Three Atlantic threat areas may develop; a record fire season for the U.S.

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:43 PM GMT on August 20, 2012

Share this Blog
59
+

A large tropical wave (Invest 94L) located about 1100 miles east of the Lesser Antilles Islands is headed west at 20 - 25 mph, and is showing increasing organization today. The storm is under light wind shear of 5 - 10 knots, and is over waters of 27°C. A large area of dry air lies just to the north of 94L, as seen on the latest Saharan Air Layer (SAL) analysis and water vapor satellite loops. This dry air is interfering with development, and this morning's visible satellite loop shows that 94L's heavy thunderstorm activity is sparse. However, the satellite loops do show that 94L has now separated from the clumps of heavy thunderstorms to its south, and a pretty well-defined surface circulation has developed. Heavy thunderstorms are now attempting to fire up around this circulation center, but are being hampered by dry air. The center of 94L was about 80 miles to the north of buoy 41041 at 10 am Monday morning, and the buoy recorded SW winds of 10 mph, confirming that 94L probably does have a closed surface circulation. The disturbance will have to build and maintain more heavy thunderstorms than it has now to be considered a tropical depression, though. The first hurricane hunter mission into 94L is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.


Figure 1. Morning satellite image of Invest 94L.

Forecast for 94L
The latest 8 am EDT run of the SHIPS model predicts that wind shear will be low, 5 - 10 knots, for the next five days. Ocean temperatures will warm from 27°C this morning to 28.5°C by Wednesday morning, and the total heat content of the ocean will increase sharply during that period, as well. The main impediment to development will be dry air to the north, and the SHIPS model predicts the amount of dry air will change little over the next five days. I expect that 94L will continue to struggle with dry air through Wednesday, when it will probably have had enough time to moisten the surrounding atmosphere and protect itself against the dry air. The models have shown increasing unity in taking 94L through the Lesser Antilles on Wednesday, and I expect the storm will be a tropical depression or weak tropical storm with 40 - 50 mph winds at that time. In their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 94L a 80% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Wednesday morning. None of the reliable models predict that 94L will reach hurricane strength over the next five days, and it is unlikely that 94L will be able to organize quickly enough to become anything stronger than a 60 mph tropical storm before reaching the Lesser Antilles, given the storm's current struggles with dry air, and the lack of model support for intensification. However, once 94L enters the Eastern Caribbean, wind shear will be low, oceanic heat content high, and the storm should have had enough time to moisten the atmosphere to allow steady strengthening to occur. The main factor that might prevent intensification into a hurricane late this week would be a close pass by the island of Hispaniola. Our top models for long-range 4 - 5 days forecasts all show a path for 94L very close to the island.

Will 94L hit the U.S. mainland?
This storm is a long-range threat to the U.S., as historically, 16% of storms in 94L's location have gone on to hit the U.S., with North Carolina the preferred target (10% chance.) A trough of low pressure capable of pulling 94L to the north enters Western Canada Thursday night, and the exact timing and amplitude of this trough will determine the ultimate landfall location of 94L. The long range 7 - 14 day runs of the GFS model over the past three day have all predicted an eventual landfall for 94L in the U.S., though these long-range runs are notoriously unreliable. The predicted landfall locations have ranged from New England to Texas--which isn't much help. The past three runs beginning on Sunday afternoon have all taken 94L over Florida during the August 27 - 29 time frame, which I'm sure is making organizers of the Republican National Convention uncomfortable, since the convention is in Tampa August 27 - 30. However, 94L could miss Florida completely, as the average error in model forecasts going out 7 days is in excess of 500 miles. We can't rule out a North Carolina landfall, but the pattern we've seen so far this year is for landfalls in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, so a more southwards path for 94L into the Yucatan is definitely a possibility. Also, we have that huge drought region in the Midwest, which tends to create its own high pressure bubble, which reduces the odds of storms making the turn and hitting the Central or Western Gulf Coast. If 94L makes it to the Western Caribbean, I see the two most likely options as a landfall in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula (and then westwards into Mexico south of the Texas border), or recurvature into the Florida Gulf Coast.


Figure 2. MODIS satellite image of Hurricane Gordon taken on Sunday August 19, 2012, at 11:55 am EDT. At the time, Gordon was a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.

