and Wednesday along a line from Louisiana to Mexico's Bay of Campeche in the southern Gulf of Mexico. Several recent runs of the ECMWF and GFS models have given support to the idea that a tropical depression would form at the tail end of this front late this week, in Mexico's Bay of Campeche. The path such a storm might take would depend strongly on where the center forms. A more northerly formation location near the top of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula would likely result in a northward motion towards the Florida Panhandle, while a more southerly formation location might lead to the storm getting trapped in a region of weak steering currents, resulting in a slow, erratic motion in the southern Gulf. NHC is currently not highlighting the Bay of Campeche in their Tropical Weather Outlook, and it will likely be Wednesday before enough heavy thunderstorms build to warrant mention.

Jeff Masters

Up In Smoke (Madermade)
Another wildfire this afternoon in Bridgeport, Tx... still burning!
Up In Smoke
Mandeville, Louisiana Lakefront during TS LEE (hurricanep)
Mandeville, Louisiana Lakefront during TS LEE
Lake Pontchartrain Lakefront (hurricanep)
TS Lee still affecting Louisiana
Lake Pontchartrain Lakefront
Tropical Storm Lee-Day 2 #2 (jennjeff1)
Tropical Storm Lee-Day 2 #2

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 1662 - 1612

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53Blog Index

1662. aquak9
Quoting TuMama:
What is a ASCAT?


It's a satellite, up in the sky, that can see winds, kind of.

Look at post 1623, that is an ASCAT pass, see the arrows showing wind direction. That information comes from a satellite.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Levi32:





Yeah it's supposed to be, but sometimes it's mistakenly not. We've seen it done before.


ok, look at 2009 when Bill was at 115 kt...

Advisory 16

HURRICANE BILL ADVISORY NUMBER 16
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL032009
500 AM AST WED AUG 19 2009

...BILL STRENGTHENS TO A CATEGORY FOUR HURRICANE...

INTERESTS IN THE LEEWARD ISLANDS AND BERMUDA SHOULD MONITOR THE
PROGRESS OF BILL.


AT 500 AM AST...0900 UTC...THE CENTER OF HURRICANE BILL WAS LOCATED
NEAR LATITUDE 18.0 NORTH...LONGITUDE 54.9 WEST OR ABOUT 460 MILES...
740 KM...EAST OF THE LEEWARD ISLANDS.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 135 MPH...215 KM/HR...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS. BILL IS A CATEGORY FOUR HURRICANE ON THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON
SCALE. SOME ADDITIONAL STRENGTHENING IS FORECAST DURING THE NEXT
24 HOURS. A NOAA HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT IS CURRENTLY ENROUTE TO
INVESTIGATE BILL.

Discussion
HURRICANE BILL DISCUSSION NUMBER 16
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL032009
500 AM AST WED AUG 19 2009

BILL HAS A WELL-DEFINED 25-30 N MI WIDE EYE WITH EYEWALL CLOUD TOPS
TO NEAR -80C. SATELLITE INTENSITY ESTIMATES FROM TAFB AND SAB WERE
115 KT AT 06Z...AND THE CURRENT SATELLITE SIGNATURE SUGGESTS A
SLIGHTLY STRONGER SYSTEM. BASED ON THE SATELLITE ESTIMATES...THE
INITIAL INTENSITY IS INCREASED TO 115 KT. A NOAA HURRICANE HUNTER
AIRCRAFT IS CURRENTLY ENROUTE TO INVESTIGATE BILL.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Krycek1984:
ritaevac, can you include the time stamp of the articles/updates you post? They are very interesting and the updates are great but I don't know if they are fresh or not without seeing the time.


7:30PM CDT
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TuMama:
What is a ASCAT?


I think its WindSat, just in disguise. :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting redwagon:



This map is important in it shows the TCHP hasn't been entirely consumed by Lee. Lots left on the WGOM (and East) side for us who need it to work with.. water SSTs will do nothing but fall now in the gulf, glad we have some rocket fuel left to work with to get TX some precip. But when or how on earth is this CONUS dry air rush going to end?


Not CONUS dry air rush...it's a Texas dry air rush/problem...many parts of the CONUS have been quite moist all year.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1650. aquak9
Good Lord, RitaEvac.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Levi32:


Well hey with so many African waves coming across maybe we'll get lucky with one of them. We can hope lol.


Yes, we can hope. :)
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
1648. JLPR2
Quoting Drakoen:


wow can't believe we only go that much lol. Oh well there's always the next pass.


