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

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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

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When the Doc made a late day post that caught my attention.
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Top
Tuesday
To do
Task....

Buy gas for generator....
Member Since: July 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6069
Quoting scott39:
Not trying to scare you, the models keep trending W and the steering is changing for this time of year. I feel like the break in the ridge will be around S FL. area. I would expect a more turn to the NW at this time. The GOM is prime this time of year...especially for an I named storm. Im probably wrong but I think its possible with the setup this next week.

The models have done nothing but trend east today. I'm not sure what you're looking at, lol.
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ok with 94L/TD9 moving WSW I also expect models to eventually shif S and W as well which could mean that 94L/TD9 will be a caribbean tracker and will be a bit stronger

and you maybe saying "will be a bit stronger and caribbean tracker"?.?.? 'well how is that?" well if it track farther away from land, the less we get land interaction, so less weakening. the further S it is, the less it wants to pull N. thats my take on it.

Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12716
Look at that pinhole eye!! Typhoon Tembin must be at high cat 5 looking like that. Taiwan is in big trouble from this monster
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1876. scott39
Quoting palmpt:


You have gained credibility with me. I have homes in Biloxi and New Orleans. Scary comment...
Not trying to scare you, the models keep trending W and the steering is changing for this time of year. I feel like the break in the ridge will be around S FL. area. I would expect a more turn to the NW at this time. The GOM is prime this time of year...especially for an I named storm. Im probably wrong but I think its possible with the setup this next week.
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Quoting Chicklit:
Link 94L looks benign and benevolent at the moment... But is definitely gaining flesh and bones.



What his skeleton looks like. Somebody keep on the microwave tonight.. update us.
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Quoting Chicklit:
Link 94L looks benign and benevolent at the moment... But is definitely gaining flesh and bones.


There's a war between moisture and dry air
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9882
Issac by 11pm or I'll eat my crow hat again.
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I found it interesting how far south the 12Z Basin HWRF kept 94L:

Link
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Quoting LargoFl:
whew thanks for this radar..storms coming towards me, supposedly this front will be Over my area all day tomorrow, so all that rain northern florida got today..will be here in central florida tomorrow...oh boy


Been watching that all day hoping it would stay north. I gota drive to Orlando tomorrow for a job interview and would rather not have to deal with I-4 and Orlando traffic in the rain.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


What where you doing in school in mid-July?
I was volunteering at a school for service hours (applicable for extra credit, not because I committed a crime LOL).
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Quoting TomTaylor:
The BH high will budge though.

Here are the 18z GFS Ensembles at 12hrs



Here they are at 96hrs.




Look at how far back the center of the surface high moved. Also note the weakness off the east coast in the mid levels. If 94L is anything more than a TD at this time, it will feel this weakness. I really doubt this thing is going into the Yucatan. It'd have to keep a due west heading (or just north thereof).



You may be right. I hope it curves back towards the Azores. ;) Speaking of the Azores, on that eastern side of the Atlantic the high is dissipating. SFC MAP (Thank you, SJ! :) Appreciate that map!)

That Atlantic high pressure will NOT be that weak. Won't happen. BH may retrograde more northwards, but 94L (IF it does develop) won't slip out to sea. The current east coast trough is lifting out; and, I'd suspect the western periphery of the ridge to get a tad stronger, especially since the eastern side of the ATL is showing more weakness.

I'm not the guru! (And, I'm not a model guy, very old school; but also very proud of the model advances - last year or two much, much better. Anyways, much smarter folks here than me! However, I don't mind throwing my 2 cents in, now and again. ;)


--- SJ, so, I know fatherhood is GR8! #2 on the way yet? Or did I miss that one? :)
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Good to see That area of dry air and SAL, still fighting with 94L...

Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9882
Good catch, South Dade Fish.
Looks like 94L is finally coming into its own now that it has conquered the wave in front of it.
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Anybody have the 8:00 pm models yet?
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Thanks, next time all try to get billboards right.
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Quoting Doppler22:
Just letting everyone know that starting Wednesday i will be more sporactic on posting because i will be busy....... except for weekends :p
If you're in college expect to be busy on the weekends too and no I'm not just talking about studying.
Member Since: August 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 5628
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Shhh.

sssssssllllllllooooooowwwwwww
You shhh.
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Here is a good loop to watch at night time. Easier to see the low level clouds.