Gordon hits the Azores
The eye of Hurricane Gordon passed over Santa Maria Island in the eastern Azores Islands near 1:30 am EDT this morning. Gordon was a Category 1 hurricane with 75 - 80 mph winds at landfall. Winds at the Santa Maria airport reached a sustained 49 mph at 3 am EDT, but the airport did not report winds during passage of the eyewall at 1:30 am. Reuters reported that Gordon caused only minor flooding and power outages. The hurricane is being sheared apart by strong upper-level winds, and the extratropical remnants of Gordon will not bring any strong winds or significant rain to Europe.

Disturbance 95L in the Gulf near the Texas/Mexico border
A region of disturbed weather (Invest 95L) has developed in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast, just northeast of Tampico, Mexico. The disturbance is due to a trough of low pressure and its associated cold front which moved off the coast over the weekend, but has been fortified via moisture from Tropical Storm Helene, which made landfall Saturday near Tampico. If 95L were to develop into a tropical storm, it would receive a new name. In their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 95L a 30% chance of developing into a tropical cyclone by Wednesday morning. An Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate 95L this afternoon. Winds at Tampico this morning were light out of the northeast, which implies that no surface circulation is forming at this time. Radar out of Altamira, Mexico does show some banding to the precipitation echoes, though, which may be indicative of something trying to spin up. The computer models show that 95L should move little over the next few days.


Figure 3. Radar out of Altamira, Mexico at 9:45 am EDT August 20, 2012, shows some banding to the precipitation echoes in association with 95L.

Disturbance 96L off the coast of Africa
The tropical Atlantic is very busy this third week of August, and this is the week of the year that we typically see a major ramp-up of tropical storm activity in the Atlantic. A new tropical wave that emerged from the coast of Africa Sunday (Invest 96L) is headed west at 15 - 20 mph. This disturbance has a modest amount of spin and heavy thunderstorm activity, and is under a moderate 10 - 20 knots of wind shear. In their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 96L a 20% chance of developing into a tropical cyclone by Wednesday morning. This disturbance does not have much model support for development.


Figure 4. The new Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite (S-NPP) carries an instrument so sensitive to low light levels that it can detect wildfires in the middle of the night. On August 17, 2012, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on Suomi-NPP acquired this image of the wildfires blazing in Idaho. The images were created with data from the instrument’s "day-night band," which sensed the fire in the visible portion of the spectrum. The Halstead Fire, centered about 18 miles northwest of Stanley, was sparked by lightning on July 27, and is burning in an area with large numbers of trees killed by the mountain pine beetle. As of Sunday afternoon, the fire had burned 92,000 acres was only 5% contained, according to InciWeb. The fire prompted the evacuation of the town of Featherville on Saturday night. Red flag warnings for adverse fire weather were posted in the region yesterday, and temperatures reached the low 90s with 16% humidity and winds of 10 mph. Image credit: NASA.

A record fire season in the U.S.
Massive fires continue to burn in Nevada, Idaho and California, and fires that are currently active in the Western U.S. have consumed over 1.3 million acres of land--an area approximately the size of Delaware. Thanks to widespread drought and unusually high temperatures over the past month, 3 million acres have gone up in flames since mid-July, and the fire season of 2012 now ranks in first place for the most acreage burned at this point in the year. According to the Interagency Fire Center, 6.8 million acres have burned as of August 19 this year, beating the previous record set just last year (6.5 million acres for the year-to-date period.) The Interagency Fire Center shows year-to-date records just for the past ten years. The 2012 fire season is well ahead of the pace of 2006, which was the worst fire year in the U.S. for total acreage burned in a year (records began in 1960). In 2006, 9.9 million acres burned, and 6.4 million acres had burned by August 19. With drought conditions far more widespread this year compared to 2006, and the latest forecasts calling for little drought relief over the coming two months, 2012 is likely to surpass 2006 as the worst fire year in U.S. history before the end of the year.


Figure 5. Comparison of drought conditions between the previous record fire year in the contiguous U.S. (2006) with 2012. Drought is much more widespread in 2012 compared to 2006, and 2012 will likely finish ahead of 2006 for the most acreage burned since record keeping began in 1960. Image credit: U.S. Drought Monitor.

Global warming expected to increase fire activity in the Western U.S.
As I blogged about in June, the severe fire seasons of 2012 and 2011 fit the pattern of what we expect to see more of with global warming. Hotter heat waves dry out vegetation more readily, resulting in increased probability of more acreage burned. A study published in the Journal Ecosphere in June 2012 used fire models driven by the output from sixteen climate models used in the 2007 IPCC report and found that while 8% of the planet should see decreases in fire activity over the next 30 years, 38% should see increases. By the end of the century, 20% of the globe should see decreased fire activity, and 62% increased fire activity. In the U.S., the regions most at risk of increased fires are the tundra regions of northern Alaska, and the West, with Arizona and Colorado at particularly high risk.