Maybe Oceansat will catch it.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8747
1646. JLPR2
Quoting Tazmanian:
can we plzs this call KATIA a cat 5 and get it over with


LOL!
It would surprise me to see cat 5 Katia.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8747
1645. Drakoen
Quoting JLPR2:


Not really...

Dang! :\


wow can't believe we only go that much lol. Oh well there's always the next pass.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1644. 996tt
Haha, none of the experienced forecasters want to acknowledge or take a crack at frontal issue question. I imagine some weenie forecaster from weather channel will jump on it soon as every year a deep from such as this kills GOM tropical activity. Again, I love weather and want more action, so yes I admit I am a bit of a wishcaster. Nonetheless, the writing maybe in the wall.

Fronts like this and temps in the upper 50s to lower 60s shuts down GOM. I specially recall NHC and TWC forecasters call fronts like this as ending season so to speak. Like to hear you guys with a future in this arena reflect on what effect this front will have. Upper GOM SSTs and weather pattern should really change thanks to Lee so to speak.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hurricanealley:


Is the NHC sending RECON?



tuesday
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115437
Quoting Tazmanian:
can we plzs this call KATIA a cat 5 and get it over with


Is the NHC sending RECON?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1639. Levi32
Quoting TexasHurricane:


Hi Levi, Any good news for TX coming up?

I know, I know...why do I even ask. Sigh...


Well hey with so many African waves coming across maybe we'll get lucky with one of them. We can hope lol.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
ritaevac, can you include the time stamp of the articles/updates you post? They are very interesting and the updates are great but I don't know if they are fresh or not without seeing the time.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Altestic2012:
This troll is insane...



Peak season TATL heat.



This map is important in it shows the TCHP hasn't been entirely consumed by Lee. Lots left on the WGOM (and East) side for us who need it to work with.. water SSTs will do nothing but fall now in the gulf, glad we have some rocket fuel left to work with to get TX some precip. But when or how on earth is this CONUS dry air rush going to end?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting JLPR2:


Not really...

Dang! :\


Quoting NCHurricane2009:


Key word is SHOULD...ACSCAT not reliable...


LOL...my point exactly....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Drakoen:
We should get a good ASCAT pass on 95L tonight.



That will be very usefull for the next model runs.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1634. Levi32
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


it's 135 mph

Quoting Altestic2012:
Levi, it's 135 mph. They don't do 55, 95, 130, 170.




Yeah it's supposed to be, but sometimes it's mistakenly not. We've seen it done before.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
can we plzs this call KATIA a cat 5 and get it over with
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115437
1631. Drakoen
Windsat didn't show a closed low but with the deep convection out there, the windsat instrumentation may not have been able to. Here's a cool graphic from tonight's windsat pass though:

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1629. JLPR2
Quoting Altestic2012:
I don't see why the NHC is not doing intermediates...the system is past 55W which is generally the threshhold. It shouldn't have to be near land.


That's the reason for the intermediates.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8747
Because I know your wondering...


# ANNULAR HURRICANE INDEX (AHI) AL122011 KATIA 09/06/11 00 UTC ##
## STORM NOT ANNULAR, SCREENING STEP FAILED, NPASS=6 NFAIL=1 ##
## AHI= 0 (AHI OF 100 IS BEST FIT TO ANN. STRUC., 1 IS MARGINAL, 0 IS NOT ANNULAR) ##
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Drakoen:
We should get a good ASCAT pass on 95L tonight.


Key word is SHOULD...ACSCAT not reliable...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Clearwater1:

My son has a Lenovo, and it is great. And he uses it constantly. But, I bought my Acer, which works fine for myself, and it was on sale for only $279.00. For that price should have bought two.


Sigh :( Me has sad face. Come on..support a WUer! :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
""

wow thats so dry it's black yet there are still clouds
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1623. JLPR2
Quoting Drakoen:
We should get a good ASCAT pass on 95L tonight.


Not really...

Dang! :\
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8747
Quoting Levi32:


They will fix the confusion eventually with a modification to the SSHWS, but for now 115kts could be 130mph on the next advisory (*shrug*) but who knows.


it's 135 mph
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Drakoen:
We should get a good ASCAT pass on 95L tonight.


Windsat?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
How can this be a cat 4...it's lopsided, it's elongated ne to sw.....the core must be very organized.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Levi32:


They will fix the confusion eventually with a modification to the SSHWS, but for now 115kts could be 130mph on the next advisory (*shrug*) but who knows.