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Link 94L looks benign and benevolent at the moment... But is definitely gaining flesh and bones.
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Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

Comment #1811.

Shhh.
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94L is set up to really blossom. As long as it maintains that nice structure, It should strengthen steadily once it gets into more moist air.
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1857. palmpt
Quoting scott39:
Expect a Major in the GOM.


You have gained credibility with me. I have homes in Biloxi and New Orleans. Scary comment...
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Lol, it came out at 8:26 p.m. EDT, and I posted it at 8:26 p.m. EDT.

Try again next time.

Comment #1811.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Emphasis on "decent" lol. I remember Bonnie perfectly, skipped class that day for nothing. Major damage to the neighborhood though: leaves all over the place with the occasional branch...or two.


What where you doing in school in mid-July?
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As levi stated earlier the overall pattern does now favor a threat to the conus. Dont get caught up on the models if ur in florida this thing has plenty of hurdles to cross before it becomes a signifcant threat.

Ask ernesto in 06 :0)

Models aim elsewere tommorow
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1852. SLU
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
No changes on 96L

AL, 96, 2012082100, , BEST, 0, 103N, 269W, 25, 1010


big change in the relocation of the center
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As we all know global models have a hard time with strength when it comes to large systems such as 94L. Anyone looking at the gfs for strength before this thing developes is just a guess. There are a lot of variables with land interaction also, its a fine line
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Quoting clwstmchasr:


Here we go again. Last night he had it at 14.2 moving WSW. Tonight at 15.2 WSW. That doesn't add up.


ok does this makes sense to you

late last night going into this morning the LLCOC relocated further N

Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12716
Quoting WeatherNerdPR:

MA posted that a while back. Too slow :P

Lol, it came out at 8:26 p.m. EDT, and I posted it at 8:26 p.m. EDT.

Try again next time.
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1848. pottery
Quoting StormJunkie:

Ditto and evening pottery...

Two folks that I am sure remember my rants about Lyda Ann and the news stations four years ago.
How could we forget?
Although, we tried hard... :):))


Quoting moonlightcowboy:



Hey, Potts! Man, you ain't much of a gatekeeper! The board is thinking about a reprimand! ;P

Sorry.
It's just that, well, er, um... well, you know!!
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24903
1847. scott39
Quoting TomTaylor:
The jet stream has moved to the E. It has no choice but to go more N.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
No change with 96L.

AL, 96, 2012082100, , BEST, 0, 103N, 269W, 25, 1010, DB,

MA posted that a while back. Too slow :P
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Quoting bohonkweatherman:
I know alot people along Texas and La. Coast that don't live there any more due to Hurricane experiences, some friends and some relatives.


That's what I would recommend to anyone who doesn't care for them. There is no "Need" to stay in their path. Just like snowstorms, tornadoes and earthquakes, they come and they go. I just really love the weather in between.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5458
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

A nicely developed one, yes.

That's what i thought. It appears very well defined, and should provide a very good exhaust system for 94L once it develops. Makes me wonder if it could help with any RI later on.
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Quoting gordydunnot:
Just to reemphasize I mentioned hurricane Cleo earlier because at the time it came off Cuba it was suppose to be nothing but TS as it passed between the Bahamas and Fl. At 11pm they put up hurricane warnings just in case we got hurricane force gust. Before the news was done our power went out and there wasn't any power for another two weeks. I saw build boards who's steel supports were rotated 45 degrees. Back then we couldn't fly anywhere near Cuba but Miami did have radar. My point being these systems can do just about anything track wise,strength wise. Hispaniola does a good job on 90% of them though at a great cost to them. So here's to hopping it doesn't follow Cleo's lead.
I second that motion.
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Just letting everyone know that starting Wednesday i will be more sporactic on posting because i will be busy....... except for weekends :p
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1841. JLPR2
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
No change with 96L.