Jeff Masters

hugh blanket of smoke (got2dogs)
blew in about an hr after my last upload here - I thought I was done for the nite, but this smoke was incredible! made for some awesome light - sooooo eerie!
hugh blanket of smoke
Smoke! What smoke ?? (saltydawgg)
12th Ave road South looking north. Nampa Idaho full of smoke from 7 fires at last count with more dry lightning on the way.
Smoke! What smoke ??
Temecula Fire (photoandy)
This is just two hours after ignition! It quickly became a PYROCUMULUS...
Temecula Fire

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: 3681 - 3631

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 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | 76 | 77 | 78 | 79 | 80 | 81 | 82 | 83Blog Index

Quoting wunderkidcayman:
plus people TD 9 is not like Irene I mean look at the forecast cone for TD9 and Irene
Irene's Cone was Further N



TD9's cone is Further S



so easly TD9 will not take a Irene track

plus Irene was moving on a N of due W-WNW track

unlike TD9 which is moving on a S of due W-WSW track
TD9 is located North and East of Irene right now. Expect the cone to shift northward. Also, the steering will allow for direct westward path.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 7902
3680. junie1
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
plus people TD 9 is not like Irene I mean look at the forecast cone for TD9 and Irene
Irene's Cone was Further N



TD9's cone is Further S



so easly TD9 will not take a Irene track

plus Irene was moving on a N of due W-WNW track

unlike TD9 which is moving on a S of due W-WSW track
lol its not moving south of due west
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting reedzone:
TD9 should get strong enough to move a bit more north, being influenced by the trough/weakness over the Eastern USA. If you go by the pattern, I have to say Florida is right in the path. I personally feel the late model runs are lookin about right. A track up the East coast of Florida.


The path , at least for now, reminds me of'79 David or Erin in the 90's.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
How come they doing have a hurricane watch for PR when they have TD9 as a hurricane predicted before PR? Due to the fact it's still a TD or cause it's more than 24hrs away??
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
plus people TD 9 is not like Irene I mean look at the forecast cone for TD9 and Irene
Irene's Cone was Further N and E



TD9's cone is Further S and W



so easly TD9 will not take a Irene track

plus Irene was moving on a N of due W-WNW track

unlike TD9 which is moving on a S of due W-WSW track
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 11023
I'm out for a while... check u guys later...

Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21485
3673. LargoFl
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:
Either way it goes, it looks like a very large system.
Very large, Gro...

Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 7902
Longtime Lurker, first time poster. Just found some interesting canadian model runs through 144hrs. I may just be getting excited about an unreliable model because i want some surf. but the CMC seems to have a slightly different outlook on TD09. Still a long way out, still a lot of uncertainty. but this has me excited. 12z run@ 144hrs

animation: Link


Am i doing this right?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3670. ncstorm
I pulled this off Bastardi Twitter





One member of Canadian ensemble has strongest atlantic storm I have ever seen on a model this far north. 905 mb

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
TD9 should get strong enough to move a bit more north, being influenced by the trough/weakness over the Eastern USA. If you go by the pattern, I have to say Florida is right in the path. I personally feel the late model runs are lookin about right. A track up the East coast of Florida.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormTracker2K:


Long range models are even showing a stall over N FL or S GA. This could end your drought next week.


I'm ready for another flood of 2009 again...that was awesome to watch... 1 in 500yr floods are awesome..

But im not counting on anything yet

anyway, ill be back this afternoon guys
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3667. Grothar
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


It's right over "my" house!


LOL. It's OK, Geoff. It looks like it's actually over your neighbor's house.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25369
Quoting txwcc:


Looking much more impressive than 24 hours ago, eh Chicklit??

Yeah, we knew it would.
Interesting that NHC has it going cane in the north Caribbean.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Chicklit:


It's time to start checking on elderly neighbors.
They will need prescriptions and plans in place.

Agreed. Look at 96L and his vortices... Looks impressive. 94 or 96 More threat???
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3664. Grothar
Either way it goes, it looks like a very large system.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25369
Quoting LargoFl:
your scaring me again GRO LOL
Ditto!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
The worst case scenario here is that this stays in the caribbean all the way to western cuba and crosses over quickly before coming up into the GOM and affecting anywhere on the Florida coastline, similiar to the ECMWF run that bombed this out into the 960mbs..
If the storm can remain not too strong long enough( Jamaica/Hispaniola have a real chance of helping with this) it might end up becoming a more significant threat to the United States down the road since it wouldnt recurve as early and would have more time in the GOM..