Hi Levi, Any good news for TX coming up?

I know, I know...why do I even ask. Sigh...
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
Evening all! Aquak9, no No Trader Joe's yet, but they have been looking at places to expand in Florida, according to some article I read a ways back (before the economy crashed, unfortunately).

Definitely had a piece of that leftover from Lee come through here in St. Pete. Small cell, but wicked winds and rain, for about 10-15 minutes. Can only imagine what the full force of that was like in LA.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1615. Drakoen
We should get a good ASCAT pass on 95L tonight.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
7:30PM CDT

Catastrophic fire weather event continues to unfold across Texas.

Thousands of residents are displaced, hundreds of homes have burned, and over 35,000 acres have burned in the last two days.

Fire fighting capabilities are being depleted, Texas has executed its mutual aid agreement and out of state resources are responding including heavy air tankers, helicopters, and fire strike teams from the western US.

Since Sunday morning: over 550 homes have burned, 35,000 acres burned, 6,500 residents evacuated, 78 major fires have developed (countless other smaller fires, 500 acres or less).

Austin FD is requesting anyone with fire fighting experience to call 512-978-1187, ground resources have been depleted across central Texas.



Bastrop Fire:

Catastrophic fire has now burned 26,000 acres and 476 homes. Hundreds of homes are threatened and 5,000 residents are under mandatory evacuation orders in 19 subdivisions. Several entire subdivisions along HWY 21 and HWY 71 have burned. HWY 21 and HWY 71 are closed. 50% of Bastrop State Park has burned. Thousands of fire fighters are responding from across the state along with several heavy air tankers from as far away as South Dakota and multiple Blackhawk helicopters. There is great need for animal/livestock transport and housing from this fire, I do not have a contact number for this effort. This fire is 0% contained.



Spicewood Fire:

6,400 acres have burned with 22 homes lost and 64 damaged in 5 subdivisions. Fire extended from Honey Flat on Lake Travis to Dripping Springs. Fire is 80% contained, but continues to flare up on the eastern flank. Grounds crews are holding fire lines.



Steiner Ranch Fire:

Unknown acres burned. 25 homes lost and 20 damaged (preliminary). 300 homes were saved. Unknown containment



Leon County Fire:

3,500 acres burning in tall grass and Cedar trees. 300 residents evacuated to College Station area. 50 homes are threatened and 15 have burned including 1 church. Fire is 10% contained.



Grimes/Montgomery County Fire:

150 acres burning in pine forest. Fire is burning hot and fast toward the south with long crown runs in the tops of Pine trees. 60 homes in the Lake Holly Hills subdivision are threatened (under mandatory evacuations). Shelters are set up at Magnolia High School and the Magnolia Community Center. Fire is 0% contained and there is no air support for this fire. ANYONE WITH TRAILERS OR TRUCKS IN THE MAGNOLIA AREA CAN HELP DAKOTA RESCUE AND COLLIE RESCUE GET OUT? COLLIE RESCUE HAS 27 DOGS IN LINE OF FIRE....NEAR 1774.



Update: Evacuation area being expanded shortly.

All air resources have been depleted.



Houston County Fire:

Fire is burning in Houston County. Mandatory evacuation in effect along CR 4505, 4529, 4520 and PR 9542. A shelter has been set up in Crockett.



Numerous other fires are burning across east and northeast Texas with hundreds of homes being threatened and thousands of acres burning especially around Longview and in Gregg County. There are just too many to go through. You can visit the Texas Forecast Service website for updates on current fires: http://txforestservice.tamu.edu/main/article.aspx? id=12888





Weather Conditions:

Gusty north winds will weaken overnight, but RH will be very slow to recover. Ongoing fires should slow allowing ground crews to make offensive gains. Winds will pick up again on Tuesday but stay in the 5-15mph range. Fire conditions will remain critical for the rest of the week, although winds will be weaker.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1612. Levi32
Quoting Hurricanes101:


AL, 12, 2011090600, , BEST, 0, 256N, 640W, 115, 946, HU


atcf; the site the nhc uses for its advisory strength, says CAT 4

again thanks for playing; In the words of the late Rod Roddy.... "COME ON DOWN!! - who is the next contestant on the INTENSITY IS WRONG"


They will fix the confusion eventually with a modification to the SSHWS, but for now 115kts could be 130mph on the next advisory (*shrug*) but who knows.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 1662 - 1612

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Overcast
28 °F
Overcast