AL, 96, 2012082100, , BEST, 0, 103N, 269W, 25, 1010, DB,


There we go.
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Quoting thunderbug91:

Is this an anticyclone over 94L?


Yes, that is a very intense anticyclone.
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Quoting moonlightcowboy:
In other words, no one knows where it's going even if it does develop. Robust circulation, but moving way too fast to get to maturity. Rinse, repeat. The Bermuda High is stationary. The current trough on the East Coast if lifting out without much impediment to the western periphery of the high. 2nd trough? Hhhmmm, okay, maybe so; but, still a bit early too be too deep. BH probably will not budge much and that'll mean a bit more western path. New England? I doubt it. FL? NC? Good chance if the western Canadian trough is deep enough. I wouldn't hold my breath.

Hey! It's got to develop first. Too fast, too much dry air in the present.
The BH high will budge though.

Here are the 18z GFS Ensembles at 12hrs



Here they are at 96hrs.




Look at how far back the center of the surface high moved. Also note the weakness off the east coast in the mid levels. If 94L is anything more than a TD at this time, it will feel this weakness. I really doubt this thing is going into the Yucatan. It'd have to keep a due west heading (or just north thereof).
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Keep an eye on the ATCF tonight. Could see a renumber on 94L.
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Quoting pottery:
Howdy, MLC.
Long time !



Hey, Potts! Man, you ain't much of a gatekeeper! The board is thinking about a reprimand! ;P
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Quoting pottery:
Howdy, MLC.
Long time !
Ditto and evening to you too pottery...

Two folks that I am sure remember my rants about Lyda Ann and the news stations four years ago.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16874
1835. LargoFl
ALERT!!....TENNIS BALL SIZED HAILSTONES IN TEXAS!!!!!!...........BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LUBBOCK TX
658 PM CDT MON AUG 20 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN LUBBOCK HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
NORTHEASTERN LAMB COUNTY IN NORTHWEST TEXAS.
CASTRO COUNTY IN THE PANHANDLE OF TEXAS.

* UNTIL 800 PM CDT

* AT 652 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
LINE OF SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING TENNIS BALL SIZE
HAIL...AND DESTRUCTIVE WINDS IN EXCESS OF 80 MPH. THESE STORMS
WERE LOCATED ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM 8 MILES NORTHEAST OF
EASTER TO 13 MILES SOUTH OF DIMMITT...OR ALONG A LINE EXTENDING
FROM 8 MILES SOUTHEAST OF HEREFORD TO 13 MILES SOUTH OF
DIMMITT... AND MOVING EAST AT 10 MPH. AT 655 PM...THE MOST
DANGEROUS STORM WAS LOCATED 9 MILES SOUTHWEST OF DIMMITT...MOVING
EAST AT 5 MPH.

* SOME LOCATIONS NEAR THE PATH OF THESE STORMS INCLUDE HART.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THIS STORM HAS A HISTORY OF PRODUCING DAMAGING WINDS...LARGE HAIL
AND VERY HEAVY RAIN. GO INSIDE A STURDY BUILDING AND STAY AWAY FROM
WINDOWS.

TO REPORT SEVERE WEATHER...PLEASE CALL THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
AT 8067451290.

A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1100 PM CDT
MONDAY EVENING FOR THE PANHANDLE AND NORTHWEST TEXAS.



LAT...LON 3472 10199 3422 10212 3427 10253 3475 10246
3475 10200
TIME...MOT...LOC 2357Z 270DEG 8KT 3473 10230 3436 10235

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SCATTERED MODERATE/ISOLATED STRONG CONVECTION IS MAINLY S OF THE LOW CENTER FROM 11N-14N BETWEEN 43W-49W...AND FROM 14N-16N BETWEEN 48W-51W. IF CONVECTION INCREASES NEAR THE LOW CENTER...THEN A TROPICAL DEPRESSION COULD FORM.

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1832. scott39
I wouldnt be suprised to see a Cat 3 or 4 in the GOM in 7days!
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No change with 96L.

AL, 96, 2012082100, , BEST, 0, 103N, 269W, 25, 1010, DB,
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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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