So think twice before you say you want this to get ripped apart in the mountains of the Greater Antilles...because you just might get it.


Long range models are even showing a stall over N FL or S GA. This could end your drought next week.
Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651


So...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Bluestorm5:
That high will move in time, Jordan...


not far enough...watch the model runs

This Could recurve before florida, dont get me wrong, but its not going all the way up the east coast IMO... it would instead smash into one of the carolinas and end up inland mostly
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3659. LargoFl
Quoting Grothar:
Is Florida in the Cone?

your scaring me again GRO LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3658. JLPR2
Oh well, last night I said I hoped I would wake up to 94L instead of a TS watch... Didn't came true. :\

I guess I better start preparing mentally for a possible loss of power, TS winds could manage that.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:
Is Florida in the Cone?



It's right over "my" house!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The worst case scenario here is that this stays in the caribbean all the way to western cuba and crosses over quickly before coming up into the GOM and affecting anywhere on the Florida coastline, similiar to the ECMWF run that bombed this out into the 960mbs..
If the storm can remain not too strong long enough( Jamaica/Hispaniola have a real chance of helping with this) it might end up becoming a more significant threat to the United States down the road since it wouldnt recurve as early and would have more time in the GOM..

So think twice before you say you want this to get ripped apart in the mountains of the Greater Antilles...because you just might get it.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Clearwater1:
Then not to worry.

LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


It's time to start checking on elderly neighbors.
They will need prescriptions and plans in place.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


not really:

Irene steering:


09L steering:



You will notice Irene had a nice high to wrap around with a nice trough to the north.

With 09L the steering pushes this well into the caribbean before it even has a chance to turn north.
Sorry to say it, but you are wrong...no Irene track..
That high will move in time, Jordan...
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 7902
Quoting Grothar:
Is Florida in the Cone?

LOL!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MahFL:


You are aware that only about 25 % of people in the Keys actually ever evacuate.....as for the rest of FL....
I do know that some of pple who evacuate do so out of "safe" zones, while ones who live 10 yards from the coast insist on staying...

My mom was telling recently about a childhood experience when the family was threatened by a hurricane and they moved into a cave until it was over....

I'm just hoping pple who need to get out, do.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21485
What ridge? That's just a weak ridge...
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 7902
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Which makes even more evidence for a more northerly track. :)


not really:

Irene steering:


09L steering:



You will notice Irene had a nice high to wrap around with a nice trough to the north.

With 09L the steering pushes this well into the caribbean before it even has a chance to turn north.
Sorry to say it, but you are wrong...no Irene track..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3644. Grothar
Is Florida in the Cone?

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25369
I still think that high will start moving NE-ward soon and that'll causes TD9 to curves more into Eastern Florida. Stronger storms also trends to go poleward.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 7902
3519 MahFL: TD9 motion is W not WSW, thats an optical illusion due to the shear.

BUT there is (and has been) a consistent southward component in its mainly Westward movement: 1south to 18west.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
TD/iSAAC is south of the forecast track. if the system gets to 55w without any gain in latitude,then watches and warnings could shift southward.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Ok...so which is most likely to break up a hurricane? Hispaniola or Eastern Cuba? It seems like in the past Hispaniola has always been more disruptive, but I could be wrong.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Which makes even more evidence for a more northerly track. :)


Not with this ridge sitting right on top of it.

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Quoting txwcc:


Exactly.

Plus, TD9 is already south of his forecast points...



and it seem like it will continue to be that was for a while
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 11023
3637. Grothar
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25369
About the only other thing besides land interaction, and some residual dry air that appears to be a negative for TD9 is the departure of the convectively coupled kelvin wave causing some synoptic scale subsidence as it enters the NE Caribbean...



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Clearwater1:
I know all eyes are on td9, but if td9 hits fl and then heads ne, would that not create a nice weakness to allow 96 to re curve out to sea and away from land? Just a thought.
Prolly bring it rather closer to FL and the Bahamas than anyone would like...

Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21485
Quoting Bluestorm5:
He's talking about the FORECAST, not TD9 itself...


Read his post clearly please. THX
Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Quoting wunderkidcayman:


yes steering show a WSW-S of due W movement



Not anymore. Should begin a more direct west course.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
TD9 looking petty good this morning RBTOP

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 3681 - 3631

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 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | 76 | 77 | 78 | 79 | 80 | 81 | 82 | 83Blog 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.